Yeshua teaches, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Those who are merciful and compassionate towards others are blessed because they will receive mercy and compassion from God. Conversely, one who does not show mercy toward others should not expect to receive mercy from heaven. The Talmud says, “He who is merciful to men, toward him God is merciful in heaven.”
The beatitude of the merciful finding mercy with God belongs to a series of the Master’s teaching based upon the biblical rule of measure-for-measure. “By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you,” Yeshua explained. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Mathew 6:14-15). For this reason, disciples of Yeshua cannot hold grudges or practice vengeance and retaliation. We are told, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
The sages extended this principle of receiving mercy on the merit of showing mercy even to the way that we treat animals. The following story from the Talmud illustrates the importance of showing mercy to all of God’s creatures:
Rabbi Yehudah’s physical sufferings came upon him because of certain incident. What was it? A calf being taken to the slaughter broke free and, lowing in terror, hid his head under the folds of Rabbi’s garment. “Go,” said Rabbi, “For this purpose you were created.” Then they said in heaven, “Since he has no compassion, let us bring suffering upon him.” Because of a similar incident, his sufferings departed. What was it? One day Rabbi Yehudah’s maidservant was sweeping out the house when she came upon a nest of young weasels. She was about to sweep them away when he said, “Leave them. It is written [in Psalm 145:9], ‘His mercies are over all His works.’” Then they said in heaven, “Since he is compassionate, let us be compassionate to him” (b.Bava Metzia 85a).
If we should show mercy to an animal, how much more so to our fellow human being? A person should never stifle compassion and empathy, even in the case of mute beasts, for one who stifles his sense of compassion teaches his heart to become calloused. The merciless in this age should not expect to find mercy from God, but the merciful will receive mercy in the age to come.