Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Flourishing Staff

One day a man who had left the faith of his fathers came to Rabbi Jehuda Ha-Chassid and intimated his ardent wish to do penance, but Rabbi Jehuda grew angry and sent him away.

"As little," he said, "as this staff in my hand will blossom and produce green leaves, can you hope to obtain pardon and forgiveness for your sins." And lo! a few days after this scene the staff in the rabbi's hand began to blossom and produced green leaves! Greatly astonished at this miracle, the pious rabbi sent for the repentant sinner and informed him of the miracle that had happened in his favor.

"Now tell me," continued Rabbi Jehuda, "have you ever rendered any service to your brethren in faith?" The sinner could not recall to his memory any such deed.

"Once only," he added; "I came to a town inhabited by a great number of Jews. They were all in great distress, for they were being accused of a ritual murder, of having assassinated a Christian child with the object of using its blood for ritual purposes. As I was no longer a Jew, but nevertheless acquainted with the religious customs of the Jews, I was chosen as an expert in the matter and was called upon to express my opinion before the court of justice. I could not in honor do otherwise than tell the truth and assure the judges that the use of human blood by the Jews was absolutely impossible and diametrically opposed to all the tenets of their creed, and that the ritual murder was an absurd myth unworthy of credence. Thanks to my arguments and evidence, the persecution of the Jews was stopped."

Thus spoke the repentant sinner, and Rabbi Jehuda no longer wondered at the miracle which had been wrought in his favor.

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