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The Blood Not Lost

The Blood Not Lost

Ethics 4:3

''Only a truly hungry person knows the meaning of bread.''
"Only a truly hungry person knows the meaning of bread."

Ben Azzai used to say: “Do not regard anyone with contempt, and do not reject anything; for there is no man who does not have his hour, and nothing which does not have its place.” (Avot 4:3)

The poor man stood in the doorway, smelling the sweet, freshly baked bread, and held out his hand for something to eat. Hunger gnawed at his stomach, for he had not eaten in days. He had tried to find work, but no one wanted to hire him. At last, hearing that Rabbi Yitzchak of Kalush had an open heart and an open door, he came to his house late one Friday afternoon.

Even before they opened the door, he could smell the fresh baked bread . . .

The cook looked at her challahs, golden baked and twisted, and sprinkled with poppy seeds. The cook did not want to give him a slice from the challahs. They were for Shabbat. She looked in the kitchen cabinets and drawers for an old, stale piece of bread, the kind that is usually given to beggars, but she found none.

“Slice up a loaf,” a man’s voice said, “no blood will be lost because of it.”

And so she cut into the loaf, soft and white, and gave the poor man a thick slice to eat. Unless a person has truly been hungry, he cannot know the meaning of bread. The poor man ate greedily. As he left, a man with kind eyes nodded. He was the one who had told her to cut the bread. The poor man knew that this man had saved his life.

Time passed. The poor man was not a very successful beggar. He did better as a thief. In time, he even became the leader of a band of highwaymen, a whole gang of robbers. With their hideout in the mountains, they would watch the highway for passersby and travelers carrying a fat purse. And after robbing them, as often as not, they would silence their victims for good.

Until, one day, they stopped a certain Jew. With rough shouts they tied him and his driver up, and took his money. Then suddenly, the chief took a second look. Instead of seeing the usual terror in his victim’s eyes, there was a glance of absolute calm, as if some unseen shield was protecting him. And in his eyes was a look a profound kindness.

Suddenly the chief realized he had seen that look before. “Take this!” he said, throwing the purse back into his lap. “Unbind his driver! Let the two of them go!” he commanded his startled men. “I owe this man a debt!”

“Do you remember?” he said to the Jew. “Once a poor beggar came to your door just before your holy day. ‘Give him some bread,’ you said. ‘No blood will be lost because of it.’

“I’ll wager you never dreamed that the blood not lost would be your own! Go in peace, Rabbi Yitzchak of Kalush!”

Courtesy of Tzivos Hashem.
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Feigele Boca Raton FL May 29, 2014

But then again… The Rabbi fed not only a thief but a murder who took many lives. So wouldn’t it have been better not to feed him and let him dye in order to save more lives instead of engendering a murder? Where is justice in all that? Maybe G-d knew of the consequences that will occur and gave the beggar a chance to choose right or wrong, even at the cost of many lives, same chances we are all given at certain times. I wonder how the Rabbi felt after this event knowing that he fed a murder, which made him stronger to go on a rampage to steal and murder? I would not hesitate to feed anyone in need especially food. So I'm not blaming the Rabbi, he did exactly what is humanly expected. Reply

Anonymous May 28, 2014

But if the rabbi hadn't given him bread the man would have died. Wouldn't the world have been a better place had this terrible thief and murderer died of hunger? So many people's lives could have been saved. He who has mercy on the wicked will eventually be wicked to the innocent. Reply

Feigele BR, FL May 18, 2012

This is Life's Challenges! Either you turn right or you turn wrong. It is your conscience that dictates your choice. It is true that people who try hard to stay on the right path more often get materially less than some who uses immoral ways to get what they want, not necessarily what they need, but in the end, whose conscience is at ease. I know a good conscience doesn’t always feed you but it helps you deal better with events in your life. Begging is not working and cannot lead anywhere. It is very sad that he chose to be a thief instead of persevering to look for a job. You can’t condemn such a poor soul whose destiny was to be either a beggar or a thief but you also can’t help thinking that life is very hard for everyone and not everyone is a beggar or thief. Reply

Being good = luck? Brooklyn, New York May 17, 2012

Did G-d want him to become a thief? It seems from the story, that this man was destined to be none other, then a violent thief, and murderer.

He did try and get honest work and came very close to starving to death from those efforts.
Even after his life as saved one time, he still couldn't make it, as either a worker or a beggar.

So what choice, did he have? Reply

Feigele BR, FL May 15, 2012

Some Mitzvot get rewarded A good deed is never lost..
sometime we speak of things to come without knowing it 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.
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