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The Raindrops Bear Witness

The Raindrops Bear Witness

Ethics 2:6

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Once Hillel saw a skull floating on the surface of the water. He said to it, “Since you drowned others, you were drowned. And in the end, those who drowned you will also drown.” (Avot 2:6)

"Since you drowned others, you were drowned"
"Since you drowned others, you were drowned"
Once two men were traveling together from town to town doing business. One rainy day they found themselves all alone in a deserted mountain area. One of the men was very greedy and jealous. He decided that this was an excellent chance to murder his companion and steal all his money.

“Please don’t kill me,” the poor man said. “Think of my family, my children.” Seeing that his words had no effect at all, he cried out, “If you kill me, you will not get away with it. G‑d will avenge my death!”

“Fool!” cried the villain. “Who will see? Who will know! Who will say that I did it?”

The bound man was desperate. “These raindrops will be my witness,” he cried. “They will pay you for your crime!”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! That’s nonsense!” the man laughed heartlessly. He robbed and killed his companion, and threw his body into a ravine, where no one would ever find it. Three days later he came to a town. As he walked about it began to rain very hard. Together with some others, the murderer took shelter under a roof. Standing there, watching the rain fall, he remembered the desperate words of his companion, that the raindrops would avenge his death.

“Ha,” he laughed out loud. “What a crazy idea!”

Just as he burst out laughing, the king of that city happened to pass by. When the king heard this fellow laughing, he suddenly stopped.

“Did he recognize me?” he said to himself. “Is that why he is laughing?”

“Guards! Seize that man!”

“Your excellency,” cried the newcomer. “What is my crime? Why do you want to kill me?”

“Why did you laugh as I passed by?” the king demanded. “No one laughs without a reason. I’m sure you were laughing at me! That is a serious offense.”

“No, no, Your Majesty,” pleaded the man. “I had no idea it was you. I was never in this town before today. I laughed for a different reason.”

“I don’t believe you,” said the king. “Either tell me the reason you laughed, or I will have you executed now!”

Realizing that he had no choice, the murderer told the terrible story about how he had killed his partner in the mountains. “When I saw the raindrops, I remembered his last words, and began to laugh at how wild the idea was, that the raindrops would bear witness against me. That is why I laughed.”

The king turned to his followers. “Do you see how great is G‑d?!” he exclaimed. “He deals with each person measure for measure. See how He arranged for the raindrops to expose this wicked murderer.”

The king demanded to know the address of the man who was murdered, and made sure to send all the money to his widow. Then the murderer was executed.

As the Mishnah teaches, “Since you drowned others, you were drowned.”

Courtesy of Tzivos Hashem and the archives of The Moshiach Times children's magazine. If you would like to subscribe to The Moshiach Times, click here to contact Tzivos Hashem.
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Ethics of the Fathers is a tractate of the Mishna that details the Torah's views on ethics and interpersonal relationships. Enjoy insights, audio classes and stories on these fascinating topics.