In the Little Shtetl of Vaysechvoos: The Bookseller
To the little shtetl of Vaysechvoos there came a merchant, Yossel the bookseller. It was near the end of the year and, of course, he carried with him a large quantity of luachs which he offered to the people of Vaysechvoos at a bargain price. Now every family in Vaysechvoos was in need of a luach. How else could the women know when to light the Shabbos candles or prepare for the holidays? What good Jewish man could follow the Torah without a luach to remind him of the proper times to pray to the Almighty?
Everyone in the town bought one of Yossel’s luachs. But at first, no one noticed that the date on it was seven years earlier than the year they were about to begin. And when they discovered it, oh, were they angry! They said amongst themselves, “What can we do? We have a luach for 5647 and it will be 5654 in just a few short days.”
Some of the townspeople wanted to go chase after Yossel, who was now a considerable distance from Vaysechvoos. Some wanted to demand their hard-earned money back. Others wanted to tar and feather him. But everyone knew that it was not likely that they would find him.
They appealed to their rabbi to help them. “What should we do, rabbi? We were taken in by Yossel, the peddler of books.”
The rabbi thought on the matter, then a little light appeared in his eyes. He looked up to the faces of his distraught congregants and said, “We’ll just use these seven-year-old luachs, as long as we understand among ourselves that this year will be 5647 instead of 5654. Then next year, we’ll go to the right date.”
Everyone agreed it was a stroke of genius on the part of their rabbi to come up with such a solution, for the people of Vaysechvoos were known for their frugality. They could appreciate a bargain and they had certainly bought these calendars at a bargain price. And why should they waste their unused, perfectly good luachs just because the year was wrong? Why, the people of Vaysechvoos wouldn’t waste as much as an inch of thread, let alone a luach!
Things went well for the people of Vaysechvoos that year, even if people in other places went by a different date. As for Yossel the bookseller, well, he never expected to go back there again, for the handsome profit he made was at the expense of the people there. But one day he met a Bal Agoloh (coachman) from Vaysechvoos, who asked him to return to the town. “We’ve been using the luachs you sold us. What a bargain they were!”
After hearing that, Yossel seized upon a marvelous idea and hurried back to the supplier from whom he had gotten the seven-year-old luachs.
“I’d like to purchase some more of your out-of-date luachs,” he said with a smile on his face. The supplier was only happy enough to unload his out-of-print stock. And so, Yossel returned to Vaysechvoos and was able to sell the luachs to the townspeople again. Of course he still offered a bargain price.
And it is said that the average Jew in Vaysechvoos lives seven years less than Jews elsewhere for buying bargain luachs.
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.