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Chesed, kindness, is a mitzvah in Judaism.

Say people are coming to you all day asking for favors, should one make an effort to do every favor that is asked or is there a sane limit to how much chesed one should be doing?

I know that with charity the upper limit is 20% of one's income. Is there any such limit with chesed/gemilut chassadim?

Should one take any measure to prevent others from taking advantage of him?

  • what do you mean by "sane limit"? – ray Feb 21 '16 at 6:09
  • Recommended reading: Ahavas Chessed by the Chafetz Chaim. Should answer all your questions. – Salmononius2 Feb 21 '16 at 11:32
  • @ray, that's open to interpretation. My intention was that you shouldn't be left out of breath after doing chessed all day long (or something along those lines). – Ani Yodea Feb 22 '16 at 21:58
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There is no shiur for gmilut hassadim (acts of kindness) as the Mishna says (Peah 1:1)

These are the things that have no measure: [...] acts of kindness, and the study of the Torah. These are things the fruits of which a man enjoys in this world, while the principal remains for him in the World to Come: Honoring one's father and mother, acts of kindness, and bringing peace between a man and his fellow. But the study of Torah is equal to them all.

Now the fact that there is no limit doesn't mean chesed is always first priority. See for instance here

If a man is occupied with learning of Torah, his Torah takes precedence. When one is engaged in one mitzva, he is generally exempted from another mitzva. If while learning Torah the opportunity for chesed presents itself, if someone else is able to perform the chesed, the man should not interrupt his study. If, however, no one else is available or willing to perform the chesed, the law (Yora Daya 246:18) says to do the chesed. Since the person or cause means that there is need, you are required in order that the need be fulfilled. Then, when the chesed has been accomplished, return to your learning.

If more people request chesed (practical kindness) or tzadaka (charity) than you can provide, there is an elaborate and complex order of priorities which have to be studied or discussed with a Torah scholar. Generally, higher priorities go with the closer relative, the one who dwells in a location more close to you, the greater person in Torah, a Kohain over a Levi over a Yisroel over a momzer, a female over a male, a destitute person over a wealthy person, the greater the measure or suffering or weakness. Since actual cases can be complex (e.g. a talmid chochom momzer is over an ignorant Kohain), a rav must be asked who has the higher the priority.

  • Does that Mishna mean there is no upper limit or no lower limit? – Double AA Oct 26 '17 at 14:26

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