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“If that is a Sage,” exclaimed the man, “may there not be many more like him in Israel!”

People Shocked

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The people were shocked and angry.

“What do you mean? Why do you say such a terrible thing about a great sage in Israel?”

The man, thereupon, told them the whole story about how he had greeted Rabi Elazar and how the sage had shamed him.

“This is why I said what I did.”

The people, however, said to him:

“We understand why you said what you did but despite that, forgive him for he is a great man of Torah.”

The man thought for a while and finally relented.

“Very well. For your sakes I relent and will forgive him. But I insist on one condition that he never accustom himself to do such a thing again.”

Rabi Elazar immediately entered the Beis Midrash and spoke these words:

“At all times shall a man be as soft as a reed and let him not be as hard as a cedar.”

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