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Recognized Social Butterfly



During the past few months, I have seen a middle-aged woman who mumbles and weeps as she slowly walks around my Waikiki neighborhood. At one point, I saw her in a nearby driveway a block away from my condo.  She was either being constrained or comforted by a Jewish man to whom I had occasionally said a hearty shalom. Then it dawned on me: perhaps the lady is also Jewish, and her trance-like behavior is actually a type of davening, fitfully praying in Hebrew as she ambles about in her religious devotion.

Yesterday just as I began my walk, I saw her inching towards me. Without thinking, I blurted out “shalom” to her: Clearly and emphatically, she responded with shalom as well. Ah hah, a breakthrough! Perhaps she recognized me as a fellow Jew. Or perhaps she was just mimicking me. 

A few minutes later, she was once more heading in my direction, looking downtrodden, slightly sobbing, and murmuring as usual.  But much to my amazement as she passed by, she breathlessly asked me “Are you a spirit?” Without thinking, I said “No, I am flesh.” My comment didn’t seem to affect her in any way. She just continued her patented routine.

If I see this woman again, I am not sure if I should have any more contact with her. It might be a mitzvah to try to communicate with her. Or it might be unwise to distract her from whatever mysterious and possibly mystical mission she is pursuing.

Ah, humanity!

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