Page 92 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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84
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
leviate his g rief . S udden ly he lau g h ed an d re la ted to his d is­
ciples th e follow ing: W hen H e rsh e le was b ro u g h t b e fo re the
Heaven ly C o u r t an d q u e s tion ed , he re fu s e d to answ e r un less
he was b ro u g h t b e fo re th e T h r o n e o f G lory itself. W hen s ta n d ­
ing b e fo re God , H e rsh e le said “M as ter o f th e Un iverse , I am
willing to be ju d g e d by You, b u t n o t by th e ju d g e s .” H e p ro ceed s
to tell the A lm igh ty a t ru e story ab o u t him self: O n e Passover
eve, no t hav ing a cen t to his n am e with which to m ake Pesah ,
he sorrow fu lly left th e house , h o p in g to ge t some don a t io n .
Sudden ly he m e t a m an from whom he a lready h ad bo r row ed
several times, b u t d id no t repay . H e tr ied to avoid h im , b u t
the m an called ou t: “R. H e rshe l , I fancy you still have no m oney
fo r the fo u r cups o f wine. H e re is a rub le , b u t p rom ise me
th a t this tim e you will rep ay me, one rub le each m o n th .”
H e rsh e le took the m oney an d he an d his fam ily h ad a w o n d e rfu l
Pesah. W ith g re a t pa ins he saved every p en n y an d m an ag ed
to m ake fo u r paym en ts . O n e day b e fo re th e H igh Holy days,
when th e f ifth an d last p aym en t was a lready o v e rdu e , he aga in
m e t his b en e fa c to r in th e s tree t. O u t o f em b a r ra s sm en t H e rsh e le
c rossed th e s tre e t to avoid him . However, th e le n d e r called ou t:
“R. H e rshe l, I see you a re em b a rra ssed on accoun t o f th e fif th
p aym en t. You m ade fo u r paym en ts an d th e fifth is fo rg iven
you !” H e rsh e le th en tu rn e d to th e A lm igh ty an d said: “You
have given me my life as a loan , to be rep a id in five paym en ts
. . . I f fo r th e Jew
fou r
paym en ts w ere e n o u g h , it’s su re ly en o u g h
fo r You too !” A nd in d e ed th e fif th p aym en t was waived by
Heaven . M o reover , “th e H eaven ly C o u r t an d th e L o rd all to ­
g e th e r lau g h ed with tea rs an d sa tisfac tion” at H e rsh e le ’s im p e r ­
tinence .
In
A Story About a Jew
we aga in see th e s tre n g th o f a simple
Jew , who was saved f rom G eh en n a d u e to th e m e r i t o f one
m itzvah which he p e r fo rm e d perfec tly an d with g re a t ca re all
his life. I t is a tale ab o u t a coachm an who w o rked h im se lf to
the bone ju s t to sc rape to g e th e r a b a re m in im um o f a living.
H e h ad no edu c a tion o r good d eed s to speak of, no t even the
c red i t o f p ra y e r h ad he to his name! N o t even d u r in g th e T e n
Days o f Pen itence d id he ch ang e his ways — constan tly p lo d d in g
at his toil a n d d o ing his u tm o s t to susta in his family.
O nce , on H o sh an ah R abbah , he fell asleep in his wagon an d
lo, in his d re am he b eh e ld th e Heaven ly C o u r t an d saw how
his d eed s w ere be ing we ighed on la rge scales. T h e left scale