Day of Atonement

IMG_5719A Jewish Colleague and Friend asked me last week, “Can I ask you a question? Where did you learn your Yiddisha? You speak it better than anyone I know. You spell it better than anyone I know…”

I had signed an Email “L’Shonah Tova Tikatevu!” (i.e.: “HAPPY NEW YEAR! May You be inscribed and sealed [in the Book of Life] for a Good year…”)

I told her that I grew up in New York Theater, and the Fabulous BARBARA COLTON was my Mentor in such things!
I also have spent the Jewish Holidays every year with my Best Friend’s Family (And after more than 35 years, Very Much My Own Family Too!)

 

I’ve Always Enjoyed So Many Aspects of Judaism.

I Love that each Day Begins with a Beautiful Sunset.

Then, we start out the day with a Wonderful Meal (What most of us would Call Dinner),

Followed by some time in the Evening to relax, unwind, enjoy, see a Show — Whatever you do with your Evening,

Then there is a Long Nap — Maybe Eight Hours.

You awaken to the Sun, and then, at the end of the day, you head off to Work or to do whatever you do with your Day.

Then, when you’re finished, at Dusk, the Day begins anew.

I always thought this was So COOL — Measuring the Day from Sunset to Sunset.

I Love Sunsets!

The Fabulous BARBARA COLTON

The Fabulous BARBARA COLTON

Today is YOM KIPPUR, the Day of Atonement.

A friend told me this morning, after I had shared a particularly salacious Joke,

that he was “headed to Temple in about ten minutes and I can atone for YOU!”

My response: “OHHHHHH, if you’re willing to take that on, you’re gonna’ be there a LOT Longer than Ten Minutes!!!”

 

I Love the Idea though.

Atonement.

Pause,

Take Inventory,

Ask Forgiveness for anything we’ve done wrong,

Any Lower Self Moments,

Any Unenlightened Behaviors…

It might be an unpopular idea in this age of Selfies and Self-Importance.

But Atonement,

Forgiveness,

Forgiveness of others, as well as Ourselves..

Making Amends…

It could be the Very Reason we are here on this Earth!
It certainly makes it a Better Place!
And makes for Better Living!

 

So I did.

I prayed awhile and Asked Forgiveness, as I walked outside.

I asked GOD how I could know if He would accept my Atonement.

The Best Amends is a Living Amends, of course.

Rather then merely apologize for one thing, or make amends to one person, we choose to Live our Lives in a way that No Longer includes that behavior for which we are Atoning, or that adapts a New Behavior that would be the positive antidote for it.

And God responded rather quickly.

A Homeless Man walked right up to me, and asked, “Can you help me?” as he bunched together the fingertips of his left hand and put them toward his mouth in a gesture to indicate “Eating” or “Hungry.”

I shrugged  and replied, “Sorry,” as I walked on by.

Almost Immediately, that didn’t feel right.

When you’re in the middle of talking to GOD, it’s Good to pay attention.

I find He is pretty Good about responding,

not with a Lightning Bolt and a Booming Voice from the Sky,

but in ways that require our participation.

So I turned around, went back after the Man, and called to him, “I can buy you a sandwich.”

He pointed to an Italian Deli, asking if that would be OK.

I agreed, and he was Ecstatic.

“HAM AND CHEESE!” he proclaimed in a voice a little too loud.

I said, “Sure! Whatever you want.”

“I WANT HAM AND CHEESE AND NOTHING ON IT! JUST PLAIN! NOTHING ON IT!”

We went into the Deli together and there was a Line, which meant that I would get to spend some time with the man, as he repeated over and over again in a Way Too Loud voice of childlike enthusiasm, “HAM AND CHEESE! JUST PLAIN!” eventually adding, “SWISS CHEESE! HAM AND SWISS! NOTHING ON IT!”

Then,“A HERO!” and “CAN I HAVE A BOTTLE OF SODA TOO? A BIG BOTTLE?”

I agreed to all.

He smelled like Alcohol and Staleness. He was very Dirty, and he kept touching me with a pat on the arm or taking my hand with his hand, his fingertips black with dirt.

