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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777
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The Earthquake (Part II)

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No matter what Zemira said and how much she implored Avinadav to tell her what was bothering him, he remained adamant in his silence.

If anything, his depression and sadness seemed to grow with every passing day. He began to fast three times a week and he gave generously of his money to every poor man who passed by. He would go about ransoming slaves from their masters, and spend all day in prayer and meditation.

Yonadav, his father-in-law, who saw all this, told his daughter: “Be comforted my daughter, for the Almighty has given you a husband whose charity and goodness are unbelievably great.”

The Soldiers

Thus, time passed and Zemira gave birth to a son, but not even this could awaken Avinadav from his melancholy sadness. Then, one night, as the entire family sat eating their bread, one of the servants burst into the room and cried out: “A band of armed soldiers has suddenly appeared and they have surrounded the master’s house!”

The family members leaped to their feet in amazement, but even as they did the door burst open and the captain of the soldiers with ten armed men stormed into the room.

A Terrible Blow

“What is the meaning of this?” demanded Yonadav.

I have been ordered by the king to seize your son-in-law, dead or alive, for he is a condemned man.”

“Are you out of your mind?” exclaimed Yonadav. “My son-in-law is known as the kindest and most charitable of men.”

To his amazement, however, no sooner had he finished speaking when Avinadav stepped quietly forward and said to the captain of the guards: “I am indeed the man for whom you have been searching.” And he thrust forward his arms to have the chains tied about them.

The shock was too much for Zemira she fainted.

“Allow me, I beg you, before I am taken away to at least kiss my son for the last time,” begged Avinadav.

“Go kiss your son,” replied the captain, “I too am a father and I understand how you feel.”

With tears streaming down his face, Avinadav kissed the infant son he was destined never to see again, and all who saw the heartbreaking scene could not restrain themselves and wept bitterly.

The soldiers took Avinadav to the waiting wagon and on to the capital city of Jerusalem, where he was placed in the dungeons of the king to await his execution.

What Was His Sin?

The following morning Yonadav set out for Jerusalem to find out the crime that his son-in-law was charged with, and to see what he could do for him.

IN the courtyard of the king he was told, “The sins and crimes with which your son-in-law is charged are indeed very grave. He has been linked with robbers and murderers for many years, and we will bring him before the court, where he will be sentenced to be hung from the highest tree.

Yonadav Returns Home

Yonadav was stricken at these words and his soul felt mortified as he thought that he allowed his daughter to marry such a man. Hurrying home he told his daughter: “My daughter, forget this man and drive his memory from your heart. Forget that you ever knew him for he is unworthy of you.”

Zemira, however, would not listen to her father and she answered him saying: “Do not speak thusly father. I cannot believe that the wonderful, kind and gentle man who I married could ever have done the terrible things of which he has been accused. Until I hear it from his own lips, I say all the charges that have been lodged against him are false.

“I intend to take my child with me and go before the king in Jerusalem to ask him for mercy for my beloved husband.”

When Yonadov heard this he collapsed in great despair. Nothing that the doctors could do was of any avail and he died.

Zemira Goes To Jerusalem

When the days of mourning for her father had come to an end, Zemira took her child an set out on the long journey to Jerusalem.

After many days she finally arrived in the Jewish capital – on the holiday of Sukkos. As she walked about the streets, she could see thousands upon thousands of Jews from all parts of Israel, who had come to celebrate the festival in the beautiful Holy Temple. Their faces were smiling, and joy filled the streets. Only Zemira’s heart was heavy and tears streamed down her face as she walked.

A Stranger Aids Her

As she walked, a stranger noticed her tears. Approaching her, he asked: “Why do you cry, young woman?”

Zemira poured out her heart to the man telling him of all her troubles and her plan to see the king and ask him to pardon her husband.

The stranger shook his head slowly and said: “Do not think that it is so simple to see the king. He has many officials that will not permit you to bother him. I suggest that you wait until the time for the Simchas Beis Hashoayva. At that time the king comes in his carriage to celebrate before G-d.

“When his carriage pulls into view, throw yourself in front of the carriage. When it stops, approach him and tell him what your troubles are.”

Zemira thanked the kindly stranger and agreed to do as he suggested.

The Day Arrives

The day of the great celebration finally arrived. The path along which the king would ride was carefully strewn with red carpet and flowers. Decorated posts lined the highway and the houses that overlooked the route were jammed with people at the windows seeking a glimpse of the king.

Zemira had arisen early in order to be near the route along which the king would come. As she waited nervously, she heard a great roar come from the crowd down the road and she knew that her moment was at hand.

Rushing out into the road with her little child in her arms, she threw herself before the horses that pulled the king’s carriage. The driver, seeing the woman jump into his path, hastily reined the horses to a halt.

The king leaned out and saw the unfortunate woman lying on the ground. Leaping from the carriage, he knelt by her side and asked: “What is the matter my daughter?”

(To be continued)

Rabbi Sholom Klass

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