Dreaming of Moshiach

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mud of the Jew

Once, when Rabbi Israel of Rizhin, zs'l,was travelling, he came to a certain town where he stayed in the house of a very wealthy person. The rooms of this wealthy person were extremely well- appointed. In particular, the floor was polished and beautifully constructed.

When the news spread throughout the town that the Rizhiner had come, men, women and children gathered from all corners of the town. This great crowd brought a great deal of mud into the house, [+/-] show/hide text
and the wealthy man was very angry at them.

When the Rizhiner heard this, he called the wealthy man and told him, "I shall tell you a wondrous story. But hear me well.

"This is the story:

"Once there was a Jew who lived in a village. He was very crushed and poor, God have mercy. This Jew had six children and an old mother and father who lived with him, as well as his wife.

"It was close to Pesach time, and this poor person didn't have anything. In particular, he needed matzos for all of Pesach. The Jew was very upset, for all his attempts had brought him nothing, and he had absolutely no idea how to earn some gold coins.

"As Pesach came closer, he had the idea of trying again to travel into town, where perhaps Hashem would have mercy on him and give him some business to earn some gold coins. And so he went to the town, and he had some good fortune and earned six gold coins. And as can be well-understood, the joy of this Jew was beyond imagination. The Jew went and bought flour, and he brought the flour to the baker. The baker told him to wait for him to first bake the matzos for the wealthy men. The poor man waited for them. The baking of their matzos lasted until nightfall; and only then did the baker take his flour and bake his matzos.

"Now the poor man didn't know what to do. He was very afraid to go home with the matzos, because the road was treacherous with pits of water and mud, and he feared that he might fall into one of the holes. But the idea of remaining in the town until morning was very hard for him, because he knew that his family was hungry and in the dark, because they didn't even have a candle. Finally, he decided to return home. And so he trusted in Hashem and travelled homewards.

"On the way, the wagon fell into a pit of water and mud. The Jew toiled by the sweat of his brow for a very long time to upright the wagon and the horse, but in vain. And he cried a great deal in the bitterness of his soul.

"Meanwhile, a wealthy person was passing by with his servant, not far from where the Jew had fallen. When the wealthy man heard a man crying out, he sent his servant to investigate. The servant returned, saying that a Jew had been cast into the mud with his horse and wagon. The wealthy man hurried to the muddy pit and commanded his servant to extricate the poor man and this wagon from the filth. And so he did.

"When the wealthy man saw that the poor man's soul had almost expired from the cold and weariness, he quickly gave him vodka and cake and put him on the wagon. Then he accompanied the poor man home, fearing that he might again fall into one of the many holes on that road.

"When the wealthy man came to the poor man's house and saw the darkness and the terrible poverty, he was filled with compassion. He opened his purse and gave the poor man 600 red coins, telling him, "First of all, celebrate Pesach generously. And then build yourself a decent house with the rest of the money.'

"After this, the wealthy man returned to his home.'

At this point, the Rizhiner said again, "Hear me well.' And then he continued.

"After this, not many days passed, and the wealthy man passed away. As is usual, he was brought before the heavenly court. They began to ask him, "Did you engage in business honestly?' But before he could answer the first question, he was surrounded on every side by destructive angels. One cried out, "I was created from such and such a sin,' and another cried out, "I was created from such and such a sin.' And there were thousands of them.

"And as can be understood, he was sentenced to Gehinnom.

"But before the decree was sealed, an angel appeared before the heavenly court and cried out, "How is it possible to sentence him to Gehinnom? This man saved the lives of ten Jews. And the Torah states that whoever maintains one Jewish soul is considered as though he had maintained an entire world.'

"The heavenly court replied, "So defend him, by all means.' The defending angel said, "Take the sins and put them on one side of a scale, and place the mitzvah on the other side of the scale.' The heavenly court did so, and found that the side with the sins outweighed the mitzvah by a great deal.

"The defending angel went and brought the poor man, his wife, their children and his father and mother, and placed them on the side of the scale of the mitzvah. But still, they did not outweigh the sins. When the defending angel saw this, he went and gathered all the mud and filth into which the Jew had fallen, together with the wagon and the horse. And he placed them on the scale on the side of the mitzvah. Then this mitzvah outweighed the sins.'

When the Rizhiner concluded the story, he said to the wealthy man with whom he was staying, "Do you hear, my son? Sometimes even the mud of a Jew saves one from the judgment of Gehinnom. Therefore, for the sake of G-d, do not despise the mud of Jews.'




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו