Rachel Imeinu ztk’l certainly portrays the trait of mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice). Her unconditional willingness to do anything for the sake of alleviating her sisters pain and embarrassment is unparalleled.
Being that we are descendants of such righteous Matriarchs and Patriarchs we have it in us to do the same. However, life is not about scoring it ‘high’ on the kindness chart. It is about loving to and being enthused by the idea of doing chesed with others. The emphasis is on how our heart responds when involved with acts of kindness. We earn the title chasid by elevating our love of performing acts of chesed.
How do we do it? Train the mind and body. Pledge to do one, two, three acts of kindness everyday. Search, seek and beg for it. That measure of self-sacrifice will already instill within the unshakable need to be kind and immeasurable pleasure when having found it. Mankind has a natural tendency to act with self-preservation, “Will I have enough?” “Am I cheating myself when I give to another?” Therefore we need to enter ‘Chesed boot camp’ and break away from our anxiety that we are depriving ourselves when we give to others.
Let us remember an important point when working on any of our middot (character traits). When we go beyond our nature, we bond closer to what is above, Hashem. Hashem ‘resides’ so to speak in our attributes. Thus when we emulate ‘G-dly traits’ we draw closer to Him. The condition: do so unconditionally. Be kind to others not because ‘they deserve it’ or you ‘feel for them’. Be compassionate, kind and helpful beyond what you think or feel. Do it just because you are a G-dly individual and want to reach high spiritual levels of giving and attach yourself to Hashem through it.
In the merit of Rachel Imeinu’s act of care and love for her sister, she was able to ‘convince’ Hashem to save the Jewish people when they went into exile. She merited such closeness because her essence was one of unconditional compassion and love.