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December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
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The Four Described Deaths


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No one saw him as he approached the gallows and gathered together wood for a pyre directly beneath the gallows. In the midst of the wood he set his sword with the point upwards. He then set a little wall of stones about the wood and climbed up to the gallows. He trembled all over as he suddenly became aware — through the simple words of his uncle — of the magnitude of his evil deeds. “How could I have lived the life I did? I am deserving of not just one — but all four of the prescribed deaths,” he said to himself.

All Four

Putting his head through the noose, he lit the fire below and then plunged to his death by hanging. The fires reared upwards, burning the rope, and breaking it so that the body fell onto the sword and into the fire, sending the stones crashing down on his body.

The people who saw this cried out and at that moment Yosi ben Yoezer fell into a deep sleep. In his sleep he beheld a wonderful vision.

He saw the gates of Gan Eden in all their wonder and through them passing the souls of the great tzaddikim who had passed on. As he lay in his sleep, his face grew radiant and his students who watched knew that he was beholding a wonderful vision.

The First Soul

In his vision, Yosi ben Yoezer suddenly felt his own soul leave his body and rise heavenward. Upward and upward it rose until it was almost at the great gates and was about to enter.

Suddenly, however, another soul, as pure as the day it had been taken and placed on earth came before the gates and he was forced to wait while this soul was allowed entrance first.

As the soul passed into Gan Eden, a heavenly chorus of voices suddenly called out:

“Make Way for Yakum, the holy soul!”

The Awakening

And Yosi awakened and looked at his students:

“Know you that by the actions of a moment, Yakum, my nephew, has preceded me to Gan Eden.

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It’s a special one. Some sort of family heirloom.

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

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Because of this I wandered about and found friends in similar situations who were also unhappy and I began to hang out with them.

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Time passed and Zemira gave birth to a son but not even this could awaken Avinadav from his melancholy.

Yonadav was greatly impressed at the vast sums of money the young man had in his possessions.

“I do nothing worthwhile,” he modestly replied and refused to discuss any of his deeds. For the man was a very modest and humble person.

While he slept, he dreamed of Eliyahu HaNavi, who was trying to awaken him from his sleep.

“I’ll pay you whether you cure her or kill her,” shouted the loyal husband.

He lacked for nothing materialistic and could have lived the rest of his life, had he chosen to, in the luxury and laziness that dominated the Roman upper class life.

When the soldiers heard this they exclaimed happily: “You mean this is the sacred Jewish fruit? Hurry, get on the horse. You are coming with us to the palace.”

Now let me ask you, what would happen to an infantryman if he deserted his regiment and went to serve in the cavalry? He would be court-martialed, wouldn’t he?”

Dug out beneath his bunk was a little chest which he guarded with his very life. It contained a small Sefer Torah, miniature size, but kosher, and a shofar.

So began a marvelous period of good fortune. He invested the twenty-four gold pieces in many types of businesses and everything his hand touched turned to gold.

Pressing close to the cage, the Ibn Ezra shouted the words, “Shema Yisrael…”

“You can have your choice,” said the wise king. “You can choose to take this gold, 100 pieces each, or I can give you each three pieces of advice.”

“It isn’t the work,” said Eliezer. “I want to learn our holy Torah.”

More Articles from Rabbi Sholom Klass
Tales-of-The-Midrash-logo

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

Tales-of-The-Midrash-logo

Because of this I wandered about and found friends in similar situations who were also unhappy and I began to hang out with them.

Time passed and Zemira gave birth to a son but not even this could awaken Avinadav from his melancholy.

Yonadav was greatly impressed at the vast sums of money the young man had in his possessions.

“I do nothing worthwhile,” he modestly replied and refused to discuss any of his deeds. For the man was a very modest and humble person.

While he slept, he dreamed of Eliyahu HaNavi, who was trying to awaken him from his sleep.

“I’ll pay you whether you cure her or kill her,” shouted the loyal husband.

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