The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 6 December 2008 / 9 Kislev 5769

The Tzaddik and The Thief

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll


It was late at night when the famous Jerusalem tzaddik Rabbi Aryeh Levin heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door he heard from two men standing there that a thief was right now in the process of stealing the contents of a store in the Machane Yehuda Market. Since they themselves were afraid of starting up with such an outlaw, they came to enlist the aid of Rabbi Levin.

This great man, who was renowned for his ability to influence people in a gentle manner, quickly got dressed and rushed to the scene of the crime. When he arrived he saw that the thief had already succeeded in completely removing everything from the store's shelves and was preparing to take it all away.

"How dare you steal," the rabbi challenged the thief, "when the Torah prohibits doing so!"

The thief was so moved by the combination of gentleness and force in which this was said that he asked the rabbi what he should do now with all the goods he had removed from the store. The answer was that he must return them to the shelves and that the rabbi would help him do so. When their work was completed Rabbi Levin made a special mi sheberach prayer for the thief who had so gallantly fulfilled the Torah command to return stolen property.

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