The ancient kings used to put on plain, dirty, mended clothes, to disguise themselves from their subjects, and would then go forth to see what was being done in their country. As the ancient law taught “You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; you shall not respect the person of the poor, nor favour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour.” (Lev 19:15)
Once the king of Marrakesh and his viceroy went forth, disguised in torn and tattered garments. It was night and they went to the market place to ask for alms from the Moslems who frequented the place. But no man gave them anything. They met one Jewish peddler, whose merchandise was old clothes, boots and bottles, and he gave them one old coin. They had barely had time to thank him for his kindness when they heard an Arab woman say: “Jewish peddler! Come here! I have something to sell you!”
The Jewish peddler went to her and immediately the woman tried to seduce him. “This we may not do for it is forbidden by the Torah (Scriptures we live by and isn’t it forbidden by the Koran!” The woman let out a loud cry, and the Jewish peddler ran away.
The woman raised her voice and began to accuse the Jewish peddler falsely. “This Jewish peddler came to seduce me. He insulted me and attacked me.” The king and his viceroy heard the cries: “Come here Moslems and see what Jewish peddlers can do!“
Soon people who heard the cries of the woman gathered and attacked the Jewish peddler. Who can tell what might have been the fate of the unfortunate peddler had the king and the viceroy not come forward and suggested: “Leave him alone! Do not kill him, “ Some answered, “This Jewish peddler is an evildoer and should be burned alive in the market place. Take him to the king for judgment. Let all the Jewish peddlers witness his burning and let them learn from his misdeeds!” The king reminded all present, “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deut 16:20) from the king.
The Jewish peddler was led to the king’s palace for trial. In the mean-time he was placed in prison.
On the day of the trial a large crowd of people, men, women and children, gathered to see how the infidel would be tried for having insulted an Arab woman.
The king opened the trial saying: “Tell me all about the matter, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
The woman began, saying that the Jewish peddler had attacked her and wished to violate her.
“Have you any witnesses?” the king asked her.
And the entire multitude shouted: “We are the witnesses! We saw all that came to pass! All that the woman has said is true.”
“I believe you,” the king said. “But tell me, do I see rightly at this moment, camels laden high with merchandise in the heavens? Do I see rightly?”
The people stared up into the sky and shouted: “It is true, our lord the king! There are camels laden with merchandise in the heavens.”
“Count me the camels,“ the king commanded them.
The entire multitude looked up into the heavens. One shouted five camels, another seven and a third ten. Every man declared a different number.
“It is well,” said the king. “Let it be as you have said.” And then, turning to the Jewish peddler, he said: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens and count the camels.”
The Jewish peddler stared into the sky but, of course, could see nothing.
“I believe what you have said, my lord the king,” he said. “I believe that you have seen camels laden with merchandise in the heavens, but I cannot see anything.”
The king turned once again to the multitude. “Look up into the heavens again. See if there are any stars there, though it is the full light of day. I pray you, count them for me!”
All those that were gathered there raised their eyes to the heavens and cried out: “It is true! There are stars in the heavens!” And one said “Five stars” and the other “Seven stars” and a third “Ten stars”. Each one of them declared a different number.
Then the king turned again to the Jewish peddler: “You, too, look up in-to the heavens! How many stars can -you see?”
The Jewish peddler did as he was bidden and looked up into the heavens, but he could see nothing.
“My lord the king,” he said. “I believe what you have said. But I am not able to see even a single star.”
The king took out of his pocket the worn penny he had been given by the Jewish peddler, when he was disguised and roaming the marketplace together with his viceroy. “Look at this coin,” he said to the Jewish peddler. “Is it of silver or of copper?”
Said the Jewish peddler: “It is of silver, my lord. It is good silver. It may well have been mine, a coin that I spent.”
“You are right,“ said the king. “It was yours. This coin you gave in charity to two poor men, just before this incident occurred.” The king continued, “These are the things that you shall do: speak the truth with your neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.” (Zech 8:16)
Then the king and his viceroy brought the perjured witnesses to judgment. Each one of them was given many years in the royal prison and the woman who had falsely accused the Jewish peddler they sentenced to death for lying, gossip and dishonor ti Islam and trhe king. The Jewish peddler they found innocent.
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