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