We stood in line awhile and he continued talking in his Way Too Loud voice (My Partner occasionally accuses me of the same thing when we are on line in a store), reflecting about,

“WHEN I HAD MONEY, THINGS WERE CHEAP! NOW I HAVE NO MONEY AND THINGS ARE EXPENSIVE. PIZZA USED TO BE 15 CENTS! I REMEMBER WHEN SUBWAY TOKENS WERE TEN CENTS AND THEY WERE SMALL!”

An Elderly Woman chimed in, elatedly, “I remember that! I remember those small tokens!” She looked at me and asked, “Do you remember the Token Holders? You could fit like 20 in there and carry them around that way?”

I remembered all of these things.

Homeless Man, NYC

Homeless Person, NYC

He told me he had met JOHN LENNON in Central Park many years ago and JOHN had played “Imagine” on his Guitar for him.

He told me that NIXON caused all the Damage. “NIXON MADE A PENNY A NICKEL, A NICKEL A DIME, A DIME A QUARTER, A QUARTER A FIFTY CENT PIECE, AND A FIFTY CENT PIECE A DOLLAR!”

We agreed that JOHN LENNON would have likely made a Better President than NIXON.

 

His enormous Ham and Cheese Hero Sandwich, and Large Bottle of Pepsi cost me $9.74.

He asked my name. I told him. He told me his name was JIMMY.

I said, “GoodBye,” and “It was very nice meeting you, JIMMY,” and I wished him well.

As I walked out of the Store, and I confess my relief, as he was Very Loud in his excitement, Very Dirty, and Touching me too much for my comfort, he called out in a Louder Version of his Very Loud Speaking Voice, “ARNOLD!”

I turned.

“YOU ARE GOING TO GO TO HEAVEN!”

He held up the Bag.

“THIS SANDWICH! — THAT’S ALL IT TOOK!”

He pointed his finger upward lifting his arm, “IT’S YOUR TICKET TO THE SKY!”

I smiled.

“Thanx, JIMMY! But not too soon, OK?”

His eyes Glistened. He smiled at me, a Gleaming Smile, especially considering his Two front Lower Teeth were missing.

Homeless Person, NYC

Homeless Person, NYC

A few hours Later, I was at Grand Central Station, rushing up to MOM’s.

There was another Homeless Man in a Fake Fur Coat and Threadbare Shoes, dragging a Very Large Black Hefty Bag with him through the Market.

He was walking slowly and there was no way to get past him.

Finally I did, and began to rush toward my train.

Then it occurred to me that GOD Might not be done with me yet.

Sigh.

I turned back and saw he was on the escalator.

I followed him downstairs, then called to him, “Sir? Are you Hungry?”

He appeared to be in worse condition than JIMMY.

He didn’t hear me.

I thought maybe I was off the hook here and could just leave.

Then I remembered that that’s not the Next Right Thing.

We must Always Do the Next Right Thing.

The Next Right Thing in this case would be to Try Again.

So I called to him again.

This time he turned.

“Are you hungry? May I buy you some Food?”

He nodded.

IMG_3273 - Version 2We were right near the ZARO’s Hot Dog stand.

I asked him if this was good or if he’d prefer a sandwich or something else?

He shook his head, “No. This would be Very Good!”

He looked at the Hot Dogs on Display in the Case with eyes like a child looking in a Toy Shop Window a week before Christmas, and pointed toward the Kentucky Dog

“Is that Bacon?” he asked, mouth watering.

The woman asked, “Bacon and Cheddar Dog?”

He looked at me.

I nodded, “Is that what you want?”

He nodded back, sheepishly.

I told the woman, “Yes!”

“Two?” she asked me, indicating the two of us standing before her.

“No. Just One, Please.” I told her.

It occurs to me now that Maybe I missed something there — an Opportunity of sorts.

As I paid for the Very Overpriced HotDog ($6.83) (Of course, I remember when subway tokens were ten cents!), he told me, “I don’t have any money. My V.A. Check doesn’t come ‘til the first of the month.”

That broke my heart, of course, as I wondered, “Is this the way we take care of our Military Veterans who take care of us?”

I bid him “Farewell!” and headed to MOM’s.

None of these Pictures are the Men I met today... But maybe one of these people need your Help...

