Who Has the Right to Benefit from
the Ten Commandments?
TOLD BY MOSHÉ KEREN (EINEHORN)
TO ZALMAN BAHARAV
Hershele Ostropoler was on intimate terms with the rebbe,* who lived peacefully among his Hasidim in a certain town. The Hasidim guarded their rebbe and sat at his table at the melavah malkah feast, Saturday night after Havdalah**, feasting on his leftovers. They also doted on the members of his household. The local magnate, who was fabulously rich, frequented the rebbe's house, too. The mistress of the house, meaning the rebbetzin, was a handsome and ample and attractive woman. The rich man, a purveyor who supplied provisions to the imperial army and was close to the authorities, had his eye on the lovely rebbetzin and could be found near her whenever possible. From time to time, he would bring valuable gifts to the rebbe himself and his family.
The intimacy between the rebbetzin and the magnate did not sit well with the Hasidim. But they didn't dare call the rebbe's attention to what was going on, because they were afraid of the magnate and because they didn't want to irritate the rebbe and spoil his good mood.
Hershele the jester paid no attention to what was happening. He had his own opinion about the "friendship" between the rebbetzin and the tall, broad-shouldered magnate, who turned the eyes of the young women and the gentile maids in rich houses. The Hasidim asked Hershele to stand in the breach and warn the magnate to stop fooling around with the woman, because of the commandment "You shall not covet."
Once, before the Shavuot festival, the Hasidim were sitting and talking idly about the approaching holiday, the festival of the Giving of the
*A Hasidic rabbi.
**The ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath. See commentaries to tale IFA 5361 (in this vol., no.
17) and tale IFA 8792 (in this vol., no. 5).