There was once a talmid chacham, who was pious and humble and spent all of his days in the study of the Torah. One day he prayed to G-d to reveal to him who his partner would be in the World To Come. He fasted many days and offered many prayers until it was revealed to him in a dream that his partner was to be a certain butcher in a distant town.
The scholar was mortified and began to weep bitterly, that he, a learned man, should be destined to be in the company of a mere butcher.
A voice rang out from Heaven, “Were it not that you are a holy and pious person, you would have been condemned to death for your behavior. The deeds of this butcher are unequaled in this world.”
Early the next morning, the chacham traveled to the butcher’s town. Introducing himself, he inquired, “What good deeds do you usually do?”
“Reb Yid,” said the butcher, “you see what manner of work I do. From the proceeds of my daily business, I give half to tzedakkah and with the other half I support myself and my family.”
That can’t be it, thought the chacham, for there are many people who give even more of their daily earnings to charity. “Tell me,” he asked, “have you ever done a great deed?”
The butcher thought for a while and then replied, “There was an incident many years ago. One day while I was occupied in my shop, I heard a tumult on the street. Walking out, I saw a company of soldiers passing through the town and in the midst of them were many captives of war. There was one young girl amongst them who was crying bitterly.
“When I asked why she cried so much she said she came from a very religious home and feared she would be sold to a non-Jew and forced to convert.
“A great pity overwhelmed me and I decided to redeem her. Borrowing and mortgaging myself, I managed to raise the funds to purchase this young girl.
“I then brought this girl home with me, clothed her and gave her all the comforts of life and saw to it that all of her needs were fulfilled.
“A year or two later, I approached my son, who was of marriageable age, and asked him if he would marry this young girl. ‘You would fulfill my fondest wishes and hopes if you agree to this request,’ I told him.
“My son, being a dutiful and wonderful child, agreed to my request. ‘You will never regret it,’ I told him and I was the happiest father in the world.
“I prepared a tremendous wedding feast. I spent my last zlota to make my children happy. I invited the entire town, there was not one person not invited, and the food and wine flowed freely throughout the night.
“However, in one corner of the hall, I noticed a young man whose weeping cast a pall of gloom upon the members of his table. Drawing the young man aside I asked him, ‘My child, why are you crying so, is the food very poor? Do you owe a big debt and can’t pay it? Maybe I can help you.’
“‘It is not that,’ said the young man. ‘It is because of the young girl who is about to be married that I cry,’ explained the young man. ‘She comes from my town and we were engaged to be married. Suddenly, the enemy swooped down upon our town and captured her. For the past few years I have wandered from town to town seeking her and today when I heard of this wedding I came and saw my beloved about to be married to another.’
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