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The Mitzvah Diaries: Sleeping on a NY Subway

For our first volume of Mitzvah Diaries, dedicated to identifying those selfless people who perpetuate the act of the good deed, Shalom Life takes a look at a kind man on a New York subway

By: Daniel Koren
Published: November 5th, 2013 in News » World
The two men on a New York subway

Welcome to Mitzvah Diaries, where we at Shalom Life scour the depths of the web to identify those in our community who are committed to one of the oldest notions in Jewish tradition: the mitzvah.

In an age where stories shared through the media often focus on the negative, on the cruel, criminal and chaotic, Mitzvah Diaries will highlight Jews and non-Jews alike who go that extra mile to perform good deeds, and good acts, to help out friends and strangers, subsequently strengthening the fabric of our society.

A mitzvah doesn't doesn't have to be life-changing or monumental; it can be a small act of kindness that simply reaffirms, despite our busy schedules and hedonistic lifestyles, that humanity still exists, and selfless deeds are not as rare as you'd think they are.

For our first volume, we felt obliged to share a wonderful story we found via Reddit, where a user posted the following picture of two men on a New York subway, accompanied by a glowing description:


Heading home on the Q train yesterday when this young African American guy nods off on the shoulder of a Jewish man. The man doesn't move a muscle, just lets him stay there. After a minute, I asked the man if he wanted me to wake the kid up, but he shook his head and responded, 'He must have had a long day, let him sleep. We've all been there, right?'

He was still sleeping soundly when I got off the train 20 minutes later.

It was a small gesture, but a kind one. I love New Yorkers!

Though some would decree this Jewish man's act of kindness as unimportant in the grand scheme of things, his thoughtfulness is evocative of why the mitzvah holds much stake in today's society, and why 'paying it forward' is a wonderful and efficient way of maintaing our humanity.

This man was not seeking a reward, nor was he concerned with how the situation would benefit him; rather, he seemed interested only in the well-being of this stranger sitting beside him.

His act of kindness, despite how 'small' it may be, is overwhelming in that it confirms many of us do care, and we're not all so busy with our own lives to do a nice deed for someone you've never met before.

After Charidy posted this story on their Facebook page, a man named Garvey Dutes commented, saying: "This is me, I was not on drugs. I came from a long day of college, very tired and I nodded off on this random guy. I actually remember falling asleep, haha thank you and god bless to that man who let me sleep."

I don't know about you, but the next time a stranger falls asleep on my shoulder on the subway, I'll sure be sharing this man's sentiments, and take a moment to appreciate a stranger's situation.

After all, we've all been there, right?

Related articles: New York, Subway, Jewish News, Mitzvah Diaries, Reddit
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