No matter what Zemira said and how much she implored Avinadav to tell her what was bothering him, he remained silent. If anything, his depression and sadness seemed to grow with each 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 saw all this and told his daughter: “Be comforted, my daughter, for the Almighty has given you a husband whose charity and goodness are unbelievably great.”
Time passed and Zemira gave birth to a son but not even this could awaken Avinadav from his melancholy. Then, one night, as the entire family sat eating, 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 leaped to its feet in amazement, as the door burst open and ten armed men stormed into the room.
A Terrible Blow
“What is the meaning of this?” demanded Yonadav.
“We 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.”
However, Avinadav stepped quietly forward and said, “I am indeed the man you have been searching for,” and thrust his arms forward to have the chains tied around them.
At that moment Zemira 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 his infant son and all who saw the heartbreaking scene wept bitterly themselves.
The soldiers took him to Jerusalem and placed in the dungeons of the king’s palace, where he was to await his execution.
What Was His Sin?
The following morning, Yonadav set out for Jerusalem to find out what crime his son-in-law was charged with.
Arriving at 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
Hurrying home, he told his 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, for I cannot believe that the wonderful, kind and gentle man whom I married could have ever 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 am taking my child with me and going before the king in Jerusalem to ask him for mercy for my beloved husband.”
Yonadav was overwhelmed with grief and collapsed. Nothing the doctors could do was of any avail and he soon passed away.
Zemira Goes To Jerusalem
When the days of mourning for her father had come to an end, Zemira put her resolution into practice. Taking her child, she set off on the long journey to Jerusalem.
After many days she finally arrived in the Jewish capital on 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 Beis HaMikdash. Their faces were laughing and joy filled the streets, and only Zemira’s heart was heavy and tears streamed down her face.