#450 (s5766-40 / 9 Tamuz 5766)
The huge millstone on the outskirts
of 19th century Jerusalem was turned by the steady and patient treading
of a 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
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."
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.
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!
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.'
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."
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
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