The Rich Partner


One Friday afternoon, a man knocked on the door of Rabbi Yizchak Eizik, rabbi of Vitebsk. “Rabbi, I have a din-Torah (a matter of litigation),” he said. “I request that you to hear my case and hand down a ruling.”

“The truth is,” said the rabbi, “that I’m quite busy now with the preparations for Shabbat. Perhaps you and your litigant can come after Shabbat, and I’ll hear you both out.”

“I’m a melamed,” said the man, “who teaches children from morning to night. The only time I’m free is on Friday afternoons.”

“Very well,” said Rabbi Yizchak Eizik, “I’ll hear your case now. But we must summon your litigant. It is forbidden for me to hear your arguments when he isn’t present.”

“He is present,” said the man. “My din-Torah is with G-d.”

“Okay,” said Rabbi Yizchak Eizik, after a long pause. “Have a seat, and I’ll try your case.”

Said the melamed: “G-d has blessed me with a daughter, who has now reached marriageable age. But I have not a kopeck in my pocket—no money for clothes, wedding expenses, much less a dowry. My claim is that G-d is legally obligated to provide for my daughter’s wedding.”

“What is your basis for such a claim?” asked Rabbi Yitzchak Eizik.

“The Torah states that ‘There are three partners to a person: his father, mother and G-d.’[13] Two of the partners are paupers, but the third partner is, by His own attestation, quite wealthy: does He not declare ‘Mine is silver, Mine is gold’[14]? It is therefore the duty of the rich partner to assume the expenditures of our joint endeavor.”

The Rabbi retreated to his study to check the relevant sources and ponder the case. After a while he emerged with his verdict. “The melamed is in the right,” he declared. “The Almighty is duty-bound, by Torah law, to provide for the young woman’s marriage.”

When the melamed neared home, he saw a luxurious coach pulling away from his dilapidated hut. “You won’t believe what just happened,” said his wife, the moment he came through the door. “Some nobleman was here with his wife. The lady has it in her mind that someone has given her the evil eye, and has heard that the melamed’s wife knows the proper charms to ward it off. I did as she asked, and then the nobleman asked me how much they owe me. I decided to go for broke, and named the sum we need for dowry and wedding expenses. Without a word, he put the money on the table and went.”

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber

[13] Talmud, Kiddushin 30b.

[14] Haggai 2:8.


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