קטגוריה: Shabbos Stories
פורסם בחמישי, 19 נובמבר 2020 18:44
נכתב על ידי Super User
The Shabbos Queen to the Rescue
The story we are going to tell you here came to pass over a hundred and fifty years ago . in the year 1831. It was the year of the Polish uprising, when Polish patriots organized a rebellion against their Russian overlords. They drove the Russians out of Warsaw and proclaimed independence (Jan. 1831). But later that year, the Russians recaptured Warsaw and crushed the revolt.
In a small Polish town near Kovno, there lived at that time a Jewish innkeeper. His name is not known to us, but we will call him Yosef. He was well known in the surrounding countryside as an honest and G-d-fearing Jew, whose wife could prepare delicious Jewish dishes. Members of the Polish nobility frequented Yosef.s inn, where there was never a shortage of good food and wine.
One day, on a late Friday afternoon, a Russian General and his troops arrived in town. They were returning from the fighting around Warsaw, and settled in the town for a rest after the long march. The sun had already set when the General sent his assistant to fetch some wine. The General had been told about the good reputation of the local Jewish innkeeper, and to him he directed his aide.
From every Jewish house the Shabbos candles were shining forth, which cast an air of festivity and holiness in the otherwise dark and deserted streets, through which the General.s aide made his way. He finally found the inn, but it was closed. He went around to the private entrance and knocked at the door.
The innkeeper, dressed in his Shabbos clothes, welcomed the adjutant into his house.
The General sent me to buy some of your best wine,. the aide said, taking out a roll of money.
.I am sorry indeed,. Yosef replied. .We are now celebrating the Sabbath. I do not do business on our holy day of Sabbath..
Nothing the adjutant said could make the Jew change his mind. The adjutant returned to his General and told him that the Jew had refused to sell him wine because of the Sabbath.
The General flew into a rage. He immediately dispatched two soldiers to the innkeeper to warn him that if he still refused to sell them wine for the General, he would face the most serious consequences.
Some time later the soldiers returned to the thirsty General . without wine.
.Why didn.t you bring me wine?!. the General roared.
.The Jew said, he could not sell any wine to anybody on his Sabbath.
However, he sent the key to his wine cellar, and suggested that perhaps the General might wish to help himself to any of the wine as his guest,. the soldiers reported.
The fury of the General began to evaporate as he contemplated the strange situation. .How strange that Jew is!. the General thought. .He would not sell me a bottle of wine because of the Sabbath, yet he is prepared to give away his entire wine-cellar. That little Jew has a great deal of brazenness, or perhaps courage is more to the point..
Such were the thoughts that crossed the General.s mind at that moment, and he decided to meet the Jew in person! When the General entered Yosef's house, he remained standing at the door as he absorbed the wonderful scene that met his eyes. The table was covered with a white cloth and laden with tasty dishes. The Shabbos candles shone brightly. Yosef and his wife and children were dressed in their Shabbos clothes; all faces aglow with delight. The General almost felt sorry to have disturbed this beautiful atmosphere and to have frightened the children.
Yosef rose to meet the General and respectfully invited him to join in the feast.
The General, who had burst into the house with the intention of teaching the Jew a lesson, felt his anger melt away. He sounded quite human, even polite, when he asked Yosef why he had refused to sell him some wine. .Don't you know that refusing to sell provisions to the army in times of war is tantamount to rebellion?.
.Your gracious highness surely knows that we Jews are forbidden to do business on our holy Shabbos day,. Yosef replied. .To keep the Shabbos day holy is one of the Ten Commandments given to us by G-d, the Supreme King of Kings. His command we must obey before any command by human kings and princes. However, now that your highness has been so gracious as to honor our humble house with your presence, allow us the opportunity of fulfilling another great commandment . that of hospitality. We shall indeed consider it a privilege if you and your adjutant would join us at the table. Please be our guests..
The General was greatly impressed. He sat down at the table and motioned his aide to do the same. Never in their lives had they enjoyed such delicious dishes before . gefilte fish with horseradish, roast chicken with tzimmess, kugel and kishka, with plenty of excellent wine to wash down each course. It was a feast fit for royalty.
Before leaving, the General took from his pocket a handful of golden pieces and offered them to Yosef. Politely but firmly Yosef refused to accept any money. .Have I not told your Highness that we consider it a special Mitzvah to offer hospitality. You were our guests, not clients. We are grateful to you for the privilege..
The General warmly shook hands with Yosef and departed in a happy mood. Several years later, some militiamen suddenly appeared in Yosef's inn and arrested him. Together with other dangerous rebels and criminals Yosef was brought to Vilna in chains.
During the long investigation that followed, Yosef learned that he was accused of taking part in a new Polish conspiracy to overthrow the Russians and drive them out of Poland. It so happened that the leader of the local rebels, Pan Kanarski, was captured, and in his documents, Yosef's inn was mentioned as the place where members of the Polish nobility frequently met to plan their revolt. This was proof enough that Yosef, too, was part of the conspiracy.
Yosef sat in prison awaiting trial, fully aware of the serious sentence that would be meted out to him . lifelong deportation to Siberia with hard labor, from which very few ever returned alive; or perhaps more mercifully . a quick death by a firing squad. In addition to his own plight, Yosef knew that if he were found guilty, it would cast a shadow on all the Jews of his town, with endless repression and persecutions.
While he knew that all efforts would be made by his fellow-Jews to establish his innocence, he could not feel very confident about the outcome. His only hope was to trust in the Heavenly Father. There was nothing for Yosef to do but to pray fervently and recite Tehillim, which he did constantly, tearfully, and with a broken heart.
One day, as he was in the midst of such supplication, the heavy door of his solitary cell opened, and a high official appeared. He was the Chief Inspector of prisons, on a routine check-up of the prison cells. The tears which filled Yosef.s eyes blurred his vision, and he could not see the Inspector very well.
But the Inspector gazed at him intently, and then exclaimed, .Why, this is my good friend Yosef the innkeeper. Good Heavens, what are you doing here?.
Yosef wiped his tears and looked in astonishment at the Inspector. It suddenly dawned on him that this was none other than the General whom he had entertained in his house that Friday night many years before! .Believe me, your Highness, I have done no wrong. I have always minded my own business, and taken no part in any politics. I am as innocent as a baby,.
.I have no doubt about it, Yosef,. the Chief Inspector assured him. .Rest assured that I shall leave no stone unturned to get you out of here. At last I shall be able to repay you for the friendship and hospitality you showed me that Friday night. I have never forgotten the experience of that evening..
The General, now Chief Inspector, personally appeared before the investigating committee and vouched for the innocence of the Jewish innkeeper.
He told them in detail of his experience with the innkeeper, and assured them that from his personal knowledge, he had not the slightest doubt that Yosef had no part in any conspiracy.. He is nothing more than an innkeeper, whose inn is open to all. In between serving his customers, he was always busy with his sacred books. How can he be held responsible for the actions of customers who found his inn a very attractive place to have a good meal?.
The Chief Inspector.s words, and his great influence in the highest spheres of the Russian government, dispelled all the suspicion directed against Yosef, and he was promptly released and sent home.
Great was the joy of Yosef.s family when he suddenly returned home, a free man.
.How did this wonderful thing happen?. his wife asked.
.The Queen has intervened in my behalf,. said Yosef.
.The Shabbos Queen, of course,. replied Yosef with a smile.