In his younger years, Reb Pinchas traveled through many towns and cities. He never remained long in one place and when questioned about it, he replied, “I could never find a town that had honest people.”
He then related an incident that occurred to him when he agreed to accept the position of rav in a little hamlet, after having been told all the inhabitants of the town were pious and honest people.
One day, late Friday afternoon, a frum traveler arrived in town. He rented a room in the town’s only hotel to stay in for Shabbos. He had a large sum of money and was afraid to entrust it to the hotelkeeper for safekeeping. He set out for the home of the rav, and asked him, as a matter of kindness to a stranger, to keep the money for him until after Shabbos.
While the stranger was discussing this matter with the rav, a number of prominent members of the community were present in the house. In front of all the people, the traveler gave the rav the money and he went away perfectly confident that his treasure was in good hands.
Shabbos soon passed and after havdalah the traveler visited the rav’s house and asked for his money. Imagine his shock and amazement when he heard the rav deny that he had ever received any money from him. As this was a large sum of money, he had no other recourse but to take the rav to beit din.
In response to the summons, the rav appeared in court accompanied by all the prominent people who had been present in his house when the plaintiff deposited the money with him. They all came as witnesses to uphold the claim of their spiritual leader. After being duly sworn in, they testified that they had been in the rav’s house when the plaintiff paid him a visit, and that they were sure that he had not given the rav any money or valuables.
“As a matter of fact,” one of the witnesses testified, “all I recall is that the visitor merely came in to ask where he could find lodging for Shabbos, and our good rav directed him to the hotel. At no time was any money given to our rav.”
As soon as the last witness stepped down, the rav ascended the witness stand and dramatically drew from his pocket a bulky wallet containing the fortune that the traveler claimed.
The dayan was astounded and he asked, “What are you doing?”
“Your Honor,” replied the maggid, “my purpose was to show what dishonest scoundrels the leaders of my town are. They are all thieves and perjurers and I am now tending my resignation as rav of the town.