The Boots Made from a Torah Scroll
TOLD BY DVORA FUS
There was a peasant family living in a village. They had three sons and one daughter. Like all the peasants in the village, they cultivated their fields. When a pogrom broke out in the neighboring town and everybody went off to plunder the Jews' property and bodies, the peasant took his three sons along. When he came back home and started to go over his loot, among the items he found a new Torah scroll. He was perfectly aware that this was the Jews' most sacred object. Holding it in his arms, he called over his sons and daughter and told them that he thought he would make boots out of the new parchment. The sons, ruffians just like their father, voiced no objections. But when the daughter heard his plan, she sobbed and begged her father to return it, because one must not make anything out of such holy objects. But they all laughed at her.
When things had quieted down a little in the town, the rebbe there noticed at once that the Torah scroll, which he had been supposed to bring to the synagogue, was missing. He didn't mourn about anything else that had been lost, but he could not stop thinking about the Torah scroll. He fasted and cried and mourned the holy object. When he went to sleep, his heart burdened with his heavy grief, he dreamed that he heard a voice telling him, "Go to the village and take a minyan* of Jews with you. Perhaps you will be able to retrieve the Torah scroll." When he woke up he remembered everything perfectly, even the name of the village and the peasant. At once he assembled a minyan of Jews and set out for the village.
He inquired after the peasant. When they were standing face to face, the rebbe asked him to give back the sacred object. But the peasant also laughed at the rebbe and told him straight out that the best thing would be to make boots out of it. When the rebbe realized that all was lost with the peasant, he pronounced a curse on him—that none of his descendants would live long. Then the rebbe went back home. He soon fell ill and died of sorrow.
*Quorum of ten Jewish men, which constitutes a prayer group.