Do The Right Thing vs. Do The Nice Thing… Lessons From Judaism — By Marc

I remember in High School having a girl say you were a “nice guy” was the kiss of death. I literally had girls say that they did not want to go out with me, because I was too nice. Noooooooooo! I was not that nice.

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Girls, it seemed… at least the ones I knew… did not want nice guys. They wanted someone broken that they could fix. I was always fascinated (read really frustrated and confused) when guys I perceived as being jerks and quite mean had multiple girls competing for them. I didn’t get it. I still don’t get it, though money, fame or power seems to play into it a lot more these days.

Then again, a lot of guys did not want nice girls, but that is a whole other story and probably not for this post.

Nice has a strange, Pollyanna, and puritanical connotation. It’s a bit flat and vanilla. I find kind and generous to be much stronger virtues… and I do strive to do the RIGHT thing, which is far more active and potent.

I have a friend who loves to boast on what a nice guy he is. Yet when I hear his follow-ups to his actions, they often confuse me. The behavior does not seem that nice, perhaps because being nice is very subjective. He is doing what he THINKS is nice, but it is his opinion, or our opinion.

Whereas doing the RIGHT thing is a lot more black and white… usually. We probably know what the RIGHT thing to do is, in almost any setting or situation… but whether we actually follow through is a whole other story. Quite often, doing the right thing is not easy. But what a way to live!

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I shared this quote with him, as it really resonated with me, and seemed timely based on our discussions. It came with the Day 6 Omer Counting Meditation, courtesy of the Chabad Omer Counter App.

“Change your attitude. Instead of doing what is nice, do what is right.”

– From the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory; words and condensation by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, and his book, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. 

images-1I will say that I am taking this a bit out of context, as the whole quote was talking about money and charity, but the second sentence here struck me as being very important.

The Meditation on Day 36 was even more direct and quite powerful:
“The world around you is in shambles—and you are probably no exception. The chasm between what you should be and what you actually are is so vast, you cannot see yourself changing anything.

That’s His job. Your job is to think good thoughts. Your job is to do good deeds.

He will make a bridge from your thoughts to your deeds and together they will become the most powerful instrument of change in the world.”

Again, from the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory; words and condensation by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, and his book, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth.

So the lesson is clear… we MUST do the right thing. Always. We MUST start with good thoughts… which will lead us to good deeds and Hashem will take care of the rest.

There are so many instances in Torah and Judaism that talk about this… about treating people well, treating people with respect… and this is something that HAS TO HAPPEN across the board. This is something that should be a part of who we are, part of who our people are… part of what makes us up… part of our DNA… Do the right thing.

A lot of times doing the right thing means putting yourself in jeopardy, or at least putting yourself in a tough situation. If you are at a shop or restaurant and you noticed they left something off the bill, you KNOW the right thing to do is to point it out… It doesn’t matter if the service was bad or something was off. It doesn’t matter if you could really use the money. The right thing to do is be honest, to point it out, to treat people well… to treat people with respect.

Really simple things, but a good, solid way of living your life. This is essential to who we are… and who I want to be and become… and I love that Judaism enlightens me and guides me in this… Yes, we hope that this is part of human nature… instinctual… but knowing there is a religion and a system in place that supports this… and supports us is powerful and vital.

The lesson is simple, but I will say it once again… Think good thoughts… Do good deeds… do the right thing… It will come back to you, multiplied.

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