One Friday afternoon a man knocked on the door of Rabbi Yizchak Aizik, rabbi of Vitebsk. “Rabbi, I have a din Torah (a matter of litigation),” he said. “I request that you hear my case and hand down a ruling.”

“The truth is,” said the rabbi, “that I’m quite busy now with preparations for Shabbat. Perhaps you and your litigant can come after Shabbat, and I’ll hear you both out.”

“I’m a melamed (teacher),” said the man, “who teaches children from morning to night. The only time I’m free is on Friday afternoons.”

“Very well,” said Rabbi Yizchak Aizik, “I’ll hear your case now. But we must summon your litigant. It is forbidden for me to hear your arguments without his being present.”

“He is present,” said the man. “My din Torah is with G‑d.”

“Okay,” said Rabbi Yizchak Aizik, after a long pause. “Come into the beit din1 and I’ll hear your case.”

Said the melamed: “G‑d has blessed me with a daughter, who has now reached marriageable age. But I have not a kopek in my pocket—no money for clothes or wedding expenses, much less a dowry. My claim is that G‑d is legally obligated to provide for my daughter’s wedding.”

“What is your basis for such a claim?” asked Rabbi Yitzchak Aizik.

“The Torah states, ‘There are three partners to a person: his father, mother and G‑d.’2 Two of the partners are paupers, but the third partner is, by His own attestation, quite wealthy: does He not declare, ‘Mine is the silver, Mine is the gold’3? It is therefore the duty of the rich partner to assume the expenditures of our joint endeavor.”

The rabbi retreated to his study to check the relevant sources and ponder the case. After a while, he emerged with his verdict. “The melamed is in the right,” he declared. “The Almighty is duty-bound, by Torah law, to provide for the young woman’s marriage.”

When the melamed neared home, he saw a luxurious coach pulling away from his dilapidated hut. “You won’t believe what just happened,” said his wife, the moment he came through the door. “Some nobleman was here with his wife. The lady has it in her mind that someone has given her the evil eye, and heard that the melamed’s wife knows the proper charms to ward it off. I did as she asked, and when the nobleman asked me how much he should pay me, I named the sum we need for the dowry and wedding expenses. Without a word, the man put the money on the table and left.”