#181 (s5761-28/10 Nissan 5761)
THE GENEROUS TEACHER
The Bnei Yissascher ran to his father and begged him to come home.
THE GENEROUS TEACHER
When the Bnei Yissascher was ten years old, his father took a position as a teacher in a distant town. The Bnei Yissascher's father spent the duration of the winter in a Jewish-owned inn. In those days it was normal for a schoolteacher not to see his family from October to April.
That winter was particularly bitter. Snowstorms lasted for a week. During one such storm, a knock was heard at the door. The innkeeper opened the door and found three half frozen Polish peasants requesting a place to stay. He inquired of their ability to pay and found that their combined funds were not enough for even one night's stay. The innkeeper closed the door on them. The schoolteacher was shocked. When he complained to the owner, the owner merely shrugged and responded, "Do you want to undertake their expenses?" Much to the innkeeper's surprise, the teacher agreed.
The peasants thanked their benefactor and proceeded to enjoy themselves at his expense. That storm was particularly brutal and the peasants remained in the inn for two weeks. After the snow cleared enough for passage, they thanked the schoolteacher profusely and left.
Passover approached and the Bnei Yissascher's father went to settle his account. The innkeeper figured he owned the teacher 40 rubles for teaching his children, but the teacher owned him 43 rubles for taking in the peasants. The innkeeper wished him a happy Pesach and said he could bring the three rubles upon his return after Pesach.
The father did not know what to say. He bid his host farewell and left. He traveled to his village, but could not bring himself to go home. He stopped into one of the local synagogues, opened a tome of the Talmud and immersed himself in study. In the meantime, his son heard that his father was in town and went looking for him. He found his father in the shul.
The Bnei Yissascher ran to his father and with great emotion begged his father to come home. He wanted to show his father his new Passover shoes and clothes and all the other things mommy had bought (on credit). This made the father only feel worse. As they walked home a chariot came rumbling through the streets. The streets of that hamlet were very narrow and pedestrians were forced into alleyways to avoid be trampled. As the coach passed by the two, it hit a bump and a parcel fell off the back. The Bnei Yissascher's father picked it up and began running after the coach, but was unable to get the coachman's attention. The coach turned a corner and disappeared. The Bnei Yissascher's father, seeing no distinguishing marks on the bag, understood that in such a situation it may be presumed that the owner would relinquish all hope of its recovery, and since there was no possible way for him to locate the owner, therefore it was his to keep. He opened it and found exactly 43 rubles.
The night of the seder, the Bnei Yissascher was given the merit to open the door for Eliyahu. When he opened the door, he called to his father, "Ta, (Yiddish for 'Dad') the coachman is here!" There was no one there. The Bnei Yissascher's father pulled the boy aside and told him that he must promise never to tell anyone this story until he was on his death bed.
This story was told to me by a rabbi who heard it from a student of the Bnei Yissascher, who heard directly from the Bnei Yissascher on his death bed!
[Lightly edited from the weekly e-letter of Rabbi Herschel Finman of Detroit - Shliach613@aol.com]
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.
A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.
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