Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

6
The Treasure

TOLD BY DVORA FUS

On a side street in a small town there lived a mother with three daughters. People called the girls "the orphans" because their father had died when they were all still very young. The mother had sweated to bring them up. She mended and sewed for the householders; the girls, when they got older, helped her. But as luck would have it, their mother died suddenly, leaving behind three grown-up young ladies. The daughters cried a lot but to no avail. They had no idea how they would manage for themselves. Also, it was nearly time for them to be married, and they had no dowries. They started working the way their mother had and lived on that. No one took any interest in them, but God would not abandon them.

One day, an old man was going around begging. He did not skip their house. Instead of a handout, they gave him a meal to eat. Before he went away, he wished that they might soon have good fortune.

In the middle of the night, when they were all sleeping soundly, the girls suddenly heard someone screaming in a queer voice: "Help us!" The girls and woke up in a fright. But when they were awake, the voice fell silent. Each of them told the same story. Terrified, they went back to bed. When they had fallen asleep, they were again roused by the same voice. This time they could not get back to sleep. The voice kept calling for three nights, until the girls responded and asked who was crying. The voice answered that one of them must come out and go to it. Terrified, they did not reply. They barely made it to daylight.

They decided they should go to the rabbi and do whatever he said. When they came to him, the rebbe was surprised to see the girls and asked them to recount what had happened. After the girls told the whole story, he understood that the voice was from Heaven. Without delay, he sent them off with his shammes to the big city to see the rebbe. When they arrived there, the rabbi knew everything.

"You don't have to be frightened, children," he told them. "Your late mother has prayed for you. When you get home, you must cast lots. Whichever one of you the lot falls on, she should go outside."

-48-

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