Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Cut the Challah, no blood will be lost!"

In Ethics of our Fathers, chapter 4 it says:  Ben Azzai used to say: “Do not regard anyone with contempt, and do not reject anything; for there is no man who does not have his hour, and nothing which does not have its place.” (Avot 4:3)

One late Friday afternoon a poor man, who had not eaten in days, stood in the doorway of the home of Rabbi Yitzchak of Kalush. Smelling the freshly baked bread he held out his hand for something to eat. . .
The cook, wanting to save the freshly baked challot for shabbat looked around for an old, stale piece of bread, the kind that is usually given to beggars, but she found none.

“Slice up a loaf of the fresh bread” a man’s voice said, “no blood will be lost because of it.
And so she cut into the, soft fresh challah, and gave the poor man a thick slice to eat, which he ate greedily. As he left, a man with kind eyes nodded to him. He was the one who had told the cook to cut the bread. The poor man knew that this man had saved his life.

Time passed. The poor man was not a very successful beggar. He did better as a thief. In time, he became the leader of highway robbers. They would rob highway travelers and as often as not, they would then kill their victims.

One day, they stopped a certain Jew. With rough shouts they tied him up, and took his money. Then suddenly, the chief took a second look. Instead of seeing the usual terror in his victim’s eyes, there was a glance of absolute calm, and in his eyes was a look of a profound kindness.
Suddenly the chief realized he had seen that look before. “Take this!” he said, throwing the money back into the Jew's lap. “Unbind him and let him go! he commanded to his men. “I owe this man a debt!”
“Do you remember?” he said to the Jew. “Once a poor beggar came to your door just before your holy day. ‘Give him some bread,’ you said. ‘No blood will be lost because of it.
“I bet you never dreamed that the blood not lost would be your own! Go in peace, Rabbi Yitzchak of Kalush!”

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