DAY 718: Sometimes The Stories Find You

June 18, 2014
By bethmordecai
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DAY 718: Sometimes The Stories Find You

Dear Hevreh,

Last week I was sitting at a table in the Menlo Park Mall for my weekly open “Ask the Rabbi” when I received a phone call from John*, a local resident who has come to me in the past for help with homelessness. Here is a not-so-exact version of our conversation:

Me: “Hi, John”

John: “Rabbi, are you at the mall?”

Me (a little surprised): “Um, yea.”

John: “In the food court?”

Me: “Yes”

John: “Where? I don’t see you?”

Me (turning around and seeing him): “Look behind you.”

It turns out that John and some of his friends his saw the advertisement for “Ask the Rabbi” in the local paper and thought that instead of only coming to my door to ask for help in a crisis, why not sit down with a cup of coffee to share their stories of how homelessness has affected them. That’s exactly the purpose of these open “Ask the Rabbi” opportunities, to make myself available to hear the questions, the teachings, and the stories that people want to share but may not normally have a chance to do so. That’s why “Ask the Rabbi” is open, so that the stories can find me.

And their stories were powerful.

I listened to each one and not only heard the heartbreak behind their stories, but the desire for self-sufficiency, integrity, and dignity that is challenged by the reality of homelessness. I heard in these stories the echoes of my own story, how grateful I am to live in a warm and comfortable home. I heard in these stories the command of Jewish tradition to care for those in need till they can be independent (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah 10:7-14). But most of all, I heard in these stories the need to hear more of them.

If you are interested, I am planning on hearing more stories on homelessness during tomorrow’s “Ask the Rabbi” open table at the mall at 12 pm. Please come join me and let these powerful stories find you.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks

*I changed the name of the individual who came to speak with me to protect his privacy*

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