Sunday, September 03, 2006
Tzedoka

That's what the Alter Rebbe has been talking about in recent portions of Tanya. How it opens up heavenly chambers, helps us understand G-d more. But it's not enough to just give some change. You have to give of yourself. A kind word, a reassuring smile.

Which brings me to my dilemma: there's a local tzedoka collector who is mentally ill. He hovers around the shuls, the heimishe stores, the kosher restaurants. I have come out of kosher stores and he follows me to my car. He stands verrrrrry close to me and whispers - "tzedoka." It frightens me. Alone with my children in a parking lot, with a strange man a couple of inches away. I debated whether or not to mention it to the store manager - who wants to get a mentally ill schnorrer in trouble? What would the spiritual repercussions be? But after a couple of incidences, I decided to say something. "Yes, I've been getting a lot of complaints about him."

The other day I took my kids out for pizza. He was there. My heart sank. Would he follow me? I darted into the pizza store, watched him loitering outside. The whole time I was in turmoil. He didn't approach me. I was relieved.

Logically, one could say he's in the wrong. Wrong to follow people, wrong to approach a woman - alone - at such close range. But the Jew inside me is dissonant. Why does this tzedoka collector bother me so much? Why am I afraid of him? Surely the mitzvah of tzedoka would protect me. Where's my faith? What's the real reason behind my tribulation? Am I greedy? It's a fine line.

We're supposed to use our seichel - our brains - to sort things out. It's one thing to be aloft in the spiritual realms, and another to use common sense. You also have to trust that "voice" inside. And my inner-voice screams "DANGER!"

But still I want to know: Why?



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My Photo Name: Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven
Location: Chutz l'aretz - Outside of Brooklyn

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