Distribution of Bread in Village (1892) by Frans Van Leemputten, Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Entering my dry cleaners’ parking lot, I pulled into my usual parking spot.

But something different stared me in the face.

Sitting in front of my car, on the parking lot’s low cement wall was a homeless man.

You may ask, “Mort, how do you know he was homeless?”

“Well, that’s an easy one. He was surrounded by all of this worldly possessions stuffed into five green plastic grocery bags.”

This sixty-something-year old wore a thread-bare blue and grey T-shirt, discolored brown pants and Keds sneakers dusted in dirt.

I felt pity and compassion, rachmones, on this poor soul.

Pity in that he allowed himself to go down this road.

Compassion for I had no idea how he ended up in this condition but I felt his pain, for he had:

No bed to sleep in;

No money to spend;

No idea when he would eat his next meal;

Five overstuffed green grocery bags.

I thought, “There, but for the grace of G-d, go I.”

“Today, this solitary man serves as my angel.”

An angel that sat before my eyes and demanded justice and righteous.

And then I remembered, I had a freshly brewed cup of coffee and two packages of white oyster crackers in my car.

“Would you like this latte and these crackers,” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

And you may ask, “Mort, what did you get for this gesture of kindness?”

“Well, I got a G-dly smile and a humble, ‘Thank you.'”

With that blessing, I walked into dry cleaners, picked up my shirts and pants and returned to my car

Standing next to my car, I watched the gentleman happily munching on the crackers and sipping on the coffee.

I had made my angel happy.

And now was my chance to show him some additional rachmones.

¬†I opened my wallet looking for a few singles and realized it was this man’s lucky day.

Handing him a five, I said my obligatory, “G-d bless you.”

And you may ask, “Mort, what did this homeless man give you?”

“Well, he gave me the best ear-to-ear smile I had ever seen.”

And the knowledge that I had passed G-d’s tzedakah test with flying colors.

And I felt great.

For I had given a homeless man a few minutes of happiness and he had given me a day of joy.

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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