The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 29 October 2005 / 26 Tishri 5766

Who is the Guest?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Studying a rare volume in the Judaica section of the Royal Library in Vienna was none other than the rabbi of the Brod community, Rabbi Eliezer Landau. This famed Torah scholar, who authored the Yad Hamelech, was interrupted in his reading by a stranger who asked him who he was. When he identified himself as the rabbi of Brod, the stranger expressed his pleasure at meeting him and promised to look him up when he next visited his city.

Upon returning the book the rabbi asked the librarian who it was that had so greeted him. "That was the emperor!" replied the surprised librarian.

The emperor kept his promise and eventually arrived unannounced at the rabbis home. The excitement of receiving such an honored guest and of making the special blessing on seeing a king caused the rabbi to forget to invite the emperor to sit down. "Is it some sort of Jewish custom," asked the laughing emperor, "to refrain from inviting a guest to sit down?"

The quick-witted response of the rabbi was:

"According to Jewish tradition whenever the emperor comes he becomes the host and all are his guests. We are therefore waiting for the emperor to invite us to sit down."

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