In a yeshiva there were some students who studied day and night and they davened with kavannah. They were the top students in the yeshiva and were very close to the rosh yeshiva.
One day, they went to the rosh yeshiva and asked him if it would be possible for them to see moshiach (the Messiah). The holy rabbi looked at them for some moments and stroked his beard and then answered:
“To be able to do such a thing one must prepare themselves with prayer, holy meditations, fasts and other religious service.”
The students seemed to answer in one voice, “We will do all that you tell us for we really wish to see moshiach.” The students immediately began to say special prayers, spend hours meditating, fasted many days and performed other religious deeds. After some time, they went back to the rosh yeshiva told him they had completed their preparations and asked where they can see Moshiach.
The holy rabbi looked them and told them that in a faraway village they would meet moshiach. The students immediately boarded a carriage and set off on the long journey to the village.
When they arrived in the village they went to the local inn and gathered around a table. They told innkeeper that they wanted a meal with meat, bread and cake. As they were ordering their food they began to ask, “Where do you get your meat?”
“From the butcher.”
“Is the butcher shomer shabbos? Does he have yirah shamayim?”
“Yes, he’s a very religious man.”
“Did your wife properly kasher the meat? Is she very careful to separate the day for the meat?”
“When your wife makes bread, does she use water or milk? Does she use oil, butter or schmaltz when baking bread?”
Now in the inn there was a large stove that warmed everyone. From behind a stove came a beggar. The beggar walked up to the table where the students were seated and greeted them, “Shalom Aleichem” the students did not respond. The beggar greeted them again, “Shalom Aleichem” again the students ignored him.
The beggar then asked, “May I sit with you?” one of the students responded, “go away, you are dirty and filthy. We are torah scholars here on very important business and have no time for the likes of you.”
The beggar looked at the students for a moment and then asked, “Can I share your meal with you?” the students responded, “You are dirty and offensive. Look at how you are dressed? How can you sit with us scholars?”
The beggar then looked at each student, and then asked, “Can I give you a piece of advice? The students laughed at him and said,
“We are very learned and are here on a very holy mission. You’re dressed in rags and are obviously a man without means or knowledge. What advice could you possibly give us?”
The beggar waited for the students to stop laughing and quietly told them,
“you are so careful about the level of kashurus of what goes into your mouth, you should be just as careful that what comes out of your mouth is kosher.” He then turned and went behind the stove and was seen no more.
A week went by and the students had not met moshiach. They then returned to yeshiva. The rosh yeshiva was waiting for them. When they arrived, he asked them excitedly, “well, what was it like to meet moshiach?”
“He was not there.”
“He was most definitely there. Who did you meet? Who did you talk to in the village?”
The students told the holy rabbi about the travelers, merchants and peasants who came to the inn during the week. the rabbi asked, “wasn’t there anyone else that you met?”
The students answered, “Not really.” The rabbi told them to think hard because the moshiach was definitely in the village while they were there. The students were silent and then one of them said there was that annoying beggar when we first came to the village.
The rabbi asked, “did you offer him Shalom?”
“No, he was a beggar.”
“Did you invite him to sit with you?”
“No, he was dirty, filthy and offensive.”
“Did you share a meal with him?”
The rabbi began to cry. The students were surprised and could not understand why the rosh yeshiva was so upset.
The rabbi explained, “If you had offered Shalom to him, every Jewish heart would have been touched the messianic time to have begun. If you had allowed him to sit with you, all of the Jewish people wouldn’t be gathered together. If you would have shared a meal with him, the holy Beis haMikdosh (Holy Temple) would have been rebuilt. Instead you chose to ignore him. Did he by chance teach you any secrets of the Torah?”
The students look to one another and one slowly said, “He only gave us a short bit of advice. He told us you are so careful about the level of kashurus of what goes into your mouth, you should be just as careful that what comes out of your mouth is kosher.”
The Rosh Yeshiva tore his coat, sat on the floor and cried.
Offenses of man against his neighbor are greater in the eyes of Hashem than offenses of man against Hashem. The first Beis haMikdosh was destroyed because of the sins of man against Hashem, namely, Avodah zarah, resulting in an exile of only 70 years. Yet look at how long the exile from the second Beis haMikdosh has been. This exile was caused by the overwhelming hatred among klal Yisro-l . An aveirah caused by loshon hara. (A sin caused by wrongful speech)
May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)