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Syndicated Columns

To be a good person, do good, thoughtful deeds

Posted April 29 2006

Q. What makes a good person? -- S. L., Boca Raton

A. Attorney Alan Dershowitz states, "For most people, the question `Why be good?' -- as distinguished from merely law-abiding -- is a simple one: because God commands it, because the Bible requires it, because good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell."

According to Kabbalist teachings, there is an internal struggle to be good. It comes from two conflicting inclinations in every human being. Each person has two hearts; one that loves to do the right thing, and one that prefers to be selfish. Developing an awareness of this internal struggle helps us differentiate between the body and the soul.

It is important for us to recognize our inclinations so we may channel them for good. For example, if we know we have a strong need to be admired, we might strive to become known for doing good deeds.

Our eternal soul is on a mission to fulfill its potential and seeks to love humanity, establish justice, be altruistic, sensible, honorable and responsible. Meanwhile, our body looks to satisfy its material desires by lusting, acquiring, controlling and accumulating things such as wealth, recognition and a sense of importance.

We usually know a person is good by what they do. They will perform thoughtful deeds and show kindness to others. Being helpful, caring, understanding, patient, and loving are also traits associated with being a good person.

The Bible instructs us by saying, "Don't forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God" (Hebrews 13:16). And, I may add, helpful to humanity.

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