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The Miser’s Slippers

The Miser’s Slippers


In a town lived a very rich miser. Every time the local rabbi came to his door to collect funds for the poor, the miser would invite the rabbi in, offer the rabbi a glass of tea and talk about his business. When the rabbi started talking about the plight of the poor people in the winter, the miser would brush him off and tell him that poor people like to complain—it wasn’t all as bad as the rabbi thought. In any case, he had no cash in the house at the moment, and couldn’t give anything right now. Could the rabbi come back another time? The miser would then escort the rabbi to the door, go back to his warm and comfortable room and settle down in his favorite chair near the fireplace, very pleased with himself.

But the rabbi was not pleased. The poor had no money for food or for wood for their stoves, and they were cold and hungry.

One evening the rabbi knocked on the rich miser’s door. It was a cold and miserable night; snow and sleet blew through the deserted streets. The miser asked the rabbi in, as usual. But the rabbi refused. “No,” he said, “I won’t be long.” And then he inquired after the miser’s health and after the health of his family, and asked him about his business, and spoke about the affairs of the community for a long time. The miser could not send the rabbi away, of course; he had opened the door for him himself. But he was getting quite uncomfortable. He had come to the door in his slippers and skullcap, dressed in a thin shirt and his house pants. The rabbi, wearing a warm coat with a fur lining, his biggest shtreimel covering his ears and heavy winter boots encasing his feet and legs, talked on and on. No, he didn’t want to come in. No, really, he was on his way. The miser’s toes became ice and stone.

Suddenly the miser understood. “Oh, Rabbi!” he cried. “Those poor people with no warm clothes or firewood for winter . . . I never knew. I never imagined it could be like this. This is miserable. It is horrible. I never knew, honestly! Something must be done!” He went into the house and returned with a purse full of gold coins. He wanted to go back to his fireplace as soon as he could. He needed hot tea. The rabbi thanked him and took the money. He too was cold after that long talk, but he didn’t mind. The poor people would have a good winter this year.

The miser changed his ways that night. He became a regular contributor to the rabbi’s funds for the poor, for poor brides, for poor students, for Passover money and for many other causes. He had learned a good lesson that night.

Text and image by chassidic artist Shoshannah Brombacher. To view or purchase Ms. Brombacher's art, click here.
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Y. Goldstein ny March 31, 2016

new title I read this story for my class and they loved it!

one comment, they all thought that the title doesn't fit the story well. so the whole class brainstormed of different ideas. the best one was, "Snow and Sleet and Frozen Feet":)

If you will use this one we will all be delighted! Reply

Fro March 11, 2016

Clever method of teaching the miser by the Rabbi which benefited the poor people. 😊. thank you for sharing. Reply

Anonymous Portsmouth Va March 9, 2016

And the poor in winter? Perhaps cannot have them in, but... I work on a construction site, and it can be miserable cold. So every winter, I end up buying a hundred dollars or so worth of 12-hour heat packs at Walmart in the camping section, for about fifty cents a pack. Even those begging who turn down food, are often willing to take a heat pack. And sometimes I too am glad for them... Reply

myrna solganick middleton March 8, 2016

It's true it is often hard to understand others unless one experiences the other's reality. On the other hand: does one have to be hit over the head with a frying pan to know it hurts? Reply

stephanie Oxford October 14, 2015

Eric S Kingston...I just love it ...It's what turns life inside out and leaves you laughing
at yourself as well.... It pulls us in there alongside you...Well done Eric...Stephanie from Oxford u.k Reply

david new zealand November 29, 2014

The point is well made in this story: that it is hard to understand others unless we have put ourselves in their shoes. There are a myriad of ideas stemming from this: associate with many sorts of different people; think about others rather than our own agenda; take the trouble to observe and listen to others; don't judge.

All this is pure Judaism and why I love Chabad- because these are the ideas they put into practice. Reply

Anonymous Baltimore November 24, 2014

Nothing learned I think the demise of Wall Street, the subsequent misery it caused and the continued lining of the pockets of the uber wealthy on Wall Street and beyond, the further, steady decline of the already poor and nouveau poor shows that really most haven't leaned anything. Nice story though. Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, MI USA via June 5, 2008

I can believe Eric's story has a lesson for all donors of services. Though Avraham was known for his hospitality perhaps the guest treated him so badly that even Avraham had to demonstrate that he is not a doormat, and so we learn that just because we are giving or acting as a servant we are not to give up our own dignity.

The miser story also tells me the rabbi understood a major teaching strategy. Some people learn by seeing, some by hearing, and others only by doing, It is the teacher's job to connect with the student on the student's level, or method of learning. It is makes a lot more work for a teacher to reach all three kinds of students, but the rewards of seeing all one's students progress have to be fantastic. (No, I am not a teacher.) Reply

Shoshannah Brooklyn, NY March 23, 2008

To Shlomo: oh yes, this is a very Jewish story, trust me. Go live in a jewish neighborhood or town, or even a community, and you will hear similar things...To Yehonasan: that might be so, but it has nothing to do with this story Reply

Yehonosan Ny, NY March 22, 2008

YOU are Right it isnt! Avraham (Abraham) knew that practically all his guests were idol worshipers. He even had them wash their feet as many of them worshipped the dust.
The story is definitely not with Avraham Reply

mendy November 11, 2005

Abraham and fire worshiper a Jewish story? definitly not chabad... Reply

shlomo November 10, 2005

It doesn't sound Jewish at all to me Reply

Lee los angeles, ca November 9, 2005

Abraham and fire worshiper a Jewish story? Eric S tells a story I don't believe is Jewish. Can you verify this? It doesn't sound like Abraham and his legendary hospitality. Perhaps it's a Muslim story? Reply

Eric S. Kingston CA November 6, 2005

Perspective There are lessons for all of us in this story to widen our perspective. Just as in the story of Abraham, when Abraham invited a stranger into his home for a meal, and then, finding out the stranger was a fire worshipper, threw the man out. That night G-d appeared to Abraham in a dream and said, "Abraham, I have had to bear that ignorant man for seventy years! Couldn't you have suffered him for just one night!" Reply

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