#450 (s5766-40 / 9 Tamuz 5766)

The Wonder Horse

The huge millstone on the outskirts of 19th century Jerusalem was turned by the steady and patient treading of a horse.

The Wonder Horse

Reb Yehoshua Milner made a good living from the mill that he owned on the outskirts of 19th century Jerusalem. It was situated near a body of water and the huge millstone was turned by the steady and patient treading of a horse which spent its days pacing round and round in an endless circle. Reb Yehoshua, however, almost never went there. A devout and scholarly man, he allowed all the work of the mill to be supervised by his manager, Reb Shmuel. This enabled him to be free to devote all his time to Torah study.

When Reb Shmuel passed away another man was hired to be the manager of the mill. This new manager decided to improve the mill by replacing the slow, old horse with a new massive one, stronger by far than the other horses that had worked there before. The new horse accomplished work so much more quickly than the previous ones, that it became known as "the wonder horse."

Soon word of this magnificent horse spread through the countryside, and bidders came from near and far to try to buy the fabulous animal. Much more money was waiting to be made through the horse if it would be used for other more demanding tasks, such as pulling huge loads, or transporting the wealthy from place to place.

Reb Yehoshua was unwilling to sell the horse, and he refused all bids that were presented to him. However, no matter how many times he said "no," and how many people he rebuffed, offers continued to come his way from people who wished to purchase the horse.

Finally, when Reb Yehoshua tired of the continual interruptions to his Torah study, he set a price for "the wonder horse" of 25 Napoleons, a sum that would support a family for two years. Surely, no one would be so foolhardy as to make an offer like that! Reb Yehoshua, however, underestimated the tenacity of his would-be buyers. One merchant actually came up with the sum and a deal was struck.

The night before the sale was to be finalized, Reb Yehoshua couldn't sleep. He tossed and turned in his bed until, finally, in the middle of the night, he gave up. He dressed and left the house, telling his family he would soon return.

His employees were shocked to see the owner, Reb Yehoshua, arrive at the mill. As he never visited the mill during the day, what was he doing there in the middle of the night? Reb Yehoshua walked straight up to the horse as all of the employees looked on. He stopped at the horse's side and whispered in the mighty animal's ear, "Shmuel, I forgive you completely." When the horse heard those words, it dropped dead. Literally. Reb Yehoshua said nothing and returned to his home.

The next day news quickly spread that "the wonder horse" had died the previous night, for no apparent reason. "A healthy horse!" everyone exclaimed, and a horse worth 25 Napoleons! Who had ever heard of such a thing!

Reb Yehoshua called his family and friends and related the amazing story of the previous evening. "Last night I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and when I fell asleep at last, I had a very strange dream. In the dream my former employee, Shmuel, appeared to me and said, 'I must confess to you. I wasn't the wonderful manager you thought me to be. I stole from you throughout all the years I worked at the mill. When I died and appeared before the Heavenly Court, I was informed that the only way I could expiate my terrible sin against man and G-d was to return to earth in the form of your mill horse so that I could repay my debt to you. I was given an especially strong body so that I could work extra hard. For months I toiled tirelessly, making up for what I stole from you throughout the years.

But it seems I did my job too well, for I became renowned for my strength and stamina. When I heard that you were planning to sell me, I was horrified. I would not be able to expiate my sins unless I was working for you in your mill. If you would sell me, I would have to return to earth once more, perhaps in an even lesser form, to atone for my misdeeds. I cannot bear the idea of returning again, so I beg you, please forgive me for what I did to you.'

"When I heard his plea, I jumped up out of bed and ran immediately to the mill. I went up to the horse and told him that I forgave him with all my heart. And when he heard my words, he expired, for he had fulfilled his purpose here on earth. Now, poor Shmuel will find his peace in the next world."
[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#528).]

Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

back to Top   back to Index   Stories home page
Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION