Yehoshua ben Perachya said; "Always judge other people favorably..." (Avot 1:6)

He saw a whole caravan of donkeys coming his way, loaded with sacks of food and jugs of wine
He saw a whole caravan of donkeys coming his way, loaded with sacks of food and jugs of wine
Once upon a time there was a man, who was so poor that he had to leave his home, and go far away to find a job working on the lands of a very rich landowner. He worked for many years, hoping that some day he would be able to return to his wife and children, and buy a small farm of his own.

The whole time, his employer took care of him, feeding him, and giving him a place to stay, but he did not pay him for his work. Finally after three years, the man went to his employer, and asked to be paid. The wealthy landowner however, pulled a sad face “I’m sorry,” he said, “I have no money to pay you.”

The farm-worker was very surprised. How could that be! The landowner was so rich!

“Maybe you could pay me in fruit, if you don’t have any money,” said the poor man. “ I could take the fruit and sell it.”

“I haven’t any fruit,” said the rich man.

“Then maybe you could give me a field,” said the laborer.

“I don’t have any fields,” said the rich man.

“Then give me your cattle.”

“I have no cattle.”

The worker didn’t know what was going on. “Then pay me with pillows and blankets,” he said. “At least my family will keep warm.”

Again the landowner said, “I can’t. I have none.”

The hired man turned around silently and walked away. After all his hard work, he went home empty-handed.

Still, he did not get angry. “There must be a reason why he didn’t pay me,” the poor man thought. “I am sure he did not mean to cheat me.”

After a long trip home, the man went back to his poor little piece of land.

One day, as he was working, he saw a whole caravan of donkeys coming his way, loaded with sacks of food and jugs of wine. In the lead was his former employer, the rich landowner. The poor farmer ran to greet him, and invited him into his house.

The rich man was very happy. He unloaded all his sacks of food, drink, fruit and sweets for the children. Together the whole family had a wonderful meal.

“All this is just a present for you,” said the landlord.

“Now here are the wages I owe you,” and he took out a big bag of golden coins. “Tell me the truth, what went through your mind, when I said I couldn’t pay you?”

The poor farmer began, “I was very puzzled, and disappointed, but then I thought, you must have had a chance to invest all your money in a great deal, and so you couldn’t pay me.”

“And what did you think when I said I couldn’t even give you fruit?”

The farmer answered, “I thought maybe you hadn’t yet given one-tenth of the harvest for your ma'aser (tithes) and so you couldn’t use it.”

“And when I said I didn’t have a field, then what did you think?”

“I thought you must have hired someone to work in the fields for you this year, and so you couldn’t give them to me until the year was over.”

“And when you asked for cattle, and I said I had none?”

“I thought you must have lent the cattle to someone.”

“And when you asked for blankets and pillows, and even that I did not give you, what did you think?”

“I thought you must have promised to give all your possessions to the Temple in Jerusalem, and so you had nothing left to give me.”

“That is exactly true, to the last detail!” exclaimed the landlord. “And now I am so glad that I can pay you all that you deserve. Believe me, I cannot tell you how troubled I was that I could not pay you on the spot. And now, I don’t know how to thank you enough, for having understood!”