Chessed? Or Just a Waste of Time?

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    A few months ago, someone from my shul asked me to put together a PowerPoint presentation for his son’s Bar Mitzvah. He sent me the pictures, I put them together into a show, with music and we played it at the Bar Mitzvah. Good times.

    The gentleman offered to pay me for the work that I did, but I refused. As a rule, I don’t charge for my services. Now, it’s not like he was poor and could not afford to pay someone. Had I refused to do it, he could have hired someone else to do this for him.

    I’ve been in situations before where what I was doing was actually a chessed. For example, I shot a Bar Mitzvah and did so for free, but did it because, had I not done so, they would not have had a photographer at all. So, in that case, I viewed it as a chessed.

    Here, however, the man could have hired someone else had I refused. I, however, did it for free. As such, I have to ask — is something a chessed if it’s not really needed and the “recipient” could afford to purchase/hire someone on their own? And, if it’s not truly a chessed, was I just wasting my time (an issur of bittul z’man)?

    The Wolf

    (Yes, Joseph, we know, lamed vuvnik, tzaddik, blah blah blah.)


    Some mitzvot or work only you can do. Someone else could have done it but it may have meant more to him and the Bar Mitzvah to have it come from you.

    Imho it is still a chesed.

    You helped a friend.

    If someone can afford to buy food at a restaurant and rent a hotel room for the weekend, is it still a chesed to host that person for Shabbos for free?

    If someone at shul gets a flat tire during a weekday maariv and you offer to change the tire (and do so) even though the person has AAA, to me that’s still a chesed.


    Of course it is a Chesed. Without doubt.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    It seems to me that it’s a chessed. And a big one!

    In terms of your uncertainty based on the fact that it wasn’t really needed and he could have hired someone, I would have to ask you, “if that is the case, then why did he ask you to do it?” He must have had a reason. Generally, if someone asks someone to do something, there is a reason. Maybe he likes your work the best and that’s why he asked you.

    In any case, it seems to me that just about any time that someone asks you to do something for them and you say yes, it is a Mitzvah as long as it’s not at someone else’s expense.


    It is a chessed because the other person is better off because you did what you did.


    Perhaps since your saving a fellow Jew money it may fall in the category of Ha Shovas Avaida (returning a lost article) as there too you are saving the person money even though he maybe wealthy and so it maybe a chesed. I also don’t think it’s Bittul Zman. You created a memorable show that they may cherished for the rest of their lives and may also encourage others to volunteer for other chesed projects.


    Is it a chessed if you give someone a ride when they could have called a cab? Personally, I don’t see why the fact that they could have paid someone else should take away from what that you did. In fact, even if they had paid you, it still would have enhanced the bar mitzvah.


    Dovor pashut.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    mik5 – +1!

    And I think that Wolf really is one of the lamed vavnikim.


    Yes I suppose it is chessed. But why not give priority to things that can’t be done so easily by someone else?

    Obviously I’m not criticizing, only trying to answer your question logically.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Person1 – he asked him, so I think he wanted him to do it. And why should he have to spend time calling someone else and why should that person take the time to do it? And why shouldn’t Wolf “chap” the Mitzvah if he can?

    There is a concept in halacha of not doing a Mitzvah if others can do it, but that is only if you would be learning Torah during that time (which Wolf did not mention as being his concern here which is why I hadn’t mentioned it in my response).

    Also it seems to me that if someone specifically asks you to do something and you can do it, you have more of an obligation to say yes, and the fact that someone else can do it is only a reason to say no if you really were planning on doing something else at that time that no one else can do. And again Wolf didn’t say that he felt guilty because his wife was really expecting him to wash the dishes or he cancelled his chevrusa for this.

    Another point is that I have the impression that Wolf enjoyed doing it and additionally, may have felt that it strengthened his bond with his friend (are either of those correct, Wolf?) and I’m also guessing that it may have meant something to the Bar Mitzvah boy that Wolf did it (and that he didn’t say no when asked).


    Might be a chesed if not its a bar mitzvah gift so not a waste of time either way.

    catch yourself

    Regardless of whether it technically qualifies as “Chessed,” you did a favor for a friend. It should be obvious that Hashem expects us to act in such a way, even if not specifically mandated to do so under the rubric of Chessed (much like inviting friends for Shabbos Seudos is not technically Hachnasas Orchim). The only caveat (in my opinion) is to make sure your friend is not taking advantage of you, which a true friend would never do.

    I would venture to say that the idea that “if it isn’t technically the Mitzvah of Chessed, I’m not doing it,” is described by the Gemara as ?????? ?????? ?? ??? ????, which is given as the reason for ????? ??? ?????.


    Thank you, all.

    The Wolf

    Avram in MD


    I’m confused, why wouldn’t it be a chessed?


    He thought that maybe because the friend could have hired someone else to do the job, maybe Hashem wanted The Wolf to use his time doing something else.

    Someone else could have done the job, paid or unpaid. So was he really doing a mitzvah?

    Since he seemed to have doubts whether or not he did a chesed, he wanted to hear from the peanut gallery.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    I don’t remember if I mentioned this earlier, but regarding the concept of “A mitzvah that could be done by others”, I always assumed that it wouldn’t necessarily apply to a Mitzvah regarding which your doing it is different than someone else’s doing it.

    For example, maybe someone could spend time with your kids, but that’s not the same as their father spending time with them. Or someone else can speak to your best friend when he is depressed, but that wouldn’t be the same as your speaking to him.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Catch yourself – why in the world wouldn’t having friends over be hachnasas orchim?

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