A text exchange about cleaning up
by Rabbi Brian
2017 – issue 33 of 40

The 77% Weekly
Nourishing Spiritual-Religious Hunger 
40/52 weeks a year


I thank you for reading. If you know of someone who might like this, please share.
Not a subscriber yet? Sign up for free! rotb.org/archives – 💙rB

A text exchange about cleaning up.

I helped a homeless man being removed from the PDX airport by police today.

What did you do?

I caught his eye and gave him $20. Then I followed him and the two cops to listen to what they were saying.

That’s so kind.


One cop fell back. The other kept reading legal code to the man.

Like he can’t be in the airport?

I followed them to the doors of the MAX where Tim got on and was seated.
And I stood in the door because I didn’t want to miss my flight.

(He was sleeping at PDX because it has amenities.)

They were calling him out for trespassing, I think.
I asked him his name.

What was it? Tim?

I said, “This isn’t an easy time to be a dark-skinned man.”

What did he say?

He said, “Man, they ain’t real…they ain’t the police…they don’t know….”

Do you think it really was a race thing?

It’s so sad.

He looked in his hands where the $20 was.
“But this helps, man. Thanks a lot.”

That’s awesome rabbi-friend.
You walk the walk.

“I wish I knew what to do…”
“This helps, man. This helps a lot.”

I don’t think we know what to do in these situations.

It’s never enough, though. It’s a couple of meals. But what you did is infinitely better than nothing. Which is what most of us do. Proud of you.

Because he is black? Kinda. Yeah. It wouldn’t have been the same if I had been sleeping at the airport.

Why don’t we?

You think you, being white, wouldn’t have been escorted away?

We don’t because it’s easier to not get involved

I would like to think it’s because we don’t think we know how to, because we aren’t comfortable doing it….

And delude ourselves that someone else will take care of them.

I get away with lots.
That’s why I wear a hat.
Solidarity with those who can’t hide their differences.

Really? That’s why? So interesting.
I thought it was more about piety.
But that’s a way better reason


That’s exactly what I said.
Just in different words.

I <3 you!

I thank you. I love you too.

If you like some quotes to go along with the above.

Rabbi Tarfon:
You are not obligated to complete the (cleaning up) work.
Nor are you free to desist from doing your part.
(Pirkei Avot 2:21) 

Rabbi Brian:
Clean up (some of) the mess.
Even if you didn’t make it. 
Even if you don’t get public recognition for doing so.
Even if it doesn’t look like you will ever finish.
Go, do it anyhow.

Rabbi Brian




With love,

Rabbi Brian



#rabbi_brian_af – instagram



Few problems are solved by an email your in-box.

This is an exception.

40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

Wonderful! You did it. Look for an email soon! (Unless you want to work on your patience, of course.)