I love Yiddish words. Like “kibbitz.” Or “mitzvah.” And I try to “do a mitzvah,” a good deed, as much as I can. That includes my favorite kind of mitzvah I like to do ― which is giving free readings on the radio, where people can call from anywhere in the world these days and get a reading they might not normally be able to afford or perhaps have access to.
Think of it as creating positive energy in your own life and aura when you do a mitzvah. And perhaps because we gave a bit of ourselves to others, the universe might give something nice to us in return, from some unexpected angle that’s not related to the good deed we just did. Some people like the oft-used word “karma,” and it could be seen as creating good karma.
It’s good to do something nice for others, it feeds our own soul, whether it’s a seemingly small thing like giving the car wash worker who wipes down our cars a few extra dollars, knowing they often rely on tips, or something as large as this week’s major news in higher education, that the foundation of Herb Alpert, the legendary musician and founder of A & M Records, donated $10.1 million to Los Angeles City College.
Hearing the news on TV literally made me verklempt, as I thought of the college students who will benefit and feel grateful to be on the receiving end of such a wonderful gift, the largest ever to a southern California community college.
On the human plane, it made me think if only more wealthy donors gave to public institutions like our public schools in these economic times, rather than to already nicely endowed colleges, what good that could do for so many who can’t afford higher education and desperately want one to make a better life for themselves.
In this time of lack of funding for the arts in public schools, the Alpert donation will help pay the tuition for the college’s music majors and increase the number of music majors from 175 to 250 students.
Sometimes, because you performed a mitzvah, great or small, you might unwittingly end up being a person’s earth angel for that moment, lifting their spirit, making their day, and never know it, as in the case of the Herb and his wife Lani, who Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti referred to as “two angels” for their gift.
Although Alpert had some connection to the college (his brother and his ex-partner and legendary record producer Lou Adler both attended), a mitzvah can be about something or someone we have no connection to ― like the free readings I strive to give on radio to callers I’ve never met and will never meet. Helping them have some peace and healing actually gives me a healing in return.
Some of the best stories that remind me to do a mitzvah for others, that we can be of service in small ways, are those news pieces where people paid for a stranger’s check at the diner, or left a huge, anonymous tip for a waitress who was in need, or a funny story I once heard of a person paying for the car behind him at a tollbooth and the tollbooth collector having to explain that the driver in front of them paid the toll already for them.
A mitzvah, a good deed like one of the examples just mentioned, might lift up someone’s day in a way that you may never know, and that’s also the fun of it and its own reward.
What is for sure, is you’ll probably have a smile in your heart, if not already on your face, after performing a mitzvah to help another soul here on this tough journey we’re all on called life.