Posted on April 29th, 2012 by Rabbi
One of the men who studied at the yeshiva of the holy MaHaRaL of Prague was very poor indeed. So poor was he that in his distress he decided to go around by night and see whether any door was open, so that he might go in and steal whatever he found. He made the rounds in this fashion from place to place throughout the night.
Early in the morning when most people were just waking up he would enter the house of study to hear the lessons of the holy rabbi. Indeed, he was the first to enter. He once heard the sage expound on the rule that no man should touch what has been prepared for his neighbors:
“Even if you see that thieves steal the money of their fellows, the Holy One, blessed be He returns to them what they lost in principle and interest. It is true that those who have taken money dishonestly would have obtained the same amount honestly and not by robbery if they had had confidence and faith. Sometimes, if they had been prepared to wait and not to take the money unlawfully, they would have benefited from it lawfully and with peace of mind. It is only the effect of their evil inclination that makes it seem to them as if they must steal in order not to perish from hunger.”
On one occasion when this man was going about to steal after his manner, he entered the home of a widow by night. He remember the teaching of the holy rabbi, “While forcing the lock, the burglar calls on divine aid.” (Machberos ch 11 (c.1300)) After he had gathered her belongings in order to take them and then recalled the teachings of his wise teacher, he said to himself: “Tonight I want to test the rabbi’s words and see how true they are.” So he did not take a single thing, neither large nor small. But then he stumbled upon a basket in which there were all kinds of fine dainties and a fat fowl. He said to himself: “I have not stolen valuables, at least let me eat what I see here. Why should this night be different?” But then he told himself again: “This time I have already decided not to steal anything. Maybe the rabbi’s words will be fulfilled after all and there will be some easement for me.” He went back to the house of study as usual.
After the prayers were over, the widow came to the rabbi and said to him: “Wise and learned sir, I am a rich woman but have been left alone, for my husband died at heaven’s decree. Now, last night I felt that thieves came to the house and wished to steal; but owing to heaven’s grace they stole nothing and left everything and went away. Now, I entreat you, seek me out a proper man who will be prepared to be my stay and support.” The rabbi told her: “My daughter, have no fear. I know a certain decent man. If you take my counsel, he will be your husband, and the two of you will live in peace.” Then the man was brought before the rabbi who said to him: “See, you have neither wife nor children. Take this woman as your wife.” The man listened to his teacher and betrothed the woman and married her. At the wedding feast she set before them all the fine foods and dainties and the fattened fowl she herself had prepared.
Then the man went to the rabbi and told him: “Indeed, it is fit and proper for you to teach, for the truth is in your mouth. Blessed is the L-rd who allowed me the privilege of sitting before you and hearing your pleasant words, which served me as a shield and buckler.”
And that man repented fully and entirely, and sat every night studying with the rabbi, who had foreseen all this, thanks to the Holy Spirit.
May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)
Listen to more stories told by the Master Storyteller, Rachmiel Tobesman – The Treasures of the King, the Princess and the Peat Digger, Seven Jewish stories, on Amazon or Coins, Candles and Faith, eight stories of Faith on Amazon