A Poem from Rabbi Diane Elliot’s Omer Practice 

The young man sits
cross-legged on a
curb in downtown Berkeley.
He munches coleslaw
from a deli container,
a plastic offering cup
of coins before him
on the sidewalk.
“Can you spare any
change?” he asks
softly as we
stroll by, discussing
the folk music
we just heard
after a raucous pizza
meal with family
and friends. We
walk past him, I
stop, fumble in
my purse, draw
a dollar bill
from my wallet,
turn back, place
it in the cup.
“Thank you,”
he says, “I
was hungry, this
is the first
I’ve eaten today.”
I murmur something—
“glad you’re eating
now”— move on
quickly. Tears rise
in my throat.
Why should I
weep? He’s the
hungry one, sitting
on Shattuck Avenue,
eating a cold supper
with a plastic
fork. Can such
a tiny exchange,
small act, open
the great door
of compassion? Can
we live there,
all together,
in love with
the world—all
its variety, and
painful beauty? A
person can see
but still not touch,
touch but still not
know. Help us
serve great heart
together, in all
our ways, in
all our moments.

Hod sheh’b’tiferet
Humility/splendor within

From Rabbi Diane Elliot’s This Is the Day, Ha-Yom Yom, which contains 49 poems altogether, one for each day of the seven weeks of Omer counting.