Another Small Act of Kindness
A couple of weeks ago, Treppenwitz related a touching vignette about how certain bakeries in Israel provide for the local poor in an unobtrusive and dignified manner. Do read the whole story there, but briefly, these considerate owners "lock" their cash registers shortly before closing, and then distribute their leftover wares, gratis, to the needy latecomers. The destitute patrons are thus granted the face-saving pretext that the store couldn't take their money, rather than having to openly concede that in fact, they had no money to give.
This Thursday night, while my daughter and I were doing the weekly food shopping - our regular daddy/daughter outing - she witnessed a similar type of event unfold. I'll tell it over as she reported it to me.
The supermarket we visited this week has a kosher deli counter; it was rather busy, as typical for a Thursday night. A disheveled, rundown-looking man approached the counter and announced: "I'd like to buy a pound of every different kind of deli. But I want to taste each one first to see if it's any good."
The deli man (is there a single English word for that?) then proceeded, patiently and methodically, to cut a slice from one slab of meat after another, passing each to his purportedly picky customer - who instantly and ravenously devoured it. This went on for several minutes, after which the customer stated: "Thanks... I think I don't really want to buy any of these. I'll look somewhere else."
It was obvious - even to my daughter's ten-year-old eyes - that the poor-looking man had neither the intention, nor the means, to purchase any deli. But it was equally clear that his stratagem was utterly transparent to the fellow behind the deli case, who nevertheless chose to play along. With the same combination of compassion and consideration as his Israeli counterparts, he allowed the unfortunate before him to obtain some much-needed nutrition under the veneer of a legitimate transaction, without forcing him to openly plead poverty and ask for an overt handout.
I regret that I didn't get to view this heartwarming scene directly. It might have helped uplift my overall view of our people's moral status, which has been rather downbeat lately. But I am glad to have at least seen it through my daughter's eyes. And I hope that she herself was able to come away with something meaningful and lasting. Lessons like this one can never be imparted through lectures and books - or even blogs - but only experientially. For this, as in so many ways, my daughter is lucky and blessed indeed.