Striving for Derech Eretz in Everyday Life By Shalom Freedman (279 Pages)Publisher: Urim Publications, 2004
"Derech eretz is, in its broadest sense, acting with consideration and kindness to one s fellow human beings, and in so doing, fulfilling the will of God. In Jewish religious terms, everyday life presents us with constant struggles to act in the correct way -- we are constantly battling between good and evil. It is a never-ending ethical drama in which the individual should always be striving to serve God in the best way possible. It means being able to transcend the mere formulaic response, yet, in turn, also being able to endure the anguish that true freedom of choice often encompasses.
It is important to try to speak with those people who no one else seems to care for. This morning I spoke with a person who hangs out at the shul. He has a speech impediment, and is a harmless, quiet religious person. He is so alone but never complains. Today we talked more than ever before. He has such a smile of innocence and openness. I know how it is when you are alone, and suddenly someone listens to you and makes you feel that you are a human being again.
Excerpts from Small Acts of Kindness