(Written two weeks ago, before Yom Kippur.)
This prompt brings to mind a different meaning of the word than I think was intended: those silver and copper pieces that roll and clink in our pockets. As I write this, we’re on the other side of Rosh Hashanah, the final marathon just a day away. I’ve spent this past week ping-ponging between great happiness, great insecurity, renewed self-awareness, frustration, gratitude, exhaustion, and boundless energy. Life, in other words, but somewhat compressed and magnified to fit within a few days of deep reckoning. I reached no conclusions, but perhaps a little more understanding of myself and my weaknesses.
One thing I observed: I rarely carry change any more. Most of the time I pay for coffee, groceries, whatever, with a debit card, which makes it easier to track my expenses. All fine and good, but I never have anything to offer those who ask for money on the street. I will admit that I’ve rarely given that money—nor considered it as requirement for being a good person—but now there’s never an option. I’ve been doing my best to respond to those requests so with a smile and an apology.
This awareness will not change my habits. I will continue to give tzedakah in other ways, and try to exceed what I think is my limit. What I have been thinking about, more and more, is how grateful I am to not need to be in the street asking for change. At times I’ve felt financially stretched, but I still always had a roof over my head. I am very, very lucky in so many ways, and must never forget that.