If two people simultaneously do the same thing for each other, instead of each one doing it for himself, is that considered Gemilus chesed?

For example, if each of two people, need a chair to sit at the table, and they make an agreement between themselves that each one should carry a chair over to the table for the other person instead of each carrying a chair for himself, is this chesed?

It would seem that since one is not saving the other person any work at all, since he has to do the same thing for his friend he gained nothing form what his friend did for him, so where's the chessed.

On the other hand, the bottom line is that right now each has a chair due to the other person's work, and If the other had not done it he would have to have done it for himself, so each did a chessed for the other, regardless of the fact that his friend also did it?

[Note: I understand that there might be an advantage in doing things this way, in order to get oneself used to doing things for others. If one does something for someone even when he doesn't need him to, it will strengthen his character and positive relationship to others. But my question is, is this just an exercise in chesed character training, or is it actually considered a mitzvah of chessed?]

  • 2
    How is this Chesed? You are paying the other with your labor to bring you a chair
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2018 at 13:47
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Why can't you get paid for chesed?
    – WAF
    Jun 18, 2018 at 17:09
  • 2
    @waf isn't that called "a job"? If you chose the job of helping the needy instead of something else then you can certainly be viewed as donating the opportunity cost
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2018 at 17:12
  • @DoubleAA Point taken. I honestly don't know if those are mutually exclusive, and I'm sure it depends on how broadly we define chesed. I know that it is used a lot in contrast to g'vura as a class of giving-like behaviors that could include paid occupations like providing services that help the needy find jobs, secure healthcare, etc. (I think it would take a somewhat broader definition to include the acts described in the question, but it's hard to put a fine point on a mida.)
    – WAF
    Jun 18, 2018 at 17:18
  • 1
    I cannot find it online and don't remember where I heard the following story, possibly mangled in my memory: Rabbi A and a bunch of his students went to visit Rabbi B in the latter's study. There were not enough chairs, so students went into an adjoining room and each brought back a chair and sat on it. Rabbi B told them they should've brought chairs for one another rather than for themselves. Alas, I don't remember the punch line, the part relevant to your question: did he say it would actually be a fulfillment of the מצוה of חסד? But if someone can find the story, maybe we'll know.
    – msh210
    Jun 18, 2018 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


We can probably learn it from Gemmorah in Meggila, (7b) where swapping the meals counts as Mishloah Manot.

It is unclear whether the Mitzvah of Gmilus Chessed is on Cheftzah or Gavra, meaning if it depends on your intentions even if the receiving side does not benefit from it, or it depends on the recipient's benefit, no matter what you intentions were.

Either way, in your case, if they intended to benefit each other and they did enjoyed the other's effort, they fulfilled the Mitzvah.

However if one's action was on condition that the other will return him a favor the Poskim will probably disagree, some will say it is a sort of "שמור לי ואשמור לך" and some will still hold it is a G"H as there's no clear definition for G"H.

  • 2
    Where is this Gemara? Where is this dispute?
    – DonielF
    Jun 20, 2018 at 12:03
  • 1
    @Al Berko 1- Each one got a gift, so it may be considered Mishloach Manos but maybe it's not chessed since he did not save his opponent any effort. That was my question. Is it chessed in such a situation? 2- How do you know that "if they intended to benefit each other and they did enjoyed the effort, they fulfilled the Mitzvah." My question still stands, maybe since no effort was saved, there is no chessed. Jun 20, 2018 at 12:15
  • @DonielF At least between me and my Chevrusah :), but do you agree that it is not clear and Poskim disagree?
    – Al Berko
    Jun 20, 2018 at 12:39
  • @AlBerko “There’s a dispute.” That is extremely misleading. I don’t think it’s unclear at all - the passuk says that each man should send gifts to his friend. That sounds like chovas gavra to me. I don’t know if Poskim disagree or not because I haven’t looked into the sugya, so no, I don’t agree. If you feel that the Poskim should argue on this issue, take a look at the Poskim and see what they say, then post your findings. And you still haven’t said where this Gemara is in Megillah.
    – DonielF
    Jun 20, 2018 at 12:43
  • @RibbisRabbiAndMore Sorry, edited. Your question fulfills both the requirements, so it should be G"H by both the Shitot.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:28

The famous Jerusalem Maggid, Rabbi Ben Tzion Yadler, in his book "Be'tov Yerushalayim," relates, that a secret society was once established in Jerusalem. The purpose of the society, was "mutual aid". Meaning that each person pledged to assist his friend/s in the organization.

The "Brotherhood Society" was apparently founded in Jerusalem in 1895, and it maintained total secrecy. The members, who were known as "brothers," devoted themselves to each other in mutual assistance in various fields.

Rabbi Ben Zion Yadler was a a person whose essence was doing kindness and charity, so when he heard about the new society, he debated whether or not to join its ranks. He therefore decided to seek advice from the elders, and approached Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin of Brisk, zt"l, who had immigrated to Jerusalem in 1878, and was one of the leaders of the Jewish community there.

When Rabbi Yehoshua Leib heard his question, he first asked to hear Rabbi Ben-Zion's opinion on the matter.

Rabbi Ben-Zion answered: "In my opinion, this is a positive and important thing, since the foundation of society is based on the commandment of 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

But Rabbi Yehoshua Leib disagreed with him, and said emphatically: "This is not a matter of 'love your neighbor,' but rather a matter of 'love yourself.'" The Torah commands us to love every one of us, even those who are not members of his "society".

Rabbi Ben-Zion accepted the answer, and turned to leave. Whereupon Rabbi Yehoshua Leib continued, said to him: "God forbid, you should not enter this society that is against the Torah."

  • @IsraeliReader Thank you for the beautiful story. Now, can you please apply it to make it an answer to my question? Is it Chessed? Is it Veahavta Leraiacha? Is it Love yourself?? I have an awesome story of 2 gedolei olam, but I still do not have an answer to my question. Jun 20, 2018 at 19:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .