This Monday past was our fourth annual “Mitzvah Day” in Winnipeg. “Mitzvah” has many meanings, but in this instance, it is about “good deeds.” We are encouraged to step up with intention on that day, to do something nice for someone else. It could be something big or something small. It’s just a matter of doing it.

I mulled over whether I should write about it before or after the day, and I chose later, intentionally. Doing good deeds isn’t or shouldn’t be a one-day thing. It should be an everyday thing, and better yet, a regular occurrence over the course of our day. It’s a habit, and like any habit, it is something that we can cultivate.

It is about being present in the world around us. It can be about saying something nice and putting a smile on someone’s face. Holding a door open for the person behind us. Saying please and thank you, and you’re welcome. It can be an outgoing phone call or setting aside the time to answer a call or a text. It can be an act of kindness or charity or an errand for someone.

Ultimately, while we do these things for others, we really do them for ourselves, because it places us in the world. Years ago, a friend described his habit of doing something nice for someone else every day. However, he said, “If I tell someone else about it, it doesn’t count.”

I recall hearing once that anything we do for someone else, we get back three times over. I wish I could recall the source, but the point is clear. These returns aren’t material; they are spiritual. These acts aren’t done to elevate ourselves in the eyes of others, but rather to feel good about ourselves, and to quietly change the world around us. That is what a mitzvah, a good deed, is. Let’s make every day a Mitzvah Day.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Allan