I know a young lady who, on a casual stroll in Miami, was approached by a supposedly frum Jewish man who implored her to help him fund an airline ticket to Israel since he’d been robbed of all his cash and credit cards and needed desperately to get back “home.” He seemed so genuinely stressed out that the only thing to save this woman from laying out hundreds of dollars was her true inability to do so.
Oftentimes, these slick scammers hang around hotels and hospitals waiting to spot their next victim. And their acting could land them an academy award (years of practice, no doubt). Whether the fraudsters are impersonators or authentically Jewish, they sure seem to know that the Jewish heart cannot endure the tzar of a fellow Jew, particularly on erev Shabbos.
Dispensing advice is usually easier than heeding it… so how does one fight the urge to part with his/her money when faced with a conniving thief feigning helplessness? I posed the question to a close acquaintance who happened to have encountered just such an incident the other day in a hospital corridor where he had gone to visit a sick friend.
When the “destitute” man told him he needed a loan because he had left his jacket with all his money behind in a cab, my acquaintance referred him to the hospital rabbi/chaplain. The man claimed he’d already done that unsuccessfully, to which my better half (yeah, the seasoned one…and ‘better’ as in less naïve) shrugged his shoulders, patted his pockets and said, “Sorry… am not in the habit of carrying cash with me…” as he walked away.
Readers who have had the misfortune of being victimized should take a cue from our writer above and consider their experience a valuable lesson in life — as well as to bear in mind that up in Shamayim there is a cheshbon; nothing happens for naught.