Mary Poppins: Bert the Mensch

Want to know what it means to be a man? Want to truly see someone who embraces the life of a Pop Chassid and a mensch at every moment?

You need look no further than Bert (and all his chimney sweep pals).

Living on the street, scraping a living off the ground he walks on, having to work for every single penny he earns. Yet at each moment, living life high, loving every bit of work he does.

And at the same time, not being defined by his work. Working to live, not living to work. It is his entire life that is a piece of art, not just the drawings he does on the sidewalk.

The exact opposite of Mr. Banks, who defines his entire existence by his job.

Bert, he doesn’t let tradition way him down. He is not against tradition, but he does not believe in tradition for the sake of tradition, he does not believe that something is sacred just because that is how it is always how it has been.

Remember the poor fox, running for its life? He saved it, without any concern for his own safety.

But to Mr. Banks, as he says himself, “It’s tradition!”

To Bert, money is a means to an end, not the end itself. When he is confronted by more important things, like poor children running away from their father, he is willing to upset even the “Lord Mayor” to help take care of them.

But want to know the most beautiful, the most important thing that makes Bert a Pop Chassid, and the true archetype of what it means to be a man? A mensch?

All you need to do is see him when he is up on the chimney tops. When he is living his true life.

Bert can do the dirtiest most disgusting job, a job filled with soot, dirt, and mean bosses. He can clean out chimneys, and yet somehow, still be dancing, singing. Even claiming that, “A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be.”

What is he thinking? How could anyone in his position say that? How can someone cleaning up dirt for a living claim that he is as lucky as lucky can be?

Because to Bert, when he cleans a chimney, his mind isn’t in the dirt. It’s not caught up in the soot. He’s on the rooftops. He’s above the dirt, he’s up there, singing with his fellow chimney sweeps at the top of his lungs, dancing on the edge of a fence.

Bert can live in the soot, but exist on the rooftops.

That is what it means to be a mensch. That is what it means to be a Chassid. To be aware that the world is hard, that sometimes you have to put yourself on the line, have to beg for toppins. But, in the end, if you’re existing on the higher plane, on G-d’s plane, then you’ll do it with a smile on your face, because you see what you are really doing. What you are really living for.

To Mr. Banks, life was a life where he had to “grind, grind, grind at that grindstone.” A life where when his, “little tikes are crying, you haven’t time to dry their eyes”. Because when the grind is all there is, well, there’s no space for the little tikes.

But when you realize what the grind is all about, that it’s for the little tikes… well, then, maybe you’ll get a little spirit of Bert in you, you’ll mend a kite, and go flying.

And then you’ll be like the chimney sweeps. Down on the ground, but up in the sky.







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