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Ethics 2:12


Rabbi Jose said: “Let the money of your fellow man be dear to you as your own.” (Avot 2:10)

"So Rabbi Pinchas went out and ploughed his field, and planted the grains of barley from two sacks…"
"So Rabbi Pinchas went out and ploughed his field, and planted the grains of barley from two sacks…"
Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair was a very good man, and although he was poor, everybody respected him for his honesty and his wisdom.

One time two poor men came to town, begging for charity. The people of the town were also poor. They could only afford to give them a little bit of barley, which they could grind up and then bake barley bread.

Finally, the two men decided to try their luck elsewhere.

They had by now two heavy bags of barley. They took the sacks to Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, and asked him if he would please keep the barely for them. “We are going to another town. When we come back, we will pick up the barley from you.”

“Fine,” said Rabbi Pinchas. He was glad to be of help.

But the two men did not do well in the next town either. So they traveled to a third town, and then to a fourth. They forgot all about their barley.

Rabbi Pinchas waited and waited, but the men did not return. After a year, he said, “If I leave the barley any longer it will spoil, or mice will eat it up. When these poor fellows return, there will be nothing left.”

So Rabbi Pinchas went out and ploughed his field, and planted the grains of barley from the two sacks. Rains came. The seeds sprouted up and as the months passed, they grew into beautiful stalks of barley. When they were all ripe, Rabbi Pinchas harvested the crop and stored it in bigger sacks, for now there was much more grain than the two men had collected. Then he put the grain away.

But the men still did not return. So once again, Rabbi Pinchas sowed the seeds and harvested the grain. This time there was an even bigger crop than before.

Every year, Rabbi Pinchas plowed, sowed, and harvested the grain. Finally he had to build a large storehouse to hold all the barley he had grown.

Seven years passed. By chance, the two poor men happened to return to Rabbi Pinchas’ town. One of them remembered that long ago they had left some barley at the house of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair.

They decided to see if it was still any good.

“Hello, Rabbi Pinchas,” they said. “Do you remember us? We left some bags of barley with you years ago. We apologize. We forgot all about it. We have had such a hard time. Is there still anything left?”

Rabbi Pinchas remembered the poor men. He felt sorry for them. “Come with me,” he said. “I will return your grain to you.

“But you will not be able to carry it yourselves. You will need many donkeys and camels to take it all away.”

Then he showed them the storage house bursting with grain. “All this came from your two bags of barley.

He gave them all the grain, and did not ask a penny for his seven years of hard work. The men were so grateful. They were able to sell the grain. With the money they opened a regular business, and they never had to beg for charity again.

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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sp4rrowh4wk Denver, USA June 8, 2009

Thank you so much for these stories. This one and 'Sea Journey' are my favorites from chap. 2. Thank you again. Reply

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.