In the Little Shtetl of Vaysechvoos: Misfortunes

In the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos, a Jew was hurrying home from his business to prepare for Rosh Hashanah when he was accosted by two hooligans, beaten and robbed.

He was angry with the forces that ordained that life should be what it is. So he went to the rabbi of Vaysechvoos with a lament. He gave the rabbi a full account of the deed. The rabbi sat, stroking his beard, and said, I see, I see, I see, I see.”

“But, rabbi,” the man said. “What do you see? You are a sage of renown, a wise man. I want you to tell me why such a thing should happen to me, especially on Rosh Hashanah eve?”

“After you were beaten and Iying on the ground, unable to pick yourself up, what did you think, see and hear?”

The Jew thought for a long moment and he said, “First I wondered if I would ever live to see my daughter married and know the joy of having a grandson. Then, after that, I saw the boots of a man walking slowly by. Now far away, I heard the rattle of a team and the clomp of many hooves against the ground.”

Once again, the rabbi said, “I see, I see, I see, I see.”

“But, rabbi, what do you see?”

“I can see why it might have happened to you. The Almighty is good. Blessed be His holy name. In my vision, I see that those boots belonged to a brutish big man, an assassin who was following you for your money. I see you murdered, a funeral and great mourning.”

“Is that all you see?”

“No,” said the rabbi. “The sound of the horses was a big team driven by a Jewish teamster who was also in a hurry to get home to prepare for the holidays. I see you crossing the road. The horses knock you down and the wagon, with the steel-rimmed wheels, rolls over your legs. A cripple for life.”

“Oh, my God!’ said the Jew. “Is that all you see?”

“No,” said the rabbi. “I see that you arrive home safely. You make a good match for your daughter. She marries. Her first-born is a son. He goes to play outside where it is not safe. His mother admonishes him to stay out of alleys but the child says, ‘Zayde always walks in alleys.’ Your daughter realizes that she cannot correct your grandson because you hurry home through alleys.”

“But rabbi,” implored the Jew. “Which three of these worse misfortunes would have befallen me if the hooligans hadn’t beset me?”

“Probably none of them. They never happened before now.”

“Then, rabbi, why did the Almighty let this happen? Give me the real reason.”

The rabbi, again stroking his beard, paused. Then he said, “The mishap came to you so that you, who go hurrying about from here to there from your shop to your home, from your home to the synagogue, from the synagogue to your home, might take a moment and come to your rabbi so that the rabbi could tell you that God is good and that He cares for you. Otherwise, worse would happen.”

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Susan Perlman | San Francisco

Director of Communications, Missionary

Susan Perlman is one of the co-founders of Jews for Jesus. Susan is the associate executive director of Jews for Jesus and also director of communications for the organization. She also serves as the editor in chief of ISSUES, their evangelistic publication for Jewish seekers. She left a career track in New York City to help launch Jews for Jesus in San Francisco in the early 1970s. See more here.

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Have Questions?

Connect with Jews for Jesus. No matter where you are on the journey of life, whether you’re Jewish or non-Jewish, a believer in Jesus or not – we want to hear from you. Chat with someone online or connect via our contact page below.  
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