Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: LUST (all-consuming desire; excessive craving) (01/08/15)
TITLE: The Mitzvah Miser
By Rosey Mucklestone
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Whenever there was anything that needed to be done in town: widows in need, starving orphans, poor newlyweds needing money to start their life, Yitzhak pounced on it so fast, no one else ever had a chance.
For those also attempting to accumulate heavenly treasure, this was extremely annoying. But no one could stay mad at Yitzhak for long. Being friendly and kind to people who didn’t like you, was yet another mitzvah Yitzhak excelled at.
Of course, he was only one man. His pockets were not always full, he got sick himself sometimes and he could not be everywhere at once. So though Yitzhak got the bulk of the good deeds to be had, the small ones had to be taken by someone else occasionally. Though it grieved him, Yitzhak resigned to the fact that he couldn’t do them all.
That is, until Reuven moved into town.
It was mid-afternoon and Yitzhak had just gotten the word that a poor widow’s rent was due and she was $150 dollars short. He smiled widely,
“Baruch Hashem!” he exclaimed, stuffing his wallet in his pocket. He pulled on his coat, slipped on his old shoes and ran out the door. The widow was a little over a block from his house and Yitzhak ran all the way. Breathing hard, he stopped in front of the yard of the small house. He walked up the path, rapped on the door and stepped inside as the widow opened the door.
“Yitzhak!” she exclaimed, “What brings you here?”
“Shalom, Mrs. Stern!” He smiled, tipping his hat, “I was just walking by and remembered something. I owed your husband money from a few years back and never got a chance to give it to him. Oy, I’m so forgetful. Thought I might give it to you now.”
He withdrew his wallet from his pocket and put the handful of bills into Mrs. Stern’s small hands. Her eyes widened and a smile spread across her face.
“Bless Hashem! I was praying for this!” Yitzhak smiled,
“Hashem must have planned it this way, then.” Mrs. Stern tipped her head to one side,
“Funny, though. My husband must have been involved in some business he hadn’t told me about. Another man came by not ten minutes ago and said the exact same thing. Reuven, I believe.” Yitzhak was visibly shaken,
“W-well, yes. Your husband was a very generous man. Good day, Mrs. Stern.” He rushed out the door and started the walk back to his home, trying to puzzle out what this meant.
Someone beat me to a mitzvah. No one ever has. He even used my line! But, Reuven? I know everyone in this town and I don’t know any Reuvens…
Stroking his beard absently, Yitzhak walked the steps up to his apartment.
If it’s someone new in town, I must fulfill the mitzvah of welcoming him as soon as possible. How is it that I haven’t heard this?
He was so lost in thought that he almost bumped into a young man who was standing right in front of his door.
“Oy!” Yitzhak jumped back in surprise, but the young man just smiled, took Yitzhak’s hand and shook it heartily.
“Yitzhak Meir? I’m overjoyed to meet you! My name is Reuven Goldberg and I just moved in down the block.”
“G-good to meet you too, Reuven. Shalom. And may I be the first to welcome you into town.” Reuven laughed,
“There you go again: another mitzvah!” He smiled widely, “If you were to agree, I would love to become your student and learn more about how to fulfill more mitzvot.” Yitzhak was stunned and just stared at the eager young man, unable to find his tongue. Reuven took deep a breath,
“Rav, an all-consuming desire for obedience to Hashem is what I strive towards. Would you allow me to become your student?” Yitzhak smiled slowly,
“You strive towards the same thing as I do, Reuven, maybe we can help each other out. Better than fighting over the mitzvot, eh? Now we can be a team. At least one of us can have money or be well at any given time.”
Reuven chuckled, “Amen. Thank you so much, Rabbi. When do I start?”
“Right now,” Yitzhak shuffled him inside, mentally checking off the mitzvah of taking in a student.
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