16255Trust in God
- Jul 1, 2008This is a story from the Talmud. Enjoy!
Trust in God.
Rabbi Jochanan, the son of Levi, fasted and
prayed to the Lord that he might be permitted
to gaze on the angel Elijah, he who had ascended
alive to heaven. God granted his prayer, and
in the semblance of a man Elijah appeared before him.
"Let me journey with thee in thy travels
through the world," prayed the Rabbi to Elijah;
"let me observe thy doings, and gain in wisdom
"Nay," answered Elijah; "my actions thou couldst
not understand; my doings would trouble thee,
being beyond thy comprehension."
But still the Rabbi entreated:
"I will neither trouble nor question thee," he said;
"only let me accompany thee on thy way."
"Come, then," said Elijah; "but let thy tongue
be mute. With thy first question, thy first
expression of astonishment, we must part company."
So the two journeyed through the world together.
They approached the house of a poor man, whose only
treasure and means of support was a cow. As they
came near, the man and his wife hastened to meet
them, begged them to enter their cot, and eat and
drink of the best they could afford, and to pass the
night under their roof. This they did, receiving
every attention from their poor but hospitable host
and hostess. In the morning Elijah rose up early and
prayed to God, and when he had finished his prayer,
behold the cow belonging to the poor people dropped
dead. Then the travellers continued on their journey.
Much was Rabbi Jochanan perplexed. "Not only did we
neglect to pay them for their hospitality and generous
services, but his cow we have killed;" and he said to
Elijah, "Why didst thou kill the cow of this
good man, who-----"
"Peace," interrupted Elijah; "hear, see, and be silent!
If I answer thy questions we must part."
And they continued on their way together.
Towards evening they arrived at a large and imposing
mansion, the residence of a haughty and wealthy man.
They were coldly received; a piece of bread and a
glass of water were placed before them, but the
master of the house did not welcome or speak to them,
and they remained there during the night unnoticed.
In the morning Elijah remarked that a wall of the
house required repairing, and sending for a carpenter,
he himself paid the money for the repair, as a return,
he said, for the hospitality they had received.
Again was Rabbi Jochanan filled with wonder, but he
said naught, and they proceeded on their journey.
As the shades of night were falling they entered
a city which contained a large and imposing
synagogue. As it was the time of the evening
service they entered and were much pleased with
the rich adornments, the velvet cushions, and gilded
carvings of the interior. After the completion of
the service, Elijah arose and called out aloud,
"Who is here willing to feed and lodge two poor men
this night?" none answered, and no respect was
shown to the travelling strangers. In the morning,
however, Elijah re-entered the synagogue, and
shaking its members by the hands, he said, "I hope
that you may all become presidents."
Next evening the two entered another city, when
the Shamas (sexton) of the synagogue, came to meet
them, and notifying the members of his congregation
of the coming of two strangers, the best hotel
of the place was opened to them, and all vied in
showing them attention and honour.
In the morning, on parting with them, Elijah said,
"May the Lord appoint over you but one president."
Jochanan could resist his curiosity no longer.
"Tell me," said he to Elijah, "tell me the meaning
of all these actions which I have witnessed. To those
who have treated us coldly thou hast uttered
good wishes; to those who have been gracious
to us thou hast made no suitable return. Even
though we must part, I pray thee explain to me
the meaning of thy acts."
"Listen," said Elijah, "and learn to trust in God,
even though thou canst not understand His ways.
We first entered the house of the poor man, who
treated us so kindly. Know that it had been decreed
that on that very day his wife should die. I prayed
unto the Lord that the cow might prove a redemption
for her; God granted my prayers, and the woman was
preserved unto her husband. The rich man, whom next
we called up, treated us coldly, and I repaired his
wall. I repaired it without a new foundation, without
digging to the old one. Had he repaired it himself
he would have dug, and thus discovered a treasure
which lies there buried, but which is now for ever
lost to him. To the members of the synagogue who
were inhospitable I said, 'May you all be presidents,'
and where many rule there can be no peace; but to the
others I said, 'May you have but one president;' with
one leader no misunderstanding may arise. Now, if thou
seest the wicked prospering, be not envious; if thou
seest the righteous in poverty and trouble, be not
provoked or doubtful of God's justice. The Lord is
righteous, His judgments all are true; His eyes note
all mankind, and none can say, 'What dost thou?'"
With these words Elijah disappeared, and Jochanan
was left alone.