Page 99 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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DORON / HASIDIC AND FOLKLORISTIC MOTIFS
91
T h e g re a t pow e r o f fa ith in th e A lm igh ty is desc ribed very
beau tifu lly in th e ballad
The Debate.
In a Polish village th e re
lived a Jew -h a t in g p riest, who constan tly inc ited the mob to
rob an d p lu n d e r th e Jews. O n e day he a n n o u n c e d th a t he was
ready to d eb a te a h u n d r e d Rabbis con ce rn in g relig ious m a tters .
T h e
paritz,
h o p in g to conv e r t some o f th e Jew s, a n n o u n c ed a
pub lic d eba te . T h e f r ig h te n e d Jew s o f th e village sen t m essen ­
gers to the Rabbi o f th e n e a re s t city ask ing him to send them
a Jew ish scho lar who would be capab le o f answ e r ing the p r ie s t’s
questions. O n the day o f th e deba te , the priest, fe ign ing m ag ­
nan im ity , a n n o u n c e d th a t each side wou ld ask the o th e r th re e
ques tions , b u t since the Jew ish re lig ion was the o ld e r one , the
Jew s cou ld be first. No scho lar h ad yet a rr iv ed to re p re s e n t
the Jews. Sudden ly , as if by a m iracle, a p o o r Jew ish p ed d le r
a p p ro a c h e d th e dais, claim ing to r e p re s e n t th e Jews. Saying th a t
he would pose b u t one question , he tu rn e d to the p r ies t an d
asked (in Hebrew ): “W ha t does
eineni yode’a
mean? T h e p r ies t
answ ered : “Ya nie vyem!” (“I do no t know ” — in Polish). T h is
was his downfall. “H e does no t know! T h e p e d d le r won!,” a n ­
n o u n c ed th e
paritz.
We sense h e re th e fu lf illm en t o f the p ro v ­
erb : “T h e r igh teou s is de live red ou t o f troub le an d the wicked
comes in his s tead .”30 A n o th e r th o u g h t exp re ssed in this story
is th a t the “red e em in g ang e l” may come from am ong the sim ­
plest o f folks, i f he b u t tru s ts in God w ithou t question ing .
F rom th e folkloristic tale
The Wealthy R a v Henzil and the Beggar,
com posed in th e fo rm o f a m aqam a , we de rive a n o th e r lesson
in fa ith in the A lm ighty . O ne day in th e public ba th , Rav Henzil
h e a rd a b eg g a r com p la in ab o u t th e stinginess o f the rich m an
to whose hou se he h ad been sen t fo r the p rev ious Shabbat.
He th e r e u p o n d e te rm in e d to teach th e b egg a r no t to be a g lu t­
ton . W hen th e p a u p e r asked him what k ind o f pe rson was this
Rav Henzil to whose house h e was assigned fo r the following
Shabbat, he desc ribed him as the g rea te s t o f misers. H e advised
the b egg a r to s tu f f h im se lf with ha llah an d fish, fo r he would
get little else.
T h a t Sabba th th e b eg g a r followed Rav H enz il’s advice. W hen
it came, however, to th e go lden soup , the chicken , an d the d e ­
licious desse rt, his eyes p o p p e d o u t bu t he cou ld no t budge .
All the while Rav Henzil was p ro d d in g h im to e a t m o re and
30 Proverbs 11:8.