The Right Judgment


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Once upon a time there lived a man named Elam in a small village in the Upper Galilee. Elam was very poor. He was married and had a wife and children to support. But he had very little land and there was nothing much he could do in his village for a living.

So Elam decided to travel to the south, work there for three years and come back with some money to support himself and his family.

So he set out southwards on a fine day. After a long and arduous journey, Elam reached a village and saw a decent house. The local people advised him to meet the owner of this house and ask for some work if he really needed a job.

Elam introduced himself to the owner who hired him for three years. Then on the eve of Yom Kippur Elam requested his employer to pay him his wages so that he could go back home and feed his wife and his children"

"I have no money," the employer answered.

"If not in cash, you can pay me in kind. You can pay me in produce." Elam said.

"But I have no produce either," his employer replied.

So Elam requested his employer to pay him in land. But again the man expressed his inability, for he had no lands either.

"Then pay me in livestock," the employee demanded.

"I am without livestock too," answered the employer.

"Can you at least give me pillows and sheets?" enquired a frustrated Elam. But he again got the same answer.

What could Elam do? The poor man folded up his belongings and came back to his village with a heavy heart.

Days after Sukkot, Elam got a surprise visitor. There was his employer standing outside his door with three donkeys, one carrying food, another carrying one with drink, and the third with various delicacies.

Elam invited his employer and introduced him to his family. After eating and drinking, the employer paid Elam his wages. Elam was surprised though he had a feeble hope that the man would pay him after all.

The visitor asked Elam, "What did you think when I said I had no money to pay you wages?"

Elam replied, "I thought that your money had been tied up because you have invested somewhere."

Again the employer asked, "What did you think when I told you that I had no livestock?"

"I thought you might have loaned the animals to someone else," the man answered.

Again the man asked, "And when I said I had no land to compensate you, what did you think?"

"That you might have given it to another man on rent," Elam answered.

"And when I told you that I had no produce to pay you with, what did you think?" the visitor asked.

"That you had probably not taken out the tithe of the produce. That would have made it impossible to consume." responded the employee.

"But what about when I told you that I had no pillows and sheets?" smiled the employer.

The poor man answered, "I thought you might have offered all your possessions to Heaven."

"Elam you were so right in thinking so" the employer replied, "By the temple (I swear by the service of the Temple) that what you thought was absolutely true. My son Hyrkanos does not study Torah and I promised to offer up all my possessions to disinherit him. But I came to visit some of my friends in the south, and they freed me from my promise.
Not everyone would have given me the benefit of the doubt such as you did. I hope HaShem judges you well for your conduct."

Whoever treats his fellow member generously will also be judged in the same way.


~ from Shabbat 127b

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