the physical life of another



“Spiritual life is superior to physical life. But the physical life of another is an obligation of my spiritual life.”

            —-Rabbi Israel Salanter


Saint Francis

He stands there on the corner again with the sign that says he’s homeless. But today, today is different. Today he’s got a crutch and a cast on his left foot.
I wonder if he remembers when I’ve given him granola bars. I wonder why he remains homeless. But I play with my phone, hoping he won’t stop at my open car window, as I have no granola bars and I don’t hand out money on the street.
“Hey, girl, how are you today?” he asks. As I look up into his smiling face, I can’t help but tell him he’s wearing a beautiful smile for someone with a banged-up foot. His smile broadens at being seen, and he tells me he’s trying to get a couple of dollars to get some food and catch the bus back to the shelter. I make small talk about how he ended up so far from the shelter, and then the light changes so that I can drive away.
I turn the corner, feeling proud of myself for sticking to my rule about not handing out money. But my pride is short-lived because, despite the music from my earbuds, from far away and yet so near, Saint Francis scolds me: “He’s an image of Gd — feed him!!”
So tomorrow, tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I’ll bring him dinner.


This year I’m directing my tzdakah to organizations that help feed those who do not have the resources to feed themselves.  If you don’t already have a charitable cause that is dear to you, I invite you to join me by donating to a food bank in your area.
     praying a day arrives when every person has an access to nutritious food,  jen

Why Saint Francis? 

The stories I’ve read about Saint Francis and the quotes attributed to him suggest he saw holiness in every creature and person.  And, as a young man, Francis got into trouble for giving his rich father’s money to poor people.  So, when my conscience berated me for not feeding a hungry man, I immediately thought of Saint Francis. 

I understand that Francis’s motivation for helping the poor was that Francis wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, while my motivation comes from the Torah’s commands to pursue justice and to leave the corners of the fields for those without food.  

But I feel no need to quarrel about the theological specifics that motivated Francis’s behavior. Instead, I think of him as a man who tried to do Gd’s will. 

5 thoughts on “the physical life of another

  1. I am so with you on this. Handing out money is something I was taught not to do. But I have given my gloves on a cold day. And recently I asked the man what his favorite food was and then went out and bought him a gift card to that place. It feels good to help, but still I wonder how that person is going to find his or her way.

    • I can hear the emotion behind your comment, Lindsay, and I regret having to say that I don’t have a good answer for solving poverty and homelessness. I’m only certain that people can’t find their way out of poverty if they are starving. Thank you for letting me know you are with me on this issue, jen

  2. Dear friend,

    God is Shabd and the music of the spheres (the bell of the church, the gong the temples etc as symbols of the inner music) and the light (candle-light in temples, churches, Gurdawara, Mosques as symbols of the inner light) are penetrating the whole creation, shabads of the soul – there is nothing else exiting as God, while we are a drop of the Ocean Almighty

    Thank you very much, dear friend

    • Dear Didi– I am very grateful to have found your writings here on WordPress, and I look forward to reading your future posts and exploring more of what you have already posted. May the music and light of the Ocean Almighty continue to inspire you and to radiate from you, so that other drops of the Ocean might hear and see the Truth underlying our existence. Praying you find abundant blessings, jen

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