What is Chesed?
The first quality (middah) is chesed, or unconditional love. The outpouring of support, love, and encouragement that is the foundation of human flourishing.
Other translations of Chesed are:
- Covenantal love
- Relational love
So what? How does it relate to me?
Chesed undergirds our most important human relations: parent, child, spouse, or other loved one.
This quality is essential in having the deepest potential relationships with those around us. Without chesed, our interactions are transactional, thin, and ephemeral.
The most poignant example of chesed in interpersonal relationships is through covenantal relationships, most easily conceptualized in a marriage.
As such, both parties commit to weather the vagaries of life together. A covenantal relationship is expressed in terms of chesed, love and commitment which overflow all boundaries, granting us the fortitude necessary to make it through the most challenging moments in our lives.
Chesed expresses itself bidirectionally: receiving love and expressing love.
Each aspect requires its own psychological scaffolding. The quality of our lives is intricately linked to how well we empower ourselves to receiving chesed from others and well we are able to express chesed to those whom we most love.
Every one of us is invited into a covenantal relationship with the Holy One. As the ultimate Source, God is continuously pouring chesed into our lives.
We are invited to recognize these blessings in our relationships with others, in the splendor of the natural world, and in the goodness that humanity brings.
Chesed practice for the week:
- Before bed each night, write down three concrete examples of how chesed showed up your life that day.
- Each morning, review yesterday’s 3 moments of chesed.
- Reach out to someone whose chesed has impacted your life and tell them about it.