Chesed Shel Emes - True Kindness
Dvar Torah based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And the days of Israel (Jacob) drew near to die; and he called his son Joseph, and said to him: If now I have found favor in your eyes, please ... deal with me kindly and truly; bury me not in Egypt." (Genesis 47:29)
What does the phrase "kindly and truly" come to teach us?
Rashi enlightens us as to the meaning of "kindly and truly." Kindness which is shown to the dead is true kindness, for one who does chesed (kindness) for a dead person certainly does not look forward to any payment.
When someone does something for another person so that the person will in turn do him favors, the action cannot be considered true kindness. Rather, it is a form of bartering in which the merchandise is not objects, but favors.
When Rabbi Moshe of Kobrin was seven years old, there was a severe famine in Lithuania. Poor people wandered from village to village in search of food. Many of them flocked to the home of Rav Moshe's mother, who readily cooked and baked for them. Once a very large number of the poor came to her home and she had to cook for them in shifts.
When some individuals grew impatient and insulted her, she began to cry, since she felt that she was doing her utmost for them. Her young son, the future Rabbi of Kobrin, said to her, "Why should their insults trouble you? Don't their insults help you perform the mitzvah with sincerity? If they had praised you, your merit would be less, since you might be doing the kindness to gain their praise, rather than to fulfill the Almighty's command."
The Neshama Foundation is based on this concept. Why does Yerucham Kopelman and his team work so hard to make sure every Jew that comes his way has a true Jewish burial? The deceased would never be able to complain! This is the true meaning of kindness. They will never get repaid for the time they’ve spent helping the deceased greet God in the world to come in the best way possible.