"You Who Have Fed the Hungry"
As a blacksmith,
Menachem did well for
himself; and as a golem,
Yossele required no food.
Yet they felt sympathy for
the poor who could not work
and therefore had no food.
Menachem worried most
about the children, while Yossele
fretted over people who had
lost their feet or legs.
So even though they
were not poor themselves,
they did their best to look out
for those who were.
Yossele gathered scraps
of fabric which could be used
to make pillows or quilts, and
collected stout branches to be
smoothed into crutches.
Menachem always stocked
some cheap food that kept well,
and when they stopped for a while
in a poor village or neighborhood,
he would put his biggest pot to boil
and make up a big batch of osh sovo,
beans and rice sweetened with dried fruit.
He knew how hard it was to keep kosher
even on a comfortable living like his;
for the poor it was all but impossible.
They worked while the food cooked,
mending what people brought to them,
selling replacements for what could not
be mended, and even making things
to order for those who could afford it.
At the end of the day, Yossele
handed out his woodworking and
rag crafts to whomever needed them.
Sometimes people stared at
his strange iron feet and limping gait,
but the golem did not let that bother him.
Menachem served the food,
dishing it out into traveling plates
that he kept in a stack inside his wagon
for just such occasions as this.
He sold a great many plates that way.
At the very tail of the line, there came
an old man who said simply, “This
is the gate of Adonai, enter into it,
you who have fed the hungry.”
Menachem thanked him, and
then dished up his own supper
and went to sit with Yossele.
The golem wrapped the last rug
around both of them as they sat
watching the fire burn down and
gave thanks for what they had.
* * *
When you are asked in the world to come, “What was your work?” and you answer, “I fed the hungry,” you will be told, “This is the gate of Adonai, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry.”
-- Midrash Psalms 118:17
Tzedakah or charity is the mitzvah of providing food, clothing, and shelter for the less fortunate.
Poorskills include many crafts made from available materials. Rags can be made into pillows, quilts, or rugs. Wood forms walking sticks or crutches.
Keeping kosher while poor poses a great challenge. A kosher household spends double the usual amount on food. Here are some tips on frugal kosher practices.
Enjoy a recipe for Osh Sovo. Beans and rice have recently been ruled kosher for Pesach / Passover.
A traveling plate or camping plate is really more like a wide shallow bowl, capable of holding either dry or wet foods. These are easily stacked for serving large groups of people.
Gratitude is a virtue of appreciation for what one has. There are many ways to practice and express thankfulness.