The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 18 June 2011 / 15 Sivan 5771

A Reward From Heaven

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

"Did you hear where Shimon is making his daughter’s wedding? It’s going to be in the most expensive hall in town!" This was the outraged reaction of a neighbor of Shimon upon reading the invitation he received. He shared his shock with another neighbor who had been his partner in collecting money from their fellow congregants in a Bnei Brak synagogue to provide Shimon, an indigent Torah scholar, with the minimum funds required to make a simple wedding. Realizing that more and more people would be surprised at his choice of a hall, Shimon rushed to the rabbi of the congregation to explain what had happened.

Shimon had already contacted the cheapest hall in town and made an appointment to discuss arrangements. Before he left the meeting there was a knock on his door. There stood a stranger who asked to speak to him for a few minutes. He told Shimon that he just got up from the shiva mourning period for his father, the owner of a large wedding hall in town. Just before passing away he told his son that during the Holocaust there was a Jew who had saved his life at the risk of his own. Upon arriving in Israel he was anxious to locate this Jew and somehow show his gratitude. All he knew of him, however, was his first name and the town he came from, and his search proved unsuccessful. Now that he was leaving this world he charged his son with the responsibility of locating that Jew or any heir of his and to repay him the favor he owned him.

During the shiva period one of the comforters mentioned the heroism of the mourner's father and another Jew in surviving the Holocaust. In the ensuing conversation, it suddenly became clear that the mysterious benefactor was the father of Shimon. As soon as the shiva period was over he rushed to Shimon’s home and when he verified that he was indeed the son of the man who saved his father’s life, he burst into tears. Upon hearing that Shimon was about to make a wedding he insisted that it be done in the hall he inherited from his father at no expense and would not take no for an answer.

Thus was the mystery solved and Shimon’s reputation reestablished in his community.

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