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Holiest Beggar in the World (or Market Day in Machane Yehuda)

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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: Holiest Beggar in the World (or Market Day in Machane Yehuda)

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Holiest Beggar in the World (or Market Day in Machane Yehuda)

Sometimes, its easy to be thankful. To be makir tov to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Sometimes; like right now, for instance.

I’m watching an old Jew begging for money on the street. In America, they’d call him a vagrant. Probably lock him up. Here, he’s just another heilige yiddele, working the pedestrian traffic of the Machane-Yehudah shuk. He appears to be of Sefardic origin, and has a classic weather beaten face with a rugged profile. Entranced, I watch him sitting in a folding chair parked in the middle of the shuk, and I’m hypnotized by his efforts to obtain money for…I don’t know exactly. A meal? Clothing? Rent? Luxuries not, I’m certain. Maybe I’ll ask him what he needs the money for. Probably not. I’m also having an internal debate whether or not to add to the meager pile of change in his little plastic cup. Maybe I will.

Each passerby merits, or is subjected to, depending on your perspective, the same routine; the fellow shakes his plastic disposable cup in their direction, and jangles the few loose coins in it in hopes of attracting their attention. His eyes light up and his body tenses electrically as each potential charity-giver passes. And I watch how his face falls as each passerby, in turn, passes him by. His eyes glaze over lightly, and his head shakes almost imperceptibly in the slightest of nods.
What a life to live. To experience disappointment on an existential level every time someone walks by. How does he do it?

I thought I knew a little about disappointment, and what it means not to attain the object of your desire. But I have little doubt this guy could teach me a lot about my little, petty desires. Imagine living life dependant on the generosity of others. But not in a million dollar donation of which you collect 10% commission sort of way. In the hand-to-mouth way that this oini does. Scary.

In a selfish way, I wish I could accurately the scene in front of me. The disillusionment that this yiddele is experiencing on a minute-by-minute level. The roller coaster ride of emotion he embarks on, every minute, every day. But I can’t. I know that superlatively speaking, I don’t have anything to work with, to draw from in my own life’s experience to match this.

And I’m thankful for that.

But as time goes by, another thought occurs to me.

This man sits here every day. He’s likely spent a long time in the streets- too long. And yet, he still waits on the line to get onto the roller coaster he rides, daily. And here’s the key. If he still gets on it, if he can still be hopeful every time someone walks by, doesn’t that mean that he feels he has something to be hopeful for? Ninety-nine of one hundred people will walk on past, completely oblivious. But because of that hundredth person who pauses for a second to shell out a few shekels, it is all worth it. And somehow, our holy beggar can still hope and pray that the other ninety-nine people will possibly part with some cash. Is such feeling not disillusionment, but the greatest of faith?

But you knew that wasn’t gonna be the end of the story…here’s where we translate and scale the story down to us.

If he can do it, can’t we? Hope in our fellow man? In Moshiach?
Believe in Hakodosh Baruch Hu, in his nearness, his closeness?

And as to whether or not I gave him…well, that’s a story for another time.

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