Daf Yomi Kesubos 102
Recently I met the man who lives in the box. It’s very sad. We have a sandbox on our shul property used to store the ice-melt for the parking lot in the winter. But it’s quite deep and it’s never quite full of sand and so homeless people have been known to take shelter in the box.
I had heard about them but never actually met them until the other week when I went to the shul late at night to get something from my office and I saw some people gathered by the shed. I pulled my car over to ask them what they were doing on our property. Lo and behold, it was a couple of teens on bikes giving sandwiches to this poor fellow.
If there was someone choking another person in the marketplace over a debt he owed, and his friend came over and said, ‘Leave him alone, I’ll pay the money,’ he is exempt from payment, because he did not originally lend the money with the guarantor.
Very often we see people ‘choking in the marketplace.’ They’re debt-ridden or undergoing family conflicts and issues and we choose not to get involved. We don’t want to take sides, we don’t want to appear nosey, we’re afraid of mixing into other people’s business.
Instead, we figure we’ll try to solve the problems far away from us. Maybe I can send money to Africa to feed starving people there on the other side of the world? Maybe I can take a stand on the ozone layer and global warming if the problems on earth are too difficult for me to deal with!
Meanwhile your neighbour is crying out to you for help. It might be a man in a box who lives nearby. It might be the teenage son of a single mom who needs life counseling and a father-figure in his life. It might be a couple that are having marital issues that nobody else wants to get involved with, for fear of taking sides and mixing in where they haven’t been asked.
Stop worrying about how you’re going to look. Just save the person from choking and the Talmud says you will be exempt. You’re not anyone’s personal guarantor, but you can lend a hand and help them start breathing again.
We certainly need to worry about the kids in Africa and the ozone layer. But first and foremost, you need to worry about the problems close to home. The Almighty has put these issues in front of your face so that you can help resolve them. May you always remember that charity begins at home and that you are best equipped to deal with the problems in your closest vicinity!