The Coat and the Glory
by Chana Klein
How does one really show kindness to another? Chesed in Hebrew means kindness or giving. In the Torah
writings, there are many ways to give and to show kindness. One of those is Chesed of Hod. Hod in Hebrew
means Shine. Chesed of Hod means to give in such a way that makes the person you are giving to shine.
The Coat and the Glory - A Story of Chesed in Hod by Chana Klein
Mrs. Lin, sat in the crowded waiting room of the doctor's office with her daughter, both hoping that the doctor could help her with the pains she is having in her neck and back. Mrs. Lin was wrinkled and pale, her face lacking any life. Her body washunched over as if her bones were collapsing over each other.
The wait was already more than 30 minutes. Mrs. Lin made a trip to the restroom. On her way back to her seat in the waiting room, she spotted an elegant, long white fox fur coat in the closet by the nurse's desk. She was so drawn to the coat that she took it off the hangar and put it over her shoulders. She paraded around the waiting room in it with her head held high and her facial expression appearing to be about 30 years younger. Her posture was straight with smoothness and confidence that she had not had since her days of royalty in South Korea. Mrs. Lin had been a royal queen before the fall of the government there. Wearing the coat brought her right back there and while she walked in this coat, there was no pain.
The other patients watched the now statuesque figure as she walked around, wearing the white fur coat. The daughter felt ashamed that her mother took something that did not belong to her.
At this point, the receptionist called them into the examining room.
Mrs. Lin walked into the examining room still wearing the coat.
"Mother, take off that coat," the daughter pleaded. "Mother, that is not yours. Take it off. Put it back."
Mrs. Lin seemed to not even hear her daughter. She followed the receptionist into the examining room but she did not sit down. She continued to parade around the examining room as she had done in the waiting room.
Dr. Serin came into the room. The doctor was almost speechless. Who is this woman? "What on earth are you doing wearing my coat?" she asked.
Her daughter explained, "Dr Serin, please do not be angry. My mother does not want to hurt anyone. Wearing this coat makes her forget how she is now and brings her back to the days when she was honored and respected by everyone as a queen in the Joseon Dynasty.
One of the nurse's in the office knew of Mrs. Lin and how she had been an influence for good for the people of Korea in her days of glory.
And then, "Mother, you must take off that coat!"
"I am so sorry, Dr. Serin. Please forgive us."
Mrs. Lin looked at her daughter and seemed to hear her this time.
As she began removing the beautiful coat, her posture and facial expression went back to being scrunched and hunched. She was once again the old bent over, wrinkled woman. The daughter helped her mother to get onto the examining table.
Dr. Serin thanked Mrs. Lin for taking her coat off. The contrast is remarkable she thought and as she examined Mrs. Lin she could not forget the royalty that shined in her being when she wore that coat.
The doctor thought about what she had seen. That coat looks more like it is for Mrs. Lin than it is for me. That is who Mrs. Lin really is. The coat created the transformation and healed her to being who she really is.
Then the doctor picked up the coat and put it back on Mrs. Lin's shoulders. "I think this coat is more for you than it is for me."
As Mrs. Lin's posture returned to upright and her expression to one of confidence with the coat on, the doctor felt wonderful about her decision to give the coat to Mrs. Lin.
That coat brought out the "hod" of Mrs. Linn. It brought out who she really is at her best. Wearing that coat made that happen. "To me," the doctor thought, "it's just a coat. To Mrs. Lin, it is her essence. "
The doctor did the middah of Chesed of Hod. When she interacted with her patient. Instead of responding to the thief or to the old decrepit lady, the doctor saw Mrs. Lin's inner glory and she responded to that part of her. She nurtured a sense of dignity within Mrs. Lin that Mrs. Lin did not yet even own herself.
To give to another and thereby make him/her shine is Chesed of Hod.
When has that been done to you? When have you done that for someone else?
How might you do it again- Chesed of Hod - giving that makes the recipient shine?
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