TheBeggarDown-and-outers have always exerted a special appeal. Perhaps it is because I grew up so poor. I lived on Seattle’s “Skid Row”—and had my shoes stolen while I slept at a mission. I hopped freight trains all over the U.S. one summer to study the homeless—and unintentionally ended up in a national TV special on the “homeless.” As a cop, I brought a ragged street bum home for Thanksgiving—who got arrested the next day as a drunk.

In Jerusalem, beggars are a different lot. Most are elderly men supplementing their meager incomes by hitting up tourists in the Old Town for change. Little stooped men wearing traditional Hassidic garb and yarmulkes on their heads, sometimes chanting softly and holding out a hand.

It hard for me to resist. I placed money in a couple of hands, until I ran out of smaller denominations. I came upon an old man who made me think of St. Francis of Assisi, or a monk at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the base of Egypt’s Mt. Sinai. I approached and placed a hand on his shoulder, squeezed, and patted his back.

“God bless you,” he responded.

There is a passage in Hassidic literature something to the effect that a beggar may be “the prophet Elijah in disguise visiting earth and the hearts of men to offer the reward of eternal life to those who treat him well.”

It makes one think.

Crushing The Collective: The Last Chance to Keep America Free and Self Governing, by Charles W. Sasser, continues to draw attention and comments: “Your fine book has so much history, so much thought, and was written in such an engaging way that. . .it was hard to put down. . . Thank you for your time and energy you have poured into this book. . .”

And I thank all of you for reading the book, and your comments.