None of these Pictures are the Men I met today… But maybe one of these people needs your Help…

I have always held a Question in My Heart:

“What if Every Homeless Person you encounter is actually an Angel in Disguise giving you the Gift of an Opportunity to Help?”

Angels in Disguise, with a Gift for us?

Angels in Disguise, with a Gift for us?

 

So, on this Very Sacred Jewish Celebration,

It seems I celebrated by feeding Ham and Bacon to Homeless People. 🙂

It wasn’t what I planned when I got up this morning…

But sometimes, when you Pray,

When You Open up to Higher Consciousness,

Your Day can take unexpected Delightful and Serendipitous Turns.

 

I am So Grateful for these Two Men I met.

And I feel Good about this Holiday I have always Loved.

LISA's Most Excellent Matzoh Ball Soup

LISA’s Most Excellent Matzoh Ball Soup

The Main Course, Food By LISA

The Main Course, Food By LISA

Dessert

Dessert, from a Bakery by LISA’s House

 

 

Happy YOM KIPPUR!
Happy DAY of ATONEMENT!

Blessing of the Candles

Blessing of the Candles

Blessing of the Wine

Blessing of the Wine

Blessing of the Bread

Blessing of the Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

And L’Shonah Tova Tikatevu!

In Memory of Mommy Robbins

In Memory of Mommy Robbins

# # #

Addendum: BARBARA COLTON wrote to tell me:

“Strictly speaking, the Hebrew (not Yiddish phrase, L’Shana Tova u’Metuka means “Have a good & sweet year.” And (the Hebrew phrase) G’mar chatima tova means “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.” Unfortunately, I missed most of Yom Kippur because I’m home in bed… So I’ve been glued to the Pope, who I really like. What a mentsch! ”

What a Truly FABULOUS Woman!

# # #

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5 Comments

  1. Rose Ann Sausto Harrigan

     /  September 24, 2015

    Oh thank you so much for making me cry this morning. No, I mean this sincerely. I have days when I feel like the world is going to Hades in a hand basket (never understood this phrase; still it sounds fitting) and I think everyone is only interested in furthering their own ends (another fitting but vague colloquialism). Then I read about how you atoned by feeding the hungry and my faith in humanity is restored. But to be fair, I already had faith in you, and in others who hail from The Bronx and attended a certain high school which taught us certain values, some of which I later rejected, but the important ones remain. Our American-Italian culture helps as well; when in doubt we feed. Some say Love is the universal language but I believe it shares the distinction with Food. For it is necessary to both feed the body and the soul; Love and Food do this best. When we fill the heart with love and the belly with nourishment, we satisfy the mind and create good thoughts. So thank you for making me cry those tears of relief. To be reminded that there are still many good souls like you out there has given me a little more hope today. I give to homeless persons as well, but the transaction is from my wallet to their hands. I confess I have never taken the time to take one of them to a deli or a hot dog concession and let them order a meal. I have a very big-hearted husband who buys food, coats, shoes, socks, and gives them away to homeless people regularly. Another confession – the habit sometimes chafes me – not because I don’t think it is a wonderful thing to do, but because I wish he would treat himself as generously. Your story reminds me that he does it so that he can be nourished in his soul, and thus he is being good to himself. Blessings to you my friend. Sunrise, sunset, quickly fly the days…

    Reply
    • Ah. Wonderful ROSE ANN! How BLESSED We Are! I LOVE Your Husband and I haven’t even met him! I have learned that it doesn’t matter how much money I give a Homeless Person — it can be just a small amount if that’s all I have — it is the Eye Contact and treating them with the Respect accorded to any Human Being that is the Valuable Gift they need. I LOVE all You are Doing to make the World a Better Home for us All! XXOO

      Reply
  2. My heart is warmed by your words, Arnold. Thank you for the shining humanity you showed.

    Reply
    • Dear Bright Shining CATHRYN, YOU are one of the GREAT Humanity-Shiners! We All So Appreciate Your Bright Shining Supportive Nature and Great Participation in our Lives and in Our World! XXOO

      Reply
  3. What a feel good post! Now I feel better. And by the way you ARE going to Heaven. In fact, I do believe that you are in heaven right now!
    Loving you from here, Arnold.
    Denise

    Reply

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