Leo’s Z to A Challenge: Homeless Man

A homeless man in Paris

Image via Wikipedia

This is submitted to Leonnyes Z to A Challenge:

The anecdote related in this poem is derived from a story related by Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach. I read it in “The Oracle of Kabbalah” by Richard Seidman. This book deals with the hidden meaning underlying the Hebrew Aleph Beit.



“H” is for Homeless Man

Walking down the road I saw a man in tattered clothes.
I couldn’t help but wonder what had led to his defeat.
Tell me, if you would, about this life that you have chosen,
or did it choose you to live like this, upon the street?

I handed him a buck or two and said, “Here, take a seat.”
It was a rusted old park bench on which we hunkered in to meet.
You’re curious, my boy, he said, why do you want to know?
I want to understand you, sir, to see what makes you so.

That money that I gave to you, I know you’ll give to others.
I wonder, how do you survive while giving to your brothers?
A smile broke across the wrinkled landscape of his face,
the pain I’d seen inside his eyes seemed suddenly erased.

You may not really want to hear the story I will tell,
it happened many years ago in a place not far from hell.
The name you’ve heard—‘twas Auschwitz, a camp they took us Jews
the horrors that surrounded me tempted me to choose

to take my own life ere they could subject me to a death
without the grace of dignity. I was so eager to go.
But then some words came tumbling from the darkness of my mind
Words spoken by a holy man I heard in gone by.

The teacher’s voice was strong, it traveled straight into the core
of all I understand of God, of what we’re living for.
Do you know how much good can be done in Auschwitz late at night?
How hope can be a gift to those who tremble in their fright?

And what I learned back then—the truths that saved me from despair—
I carry them within my soul, there’s so much need to care.
So I refuse to see my life as a symbol of defeat.
Do you know how much good, my son, awaits me in that street?

The old man stood and shook my hand and left me with his smile
I sat, transfixed, upon that bench for quite a while.
Now I withhold my judgment when I see a homeless guy
and wonder still at wealth within that money cannot buy.


8 thoughts on “Leo’s Z to A Challenge: Homeless Man

  1. Rumya says:

    What an interesting read!! Thank you for sharing that Victoria!! 🙂


  2. Heart says:

    “Do you know how much good, my son, awaits me in that street?” He probably met more kind people that way that I do in a lifetime..
    Sensitive and a great moral, Victoria!
    Wanted to stop by to wish you and your family a wonderful Holiday season 🙂


  3. a powerful poem, with a great anecdote… well written Victoria!


  4. Tweety says:

    Wow…encore victoria…

    it kept me transfixed through out the poem…loved the last line especially…all the wealth the money couldn’t buy…just simple fabulous..


  5. Nanka says:

    Such a great anecdote and the stories from Auschwitz never cease. What a lesson learnt , and left me gaping and transfixed too!!


  6. Vibhuti B says:

    This anecdote surely has me transfixed too. Victoria what a thought applied to a simple prompt. Thanks for sharing from your immense knowledge and experiences..:)


  7. souldipper says:

    What a poem, Victoria. What a tremendous depiction of a precious lesson.

    Are you learning the mysteries of the Kabbalah? I was on a Webinar to learn about those that are being revealed. However, the ones I was able to listen to dealt more with setting the base of Judism.


  8. Jingle says:

    powerful take…
    fabulous writing….


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