Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak, the Maggid of Kelme, Lithuania, traveled from town to town to inspire the general public. At each new place, he spent time meandering, mingling with the residents, hearing their questions, identifying their shortcomings, and obtaining a glimpse into their daily struggles, so he could mold his talks to address the most relevant issues in each locale. Time and again he captivated his audiences who found his speeches uniquely relatable.

Once, he arrived in a small town and“There’s not much for you to do here,” he said. immediately began looking for someone to chat with. Noticing the Maggid, one local shook his head.

“There’s not much for you to do here,” he said. “Thank G‑d, this town is brimming with the fear of Heaven and many good things. Your search will lead you nowhere.”

It was the first time the Maggid had heard something like this. He badgered the local, trying to catch a whiff of any substandard conduct that might be going on, but the local remained unfazed, brushing off all the questions by heaping even more praise upon the town.

“Nothing? Not even a single thing?” blurted the Maggid finally. “Surely the town isn’t perfect?”

“Now that you mention it,” said the local slowly. “We do have one small problem. His name is Yankel the Informer. That man is too happy to linger around government officials and often betrays us to ingratiate himself with them. I doubt anything you can say will change his mind; he is a lost cause.”

The Maggid was taken aback by the change in sentiment. “That’s quite unfortunate. But if what you say is true, is there any virtuous quality about Yankel? Even the smallest thing?”

“Yes,” said the local, smiling bitterly. “The man is a man of his word. Whenever Yankel promises something, that promise is guaran–.”

The local suddenly froze, his gaze now directed past the Maggid’s shoulder, all color draining from his cheeks.

“He knows we’re talking about him! Sorry, I must go,” he muttered, sidestepping the Maggid and scurrying away.

The Maggid turned around to see a man walking towards him. Dressed in expensive clothes, with a broad stride that exuded smugness, there was no doubt that this was Yankel.

The Maggid didn’t hesitate.

“Hello there, Reb Yankel,” he called, holding out his hand as he went.

Yankel faltered, a confused look on his face. So much vitriol had been constantly thrown his way, he expected nothing else, much less the honorable title of “Reb.”

“I have a favor to ask of you,” said the Maggid cheerily, ignoring Yankel’s shock. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am a maggid, and it is my job to give speeches in different towns. After I finish, I pass through the crowd and collect a few donations from which I support my family back home. You, as an honored man of the community, can draw a large crowd by simply attending my speech, and perhaps doubling or even tripling the number of donations I expect to receive. So, please, come to my talk this afternoon.”

“I don’t do favors, and I don’t attend speeches,” said Yankel coldly.

But the Maggid wouldn’t take no for an answer. Even though Yankel repeated his refusal many times, he found it impossible to send the Maggid away. His patience began to run thinly.

“Fine,” spat Yankel, exasperated. “I’ll come to your speech.”

The Maggid smiled warmly. “Great. I’m excited because I heard you keep your word quite well. Promise me you’ll come.”

Left with no choice, Yankel assured the Maggid he would attend.

More and more people continued to arrive, steadily increasing the crowd that already exceeded the standing room of the local synagogue. The Maggid looked on from the podium, eyeing the open door frequently. Furious whispers and a sudden ripple passed through the crowd. Every head turned to watch Yankel push his way through the crowd to the front of the synagogue, where he sat down rather huffily. Hateful stares and ogles of disbelief were thrown in his direction.

“All Israel have a share in the World to Come,” began the Maggid loudly, prompting the noise in the crowd to dissipate into eager silence. Over the course of an hour, the Maggid expounded upon this famous Mishnaic teaching, complementing his words with bites of commentary and masterful retellings of stories.

Then he fell quiet. He turned his gaze and peered over the many heads at Yankel, throwing the crowd into confused whispers once more. His voice was clear when he spoke.

“You too, Reb Yankel. Banish the thought that you’re no longer entitled to your place in the World to Come. And if you suspect, rightfully so, that I am speaking nonsense, I hereby offer my share in the afterworld for sale.”

Flushed and uncomfortable, Yankel regarded the Yankel regarded the Maggid in embarrassed silence Maggid in embarrassed silence. The Maggid continued.

“The price, however, is your agreement and permanent cooperation to better your ways. You must discontinue fraternizing with people who hate us and return to your nation’s open, welcoming arms.”

In the moments following the Maggid’s words, one could hear a pin drop. The room held its breath. From his seat, Yankel seemed lost. His eyes were cast into his lap, shoulders slumped and unresponsive, and every now and then, he’d afford a fleeting, doleful glance at the crowd.


Even though Yankel’s answer was barely audible, the Maggid heard. Immediately, he motioned to the town’s judges and asked them to prepare a bill of sale. The transaction consisted of the Maggid’s share in the World to Come, provided Yankel respected it by improving his ways.

Yankel took the bill from the Maggid, hands shaking. The Maggid turned to the crowd and continued his speech, further inspiring all those gathered.

“Remember, Reb Yankel,” finished the Maggid finally. “Remember not to lose your World to Come. This is your chance to begin a new chapter of your life, so please don’t sour this precious opportunity.”

Years passed. Eventually, the Maggid of Kelme happened to be visiting the same town once more. When he asked about Yankel the Informer, his question was met with confusion. “There is no man here with that name,” he was told. Warm joy overcame the Maggid because that’s when he learned that the transaction he made so long ago had come to fruition.

Adapted from Sichat Hashavua #737