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The Earthquake (Conclusion)

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“Leave me Zemira,” cried Raamyah, “I have shamed you and your family. I have deceived my child whom I love so much. Turn your back on me for I can offer you only tragedy and unhappiness.”

“ Never!” cried the unhappy Zemira. “I will never forsake you and I forbid you to talk this way. Never say to yourself that hope is lost. Have not our Sages taught, ‘Though a sharp sword rest on the neck of a man, he shall not lose hope but look forward to the mercies of the Almighty’?”

Raamyah Gains Hope

Listening to his wife speak the prisoner took heart once again and for the first time since becoming a prisoner, his eyes lit up.

“If only I knew that Uzziel and his father whom I sold into slavery were still alive, I would flee this prison, and run to them to ask their forgiveness and free them from their slavery. I would then serve them forever.”

“If only some miracle would come about and allow you to be free of this prison, I would go with you and be a maid-servant with you.”

Just as she spoke these words, the door of the dungeon was opened and a guard walked in and said to Zemira, “you must go now for the time for your husband’s execution draws near.”

The Cry

As Zemira heard these words she let out such a terrible cry that the very earth shook. Such a cry had never been heard before as it came from the depths of the soul. The ground trembled beneath their feet and the walls of the building came crashing down. The city was suffering an earthquake.

The guards fled in panic fearing that the end of the world had come, and Zemira and Raamyah were left alone, free from the walls that had enclosed them.

“Look Zemira,” cried her husband, “the walls of the prison are down. Now is our opportunity to flee and find the two poor souls whom I had sold so unjustly.”

They Flee

Since they knew the area around Lebanon well, they decided to flee there. For three days and nights they traveled, fearful of pursuit. No one followed them however, because of the great fear that the earthquake had placed in their souls. For the quake had not only leveled the prison, but, it had caused havoc throughout the land of Israel.

Thus, Raamyah and Zemira were able to reach the hills of Lebanon in safety. There they encountered a former slave whom Raamyah had ransomed and given his freedom.

The man was overjoyed to see his benefactor and gave them food and water besides shelter and safety.

“Years ago you aided me when I was a poor slave. Now, ask of me what you will and I will be only too glad to aid you.”

“I thank you for your kind words,” replied Raamyah, “but there is only one thing I desire now. If only there was someway for me to discover the whereabouts of Uzziel and his father from Hebron whom I sold as slaves, I would ask nothing else.”

News Of The Slaves

When the former slave heard this, he replied, “there are two servants in this household who have recently come from the land of the Pilishtim. Perhaps they will know where these people whom you seek are located.”

“Please ask them,” pleaded Zemira.

When the two servants were brought in and asked if they know the whereabouts of the two people, one of them shook his head, but the other said, “I believe that the two people whom you seek are slaves in the city of Gahs.”

Zemira Sells Her Property

Hearing this Zemira wasted no time. She realized that if they found the two unfortunates, they would need money in order to ransom them. She sold her father’s property and prepared to go with her husband to the city of Gahs in the land of the Pilishtim.

For many days they traveled until they reached the city. They did not tell the slaves who they were but went directly to the owner and said, “we wish to buy the two slaves that you have here.”

The owner seeing how anxious they were, decided that he would be able make a large profit on the transaction and said, “very well, but the price will be 10,000 shekalim.”

Zemira gasped when she heard this outlandish figure. However, she never hesitated. Taking out her bag of gold she began counting out the money demanded.

Alas, when all the money was counted, they were 70 silver shekalim short. “What shall we do?” cried Zemira. “He is a hard-hearted man. He will not take a peruta less than the full price that he has set.”

Raamyah Decided

There is only one answer,” declared Raamyah. “I will sell myself as a slave to raise the rest of the money.”

And so he did. For a year and three months he worked as a slave in order to raise the final amount of money needed to ransom Uzziel and his father. At the end of that time he gained his freedom and was free to return to his wife and child.

It was a tearful but happy Zemira who welcomed her husband back. On they went to Jerusalem where Raamyah was no longer recognized. There they found that Raamyah’s father had died and that the property which he possessed belonged to his son.

Raamyah sold the property and, taking all the money, went to Uzziel and his father and weeping before them cried, “I beg of you to take this money. I know that nothing that I do will ever suffice in compensating you for the great evil that I have caused to come upon you.

“Nevertheless, accept this money and try in your heart to forgive me.”

A New Life

Uzziel and his father were so touched by the sincerity of the poor man that they forgave him on the spot. Furthermore, knowing that he was giving them his last penny and would be destitute, they gave him 100 pieces of gold and said, “Take this money and buy yourself a field and house so that you may be able to build a new home for you and your family.”

And thus, a new life began for the couple. Raamyah and Zemira went to a nearby village and bought a small farm on the outskirts. There, Raamyah began to atone for his life of sin by doing charity and raising his son to be a Jew who walked in the path of Torah.

Thus our Sages explained the reason for one of the very few earthquakes to occur in Israel.


Rabbi Sholom Klass

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