It was the night of Yom Kippur, the holiest time of the year.

As all the Jews were gathering in shul anxiously awaiting their rebbe’s arrival to begin the prayer services, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, also known as the Alter Rebbe, mysteriously left the small European village.

Some of his devoted and admiring chassidim speculated that their beloved leader went to heaven, connecting to G‑d and His angels in the heavenly spheres in preparation for this holy time.

Where was their beloved leader?

As the Rebbe’s chassidim waited worriedly for him to arrive, he was climbing deep into the woods, with a sack on his back, to chop down wood.

They later learned that he then proceeded to bring the firewood and the sack into the lonely little house of an impoverished widow who had just given brith and her five small children. Saving a life is so important, that chopping wood and creating fire—normally forbidden on the holy day—are permitted.

No task was beneath this great Torah scholar as he created a blazing fire in the fireplace, unpacked the food and clothes from the sack, lovingly fed the children and left the woman with many kind and caring words.

Perhaps we could say that the Alter Rebbe went to a place even higher than heaven.

True goodness and giving often involves nurturing and caring in little ways that go unseenWhat is true goodness? What is true giving?

Judaism gently teaches us through the stories of the scroll that true goodness is not carried out in a blaze of glory.

True goodness and giving often involves nurturing and caring in little ways that go unseen.

Often when it’s hard.

Often when it hurts.

Often when it’s not really “my job.”

Impacting this world is not reserved for the knight in shining armor, for the airbrushed faces of Hollywood.

It is the responsibility and right of every one of us—with all of our talents and strengths, and yes, with all of our weaknesses.

We, and our loved ones, are immortalized long after we are gone, through the kind acts on this earth—the comforting whisper to a frightened child, the mending of a broken heart, the giving of charity when we need to dig deep, the patience and forbearance to a cantankerous relative, the nourishing home-cooked meal delivered with love . . .

It is through this goodness and giving that we touch the divine, ascending higher than heaven.