Senior Wisdom

Volunteers Plant the Seeds of Kindness

” A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up to make new trees.” Lawrence Lovasik, American minister and writer

Last week, I spoke at a volunteer appreciation dessert for a retirement community. The coordinator asked me if in addition to speaking about my mitzvah project I would address the seniors about blogging.

To open the event, the coordinator announced that this group of seniors had given at least 22,000 hours of volunteer service just this year. This was probably  a low estimate of their service hours since several residents hadn’t recorded their time. Wow, that is an impressive number. One senior who was honored as the Volunteer of the Year, told me,  “she hates it when people complain that they are bored or there is nothing to do. She keeps busy and active with daily volunteer duties that she said give her great pleasure. Why not give of yourself and help others rather than complain.” I loved that comment!


Happy 9 Month Anniversary for Blog!

I just realized that I began my blog 9 months ago today on January 19th.

Anyway, I wanted to reflect a bit on what this blog and journey has been for me these past months. I remember at the beginning feeling slightly embarrassed about sharing the idea and what I was doing with others. I emailed my closest friends that first week and wasn’t sure if it would sound like I was bragging.

However, as the months have gone by I have realized that this blog has allowed me to really take notice of the world and do good things in it when I can. It has created some wonderful conversations with my family, my friends, clients and even strangers who have happened upon the blog. I have enjoyed so much the chronicle of the year that I have kept from tracking my mitzvahs and the stories that I have already forgotten are captured for me to remember when I re-read them.

Finally, it has given me a way to move through the grief that I initially felt after my father died. It has been almost 10 months since his death and I really think that this blog has helped me tremendously with that loss in my life. People have continued to ask me how I am doing and while I miss my dad, I have this sense that he is still around and with me and I talk about him and share him and think about him alot, which I guess is what any of us would want after we our gone.

So I am no longer embarrassed by sharing my blog. I am proud of it and amazed that this simple idea could have such a big impact on my life this year. I know that in terms of my time line it will likely take more than the year to finish my 1000 mitzvahs , but that’s okay because I have discovered so much in the process. Even if it takes me 2 years, I will continue until I reach that mark.

Review of first 100 mitzvahs

I had wanted to review the mitzvahs to see how many of them actually cost money (a donation or tzedakah) and how many were just my time. I also tried to calculate how many took under 5 minutes of time.

So after reviewing the first 104 mitzvahs, here are the results. Only 24 of them actually involved money, 80 of them were just my time.

One fourth of the 80 (20) of them took 5 minutes or less. I guess my point in this was to show that mitzvahs are mostly just using your time and often they take just a few minutes. So really there it should be possible for everyone to be able to participate in doing more mitzvahs. I also realized that while reviewing the list some of the things I am now counting (writing a condolence card) I hadn’t counted at the beginning of my project. I guess as the project progresses I am evolving too.

If you have other thoughts about quick and easy mitzvahs let me know. Do you think a smile or a hug is a mitzvah? I am still up in the air about this one. I guess because I am a smiley person so this seems too easy.
Okay, now a few mitzahs to report.

105) Helping my children give tzedakah last night.

106) Donations to Goodwill.

107) Hazardous waste to our traveling recycling plant.

About this Blog

Hi my name is Linda Cohen. I recently lost my father, Peter Rabow and had decided to take some time reflecting this profound transition in my life. The experience of losing a parent I have discovered is very significant and effects us on a deep level. During my reflection, I began thinking about the word mitzvah. Prior to my father’s death, I discussed with him the idea of donating money in his memory to a charity that was performing mitzvahs. I suggested an organization I was familiar with called Ziv Tzedakah. This organization raises money for incredible grass roots operations that are doing tremendous things for people in the United States and Israel. A few nights ago I had an idea wondering how long it would take for someone (like me) to perform 1000 mitzvahs or commandments. I wondered if I could do it in a year or less. I also wondered if people would sponsor me and donate money to Ziv Tzedakah in honor of the 1000 mitzvahs I would do this year. So here I am with my own website and the dream that we will raise $10,000 for this amazing charity while doing good deeds. I will keep you posted on the mitzvahs we do ( my family would like to take part in this with me.)

Before we get started though, I want to give some background on the word mitzvah.

Mitzvah (Hebrew: מצווה, IPA: [ˈmɪtsvə], “commandment”; plural, mitzvot; from צוה, tzavah, “command”) is a word used in Judaism to refer to (a) the commandments, of which there are 613, given in the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) or (b) any Jewish law at all. The term can also refer to the fulfilment of a mitzvah as defined above.
The term mitzvah has also come to express any act of human kindness, such as the burial of the body of an unknown person. According to the teachings of Judaism, all moral laws are, or are derived from, divine commandments.

This will be a learning process for me as well since I generally know what human kindnesses are but as of yet am not versed on all of the 613 mitzvahs. I will need to learn them and know what they are. This is very exciting and I am looking forward to a year filled with human kindnesses numbering many more than 1000.

For more information about Ziv Tzedakah visit their website at If you would like to support this project please feel free to donate to Ziv and help sponsor us in our endeavor. In addition, perhaps you will want to take on a mitzvah or two and then let me know about it.