Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

31
The Gentile Who Wanted
to Screw the Jew

TOLD BY HINDA SHEINFERBER TO HADARAH SELA

Every village has a tavern run by a Jew. All over Poland there are villages with a tavern run by a Jew. The tavern serves food and drink.

Once a gentile came and asked the Jew to let him have a glass of arrack* on credit. He was going to sell his cow in town and would come back with the money and pay for the drink.

"You're going to sell the cow?" asked the tavern keeper. "I'll buy it." So he bought it and paid for it.

The next day, the gentile went to the priest and told him that his cow had been stolen. It was missing. The whole village went looking for it and found the cow with the Jew. There was a big commotion because the Jew had stolen this gentile's cow. They arrested him and held a big trial.

If there's a trial you have to hire a lawyer. There was a really big lawyer who defended only royalty and important people. He never came for an ordinary trial. But if there was some kind of blood libel against a Jew, then he would appear without a fee.

They brought this lawyer, but he couldn't save the man. The man was found guilty, and the sentence was that he would be sent to prison in Russia for many years.

"His wife will have to move to the city," the lawyer told the judges. "If he is sent to prison in Russia, she won't be able to keep the tavern, and she'll have to move to the city. Can everyone here please give something and help her out?"

Everyone took out a bank note and handed it to the lawyer. When the lawyer reached the man who said his cow had been stolen, the man took out a banknote. The lawyer had been looking at every banknote to make

*Brandy of the Near East; term used in Israel by people from countries of Islam. It is of interest that
the narrator, who is from Poland, used the term arrack rather than one of the Yiddish words for
brandy, such as konyak or "vishniak" (cherry brandy).

-236-

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