The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 13 June 2009 / 20 Sivan 5769

The Clout of a Compliment

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"Hand us that attaché case or we'll kill you!"

This was the frightening threat heard by the London businessman who had just emerged from an important deal that brought him 100,000 pounds sterling in cash. He realized that the three thugs standing before him had trailed him and were out to get his money.

A flash of inspiration moved him to thus address the young leader of the gang:

"You look to me like a decent person and an intelligent one. Why do you want my money?"

Totally taken aback by this question the gangster stammered that he needed the money for alcohol and drugs.

"How much do you need for that?" he was asked.

"Five pounds," was the reply.

So the businessman took out a ten-pound note and handed it to him and his would-be assailants left.

The next morning the much-relieved businessman was coming out of his synagogue and was met by the gang leader who handed him a five-pound note as change for the ten he had received.

"I am 27 years old," he explained, "and no one has ever complimented me as being decent or intelligent. I was so moved by what you said that I even refused to keep the extra money you gave me."

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