The Day After Yom Kippur
The day after Yom Kippur. To try to hang onto the spiritual high, and to get rid of the headache and exhaustion, I went to walk the boardwalk from Brighton beach to Seagate and back. As I neared Seagate, an old Jew – skinny, long, gray beard, kippah askew – called out to me: “Miss! Miss!” I looked toward him as he continued “Give me a nice donation?” I say, “I’ll see what I can do on the way back.”
At Seagate’s wall, I stop to pull a $5 bill out of my pocket. I walk back toward the man and he says again, “Can you give me a nice donation?” I say, “I can give you $5.” He sniffs in disappointment but takes it as I say, “That is all I can do today.” He nods. OK.
I wished for a little gratitude and then reprimanded myself. Whatever brings him to the point of sitting on a bench at the beach asking passersby for money is much harder than anything I can imagine. Why should he be grateful for my measly $5?
If teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah temper the severity of God’s decree of random death this year, where does this experience fit? Obviously I gave some tzedakah. But right away the day after all those confessions I had to stop myself from my misplaced desire for some gratitude. At least I stopped myself. Is that teshuvah enough? I pray that this year I keep stopping myself a minute before doing or saying something stupid and unnecessary. That’s my tefillah for today. I guess it has to be enough, for one day.
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