Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Old Miser

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived an old miser. 
Whenever a poor person would ask him for money, he would scoff and turn away from them.
He was very mean and never gave Tzedakah to anyone. 

One day, when he was at home, there came a KNOCK on his door. When he opened the door, standing there was a mother, father, and a little girl. Their clothing was ragged and they looked like they haven't eaten food in many days.

"Please," said the father "we are very poor and very hungry. I can't get a job. I have no food, no clothing, and no house. Please, Please, can you give us a little Tzedakah money?"

"Harumph!" replied the old miser "it's not my fault that you are poor. Too bad!"
And with that, he slammed the door in the poor family's face.

Astonished that the old miser wouldn't have pity on them, they went to the local Rabbi.
When the Rabbi heard how cruel and mean the old miser was to the poor family, he decided it was time to pay the old miser a visit.

That evening, while the old miser was having his supper, there came another KNOCK on his door.
When he opened the door, he was surprised to see the Rabbi himself standing there.
"Please come in" said the old miser to the Rabbi.

"Today," began the Rabbi, " a very poor family came to your house begging to be given a little Tzedakah. Instead, you slammed the door in their faces!"
"It's my fault that they are poor" replied the old miser, "maybe Hashem made them poor because they are bad people."
"Or maybe Hashem made them poor so that you can do a Mitzvah!" replied the Rabbi.

Upset over this comment, the old miser took out three pennies from his pocket and threw them at the Rabbi!
"Here," said the old miser "give this to them!"

Disgusted, the Rabbi got up and left the house.

The old miser had enough of people constantly asking him for money.  He decided that he was going to move someplace where no one knew him, and then no one would ask for Tzedakah from him.

Early the next morning, he packed all his money and possessions in a large trunk, tied it to his horse and buggy, and left town. The new town was a few days journey away, and he was half way through the journey when the old miser's life changed forever.

As he was riding, a band of thieves stopped him and took his horse, buggy, and his trunk filled with all his money and belongings! He was left with nothing but the clothing on his back, in the middle of nowhere.

The old miser decided that he would start walking back to his old town. By foot, it would take him a few days until he returned. As he was walking, it started to rain causing the dirt road to become very slippery. The old miser tripped and fell many times, tearing his clothing and giving him bruises on his face and hands.

In the meantime, the thieves decided that they needed to hide the trunk of money they stole. They decided to sink the trunk at the bottom of the river, and would come back later to retrieve it. 

It was now three days later, and the old miser finally made it back to his town. He was very hungry and his torn clothing and dirty appearance made him look like a beggar. 
In addition, he got very sick from all the rain and walking so that he was unable to speak.

When he got to town, he stopped the first person he saw to ask for help. The passerby looked at the dirty old man and said "I don't give charity to dirty beggars!"

The old miser tried to get the next person to help, and she responded "It's not my fault you are poor! Now get away from me you horrible person!"

Devastated, the old miser tried to ask one more person for help.
"Here," said the person, taking three pennies out of his pocket and throwing them at him "now get away from me!"

Exhausted, the old miser went to the edge of the river and sat down.
Then, he began crying. He realized that everything that happened to him was because he was always mean to people that asked him for Tzedakah. He cried and cried, begging Hashem to forgive him. He realized how wrong he was, and asked for forgiveness. After crying for most of the night, the old miser fell asleep by the river's edge.

The next morning, he awoke starving, for he has not eaten in over three days. Knowing that no one would give him money for food, he decided to try to fish for food himself.
He took off his shoelace and hooked one of his buttons around the end. He then threw that end into the river, hoping that a fish would bite it.

Instead, the shoelace got stuck on something.
He tried to pull it free, but to no avail. He once again cried out to Hashem for help, for now he truly has reached the bottom. He lost all his money, has no food, and now he can't even catch a fish to eat! How sad and lonely the poor old miser felt.

With one last tremendous effort, he gave the shoelace a strong tug.
Suddenly, it began to move! Struggling, he continued pulling and pulling, until finally, the shoelace broke the surface of the water. And attached to the end... was his trunk with all his money and possessions! 

He thanked Hashem and knew what he had to do.

After he got cleaned up and ate some food, he went straight to the poor family he was mean to. He apologized to them, and bought them a house to live in, new clothing, and enough food to last them a lifetime.

He then told the Rabbi to send any beggar to him, for he would make certain to help them out in any way possible. The old miser was very generous with his money. He was never mean to any poor person, and was always glad to be able to do a Mitzvah. 

From that day on, the old miser never forgot what it was like to be poor and lonely. And now, everyone calls him the Good Old Tzaddik!


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