Page 90 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

Basic HTML Version

82
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
ho liday an d th e Sabba th p rop e r ly . Very taken by such p ious
devo tion to th e T o r a h , th e g o v e rn o r co nv e r ted to Ju d a ism .
U pon cu t t in g op en the fish, th e ta ilo r fo u n d in its belly “a
pea r l as big as two fists.” However, th e ta ilo r d id no t wish to
b en e f it from this m iracle. H e th e r e fo r e d id n o t sell th e pea r l
“an d lived happ ily eve r a f te r ,” rem a in in g a simp le ta ilo r to th e
en d o f his days.
T h e story d em o n s tra te s no t only th e ex trem e devo tion o f a
simple ta ilo r to th e m itzvah o f Shabba t, b u t also th e rew a rd
fo r h o n o r in g th e Sabba th an d Holy days. We also f ind th e idea
th a t one is no t to b en e f i t from a m iracle m a te ria lly .8 A n o th e r
idea in h e r e n t in this story is th e s ta tem en t in th e T a lm u d : “A
p e r so n ’s livelihood (fo r the year) is allo tted to h im on Rosh
H a sh an ah ex cep t fo r the e x p e n d i tu re s fo r th e Sabba th an d Holy
days an d tu ition costs fo r teach ing his ch i ld ren T o r a h .”9 W ith
re g a rd to these catego ries o f expenses , th e m o re he spend s ,
the m o re he will be rew a rd ed . T h a t is why the ta ilo r says to
the gove rno r : “I d id no t sp en d my money , b u t th a t o f th e O ne
who makes p o o r o r rich . I can t ru s t H im to rep ay m e even
th a t p a r t which I bo rrow ed fo r the u n u su a l ex p en se .”
3. THE SIMPLE JEW
T h e hasidic d o c tr in e th a t every Jew — even th e sim p lest -—
is im p o r ta n t in the eyes o f God , “as long as his h e a r t is d irec ted
tow ard h e av en ” -— namely , th a t he acts with the p r o p e r relig ious
in te n t io n 10 — find s b eau tifu l an d delicate exp ress ion in th re e
ballads:
A Perfect Account, Hershele in the Heavenly Court,
a n d
A
Story about a Jew.
In A
Perfect Account
we a re to ld th a t Rabbi E limelech o f
L izhensk d irec ted his disciples on Yom K ip p u r eve to go to
a hou se an d observe what goes on th e re . A ta ilo r a n d his e n t ire
family w ere com p le ting work on a g a rm en t . A f te r they p ray ed
an d ate, the ta ilo r a n n o u n c e d th a t he would now give an accoun t
o f th e sins h e an d his fam ily comm itted in th e pas t year. He
8 Cf. in this connection the various legends in tractate Taanit 24-25a about
Eleazar o f Bartota, Rabbi Kahana and Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa, none o f
whom wished to benefit materially from miracles that were worked for them.
9 Cf. Bezah 16a.
10 In the words o f the Talmud: “The Merciful One requires the heart,” San-
hedrin 106b, and see Rashi there.