These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

The Distance Between Who We Are and Who We Want to Be

Posted on October 2, 2012 by Lauren Schuchart

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(Cross-posted from my blog)

The morning before Yom Kippur began, I was on a mission to buy food for the “break fast” (specifically borekas and other assorted fattening pastries). The streets were pretty crowded as it seemed everyone had a last-minute mind like myself.

I walked past a woman who was holding a bag full of little toy animal crafts. She stopped me, and told me in Hebrew that she is selling these homemade animal crafts to buy books for her daughters to go to school.

While a compelling story, I said, “Sorry, not today,” and kept going on my way. After all, I was on a mission.

As I bought my food and ran various other errands, I couldn’t stop thinking of this encounter. My slightly-neurotic mind kept replaying the scenario, something like this:

Lauren, why didn’t you stop and at least talk to her a little bit? But what if she was lying, and wasn’t actually buying school books for her daughters? That’s probably it. Maybe she didn’t even make the crafts? Don’t be a sucker. You were in a hurry, and you can’t just help everyone that you see on the street. Besides, she didn’t look like she needed help. You don’t have a lot of spare money to give, anyway. Why are you even still thinking about this?

In the least likely of places, I was hit with my Yom Kippur “aha” moment, something I had spent weeks trying to cultivate.

Too often, I rush from place to place, not noticing what’s around me. Too often, I focus on what I don’t have, rather than the abundance that I do. And too often, I think too much with my over-active brain, rather than my heart.

I went back to the spot where I saw the woman, and purchased one of her tiny crafts. She told me all about her daughters, with a huge smile on her face.

The point of this story is not for you to say, “oh Lauren, what a do-gooder!” because more often than not, I walk past the person on the street. Also, the point is not to say that I should give to every person who needs, an obviously impossible charge.

But this was a unique opportunity to reflect on some resolutions for the new year:

Slow down and take time to look around.
Recognize that I have so much more than I tend to think that I do.
Give people the benefit of the doubt, more often than not.
Be guided a little more with my heart and compassion, rather than my head.

And as a reminder of these resolutions, I have this little giraffe. Cute, eh?:

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, wonderful New Year!