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The Honest Blacksmith

The Honest Blacksmith

Ethics 2:1

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Rebbi (Yehuda HaNasi) said; “Which is the right path that a person should choose for himself? That which is honorable for him to do, and which brings him honor from others. Be as careful about a little mitzvah, as a big one, for you do not know the reward of mitzvot…” (Avot 2:1)

"All day long he would stand by his forge, hammering the red-hot iron."
"All day long he would stand by his forge, hammering the red-hot iron."
Eliezer Reuven was a blacksmith who lived in the Russian town of Dobromysl.

All day long he would stand by his forge, hammering the red-hot iron. He was honest and hard-working, and all the non-Jewish peasants who lived in the nearby villages respected him.

If their horses needed shoeing, they would bring them to the reliable blacksmith. If they needed a new axe, or their plough got broken, or the wheel on their wagon needed to be fixed, Eliezer Reuven was the best one to set things right.

One day, a peasant brought in his horse to get four new shoes, and at the same time another peasant brought in his wagon for repair. Then he too decided to have his horse shoed while he was there. Since the two jobs were very similar, Eliezer Reuven accidentally mixed up the amounts each man owed, so that one man paid too much, and the other too little. The difference between the two jobs, however, was only six groshen, a very small amount. (The groshen was the smallest coin people used in those days.)

By the time Eliezer Reuven realized his mistake, both peasants had already gone home. The honest smith was so upset that he closed his shop, and set off on foot to refund the peasant’s money.

It was a hot summer’s day, and the village was three miles off.

“I can’t believe it!” a friend of Eliezer Reuven exclaimed. “You closed your shop and walked six miles in this heat just to return a few groshen! Why did you do that?”

“What do you expect?” Eliezer Reuven replied, “at the time of Noah’s flood, people were so wicked that they would rob anyone of anything — even if it was worth less than a penny! Do you want me to be so much worse than they were, and rob a man of six whole groshen?”

Based on a memoir by the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn; translated/ adapted by Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles.
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.