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And it gave me one of those warm and fuzzy feelings inside…

I was going to shul for the evening prayer service to say the mourner’s kaddish. On some nights, there is a lady who sits outside the entrance with a cup and asks any who passes by for tzedaka – charity money. She’s probably in her 50s, and only speaks hebrew, and you can tell she’s probably not all there. In any case, I usually give her what I bring for tzedaka, which in all honesty isn’t much, maybe 25-50 cents. Tonight I noticed that she had a few stacks of kippas on the ground in front of her, which was kind of odd. As I was passing by, she made some sort of sound that indicated that she wanted my attention. Unfortunately my gut reaction was to think “great, she wants me to buy a kippah from her!” so I just said ‘slicha, lo tzarich,’ ‘sorry, I don’t need one!’ and was about to walk through the doors when she yelled out ‘Matana!’ (gift) and now I thought that this was her sales pitch. “You can buy it as a gift for someone!”. So I again in my broken hebrew said ‘Lo tzarich!’ and was again about to walk inside. But she was adamant and yelled ‘Matana!’ once more and motioned for me to come over to her. I realized that what she meant was that she wanted to give it to me as a present. So she handed me a kippah and smiled, then I thanked her and smiled and finally went inside to pray.

I know a lot of people get really annoyed by the people in the neighboorhood who hang out in busy areas and ask for money, or at the full time yeshiva students who walk around the synagogue during prayer time and ask for money. I know that I often do. But we have to remember that these people are people too, and we don’t know their situation. I don’t know why this woman sits in front of the shul and begs for money. I don’t know why she chooses this lifestyle, instead of getting a job. But I learned today that she is just as kind as any of us. Just like us, she also wants to be a giver, and not a taker. Her situation for one reason or another requires that she be a taker, but she showed me tonight that this is not her preferred way of being. The moment she acquired a surplus of something, she gave it out, to a stranger no less! Deep down, we all want to be givers. And I think we should all remember this next time someone asks us for money. That person is only asking because they need to, and they would much prefer to be on the other end. We should all appreciate what we have, and appreciate that we have the means to be a giver. It’s truly a priviledge. Take advantage of it!

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2 Responses to “Something nice happened today…”

  1. john smith says:

    i very much enjoyed this post. shana tova

  2. Vadim says:

    I like the insight, good read

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