The Three-Day Fair in Balta
TOLD BY DVORA FUS
The court of the Rebbe* of Kozienitz** was overflowing with Hasidim. Everyone clustered around the rebbe. Among the Hasidim was a young man who was hanging about the rebbe's court looking very somber and upset. He asked the shammes§ to announce him to the rebbe because he wanted to have a private audience with him. Every time, though, the shammes came back with the message that the rebbe would not receive him and the young man should go away for the day because he could not meet the rebbe.
The young man decided that on Thursday he would stand right by the door and force his way into the rebbe's study, throw himself at the rebbe's feet, and beg him to have pity and receive him. But on Thursday the rebbe sent the shammes to tell the young man that he could be admitted. Wailing and crying loudly, he asked the rebbe for his blessing. He had been married for fifteen years but still didn't have any children.
The rebbe raised his eyes toward Heaven, furrowed his brow, and sank into thought. Suddenly he turned to the young man. "You have come to ask for my blessing, but you once committed an appalling sin. Tell me about it."
The young man proceeded to tell the rebbe that, fifteen years earlier, his parents had arranged a match for him. But because the bride didn't meet his fancy he had broken the engagement without his parents' knowledge.
"That was a double sin," the rebbe said. "You failed to show respect for your mother and father and you mortally humiliated your former fiancée. You must go find her and ask her forgiveness. After your former fiancée forgives you, you will have children who will be Torah scholars."
"But rebbe, I don't know where she lives, nor will I recognize her."
**Yiddish for the town of Kozienice, in the Kielce district, Poland.