Everyday as we go about our business, we pass countless people that could use our help. Do we stop to help them? Or even just throw them a smile to brighten up their day? Chances are we don’t and this is a big problem. It says something about who we are and how we look at the people around us. The Torah instructs us, “לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ – Do not stand idly by your brother’s blood”. This means that when we see a human being who is in need, we are not permitted to ‘look the other way’. This is not simply an instruction of action, rather, as so often we find in the instructions of the Torah, it is an instruction meant to change who we are and how we look at the world.
We, as Jews, are supposed to emulate God. We know that God is a giver, He gives to us and doesn’t take anything from us. He is the paradigm of a giver. Obviously, we are not perfect beings and most of cannot survive by just giving and never taking, however this is something to strive for. What does it mean to be a giver? When you are confronted with a situation or a person, do you look at it as an opportunity to give, to be like God, or do you look at it as an opportunity to take. When you encounter a homeless person, what is your gut-reaction? If you are working on becoming a giver, this is an amazing opportunity! This person has nothing to give and has plenty of room to allow you to give! But, if you are a taker, you look at the situation with dread, this person has nothing to give you and is going to try and take from you.
It is all a matter of perspective.
We are charged with being givers, like God, not standing idly by when we see a situation which lends itself to an opportunity to giving.
Today’s Jewish mission is to make a ‘Car(e) Package’. I always keep a few backpacks in my car with some supplies that I can give to homeless people when I encounter them during my day. This way, each time I see a person in need I immediately get excited at this opportunity to give to someone else and emulate God. Here are some suggestions to help you create your own:
- Non-perishable food (like granola bars or other packaged items)
- A hat
- Antiseptic wipes
- Soap (camping soap is a good idea)
- Tampons or pads (I keep a pink bag in my car for the ladies)
- Emergency supplies or first-aid supplies
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
Call your local homeless shelter for ideas of how you can help, many of these items can be purchased at 99¢ Store or something similar.
As always, be smart, homeless people (like all people) can sometimes be dangerous, don’t come in contact with them without the proper supervision or circumstances. If helping the homeless isn’t your thing, or you don’t feel it is safe to do so, find another way to be a giver today!