Joe The Butler

By Danny Seigel

Posted on 16th December 2009


Years ago in one of my books, I re-told a story I had read in the newspaper.  It was about a certain Joe Lejman who used to dress up as a butler and serve in a local shelter for victims of domestic violence.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.  The article I had read was a short blurb, so there was only one incident-moment that the reporter chose to relate.  I had hoped for more, but, in retrospect, and with years to reflect, I understand the reporter’s wisdom.  The incident was The Incident, the one that would teach us almost everything we needed to know about Joe Lejman and his marvelous Mitzvah.

As it happened, one day, Joe had finished serving a meal for the residents, then poured the coffee.  He poured for one woman, and then lit her cigarette for her.  She began to cry.  She cried because she told Joe that this was the first time she could remember that anyone had done something nice for her.

Now, years after reading that story, my mind is wandering and I am beginning to wonder —

Is it possible that this woman regained every shred of her lost self-respect because of Joe Lejman’s single act of unadulterated caring and radiant goodness?  It’s possible.

Did she then tell the social workers she had emerged from despair, regained her energy, and wanted to go job hunting the next day?  She might have.

Did she get a job, give the appropriate portion of her first and every subsequent paycheck to Tzedakah, do homework with her kids at night, and help get them through high school and into college?  Perhaps.

Did the children then go to college, graduate, get jobs, give the appropriate percentage of their first and every subsequent paychecks to Tzedakah, and raise their families to do the same?  Maybe they did.

Were the other women in that shelter so inspired by what she did that they did the same, start life all over again because of Joe Lejman?  Maybe they did, too

How many more heartbeats were added to the world’s total?  Billions upon billions.

How far out into the entire population of Planet Earth did the concentric circles reach because Joe Lejman, one man, got this crazy idea to be a butler in a shelter for women, who, by all reasonable possibility, should have sunk into lifelong oblivion?

Grand total, how much did Joe spend on a butler’s outfit?

You save one life, you save the world.


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