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August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
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The Earthquake (Part I)


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In the days of the Second Beis Hamikdash the Romans ruled over Eretz Yisrael and installed a king by the name of Hordus, or Herod, to enforce their rule. Hordus was an evil and ambitious man, and was quick to do whatever the Romans requested of him, no matter how terrible the decree was. Because of this, the Jewish people hated him, and this in turn caused him to hate them even more.

In Jerusalem there lived a man who was truly righteous and pious. When this man, Yonadav, saw how things were going he went to the evil Hordus and said: “Why must you be hated by the people? Let me suggest if only the king would show kindness and compassion to the people, they would surely follow you faithfully and would love you.”

The king, however, only grew angry and replied, “I do not need your advice on how to lead people. Be gone!”

When Yonadav saw that the king would not change he decided to move his household, for he knew that Hordus would make life miserable for him.

To The Hills Of Lebanon

Since he had land in the foothills of Lebanon, in the north of Eretz Yisrael, Yonadav took his entire family there and began a new life for himself. He continued his wonderful ways of charity and goodness so that when he had enough food for himself and his family, he would take all the rest of his harvest and send it to Jerusalem to be distributed to the poor.

One day Yonadav’s wife took ill and died. Yonadav and his daughter Zemira buried her and mourned for her. At the termination of the days of mourning, the widower built a little rounded tent over the grave and there his daughter would go every day to pour out her heartache to her mother.

The Nazir

One day, as Zemira stood in silent prayer inside the tent, she heard footsteps behind her. Whirling around in fright, she saw a tall young man with long hair falling down to his shoulders. She immediately understood that this was a Nazir who, during his period of vow taking, was forbidden to cut his hair.

“Who are you?” she asked, “and what do you want here?”

“Have mercy on me,” the man answered, “and allow me to hide here. Hordus, the evil one, has sent orders that all the Nazarites are to be killed, and his troops are already in the neighborhood. Allow me to hide here so that my life will be saved.”

Zemira Agrees

When Zemira beheld the young man’s pleading face, she replied: “I will hide you from those who seek your life. Remain here and I will bring you food to eat until it is safe for you to leave.”

Zemira was as good as her word. Each night, for three nights, she brought the hidden Nazir food until the soldiers had left the area. On the final night she brought food for the road, a sack of gold coins and, taking off her gold bracelet, she gave it to the young man saying: “take these and may the Almighty be with you and watch over you.”

“Bless you my maiden,” replied the Nazir, and he slipped away quietly into the night.

Yonadav’s Friend

Yonadav had a very dear friend who resided in the holy city of Hebron, and whom Yonadav had not seen for many, many years. It was a great surprise, therefore, for him to receive a letter from his friend Uzziel.

Opening it, he read:

“My dear friend, I know that you have a daughter who is not only wise but is G-d fearing. I, too, have a child – a son – who walks in the ways of the Torah. If it is proper in your eyes, give your daughter to him to be his wife.

“If you agree, answer me and I will give to my son a wedding dowry worthy of the new couple, and we will to celebrate the wedding and the wedding feast in your home.”

Yonadav Overjoyed

When Yonadav read the letter he was greatly overjoyed and exclaimed: “This is the fulfillment of my dearest wish to have the son of my good friend marry my daughter.”

And so speaking, he sat down to write a letter to his friend Uzziel informing him that he had agreed and looked forward to seeing him once again.

The weeks passed and one day, as Yonadav and Zemira sat on their summer porch eating, one of their servants came up and said: “A man has arrived and he says that he is from Hebron.”

“Quickly, send him up,” said Yonadav, “this must be my good friend Uzziel.”

When the man arrived however, Yonadav saw that he was much younger than Uzziel.

“Peace be unto you,” claimed the stranger. “I am Avinadav, the son of your friend Uzziel.”

“Welcome, dear boy,” replied Yonadav. “Where are your parents?”

“My parents are both dead’” replied Avinadav. “Some time after your letter arrived my father took ill and never recovered, and my mother could not overcome the terrible shock. She, too, took ill and died.”

“Woe to the ears that hear these words,” wailed Yonadav. “I am truly sorry to hear such misfortune. But, grieve no more Avinadav for you have found a second home here with myself and my daughter, who will be your future wife.”

Freeing The Servants

The following morning the young man, Avinadav, called together all the servants he had brought with him and said: “My servants, you have served my father and myself faithfully. Therefore, I am giving you, on this day, your freedom. Go in peace!”

And so saying, he distributed to each of his servants a sack of money and a donkey and sent them on their way.

Yonadav Amazed

When Yonadav saw the actions of his future son-in-law, he was greatly impressed. But he was amazed at the vast sums of money that the young man had in the numerous trunks in his tent.

“I know that your father was a wealthy man insofar that he had many fields, but I had no idea that he had so much money!”

When Avinadav heard these words, a cloud seemed to pass over his countenance. He did not reply and that entire day he ate no food and kept to himself.

Yonadav saw this change in him but he attributed it to the fact that Avinadav still felt sorrow and pain due to his parent’s death.

The Marriage

At the end of the first week of Avinadav’s arrival, Yonadav called together all of his friends and acquaintances and the wedding of the young couple was celebrated with great gaiety.

All through the wedding feast and into the seven days of feasting the cloud of sorrow never left Avinadav. His bride persistently asked him: “What is troubling you, my husband? Tell me and perhaps I can help.”

“Do not ask me,” replied Avinadav, “for there is no one who can help me with my problem.”

(To Be Continued)

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