Our thoughts during the run-up to Tisha b'Av are all about shalom and chesed, ways we can help each other and avoid sinat chinam (baseless hatred) and build community. To a certain extent, the drumbeat is so consistent that we run the risk of thinking we already know all there is to know about kindness and doing for others.
That's why I appreciate the story of Scott Widak, a 47-year old man with Down's Syndrome and terminal liver disease, whose nephew, Sean O'Connor, posted a Reddit message asking people to send his uncle mail because "one of his favorite things to do is open mail."
As CBS tells it, he has now received more than 1,000 letters and packages, postcards and gifts.
To a certain extent, it is easier to help someone we've never met. There's no long-term obligation. There is no existing framework to dampen our creativity. There is no baggage or resentment from external factors.
Still: If so many people could do this for someone they never met, what creative ways could we devise to help those we know?