Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

7
The Bottle of Oil from the Holy Land

TOLD BY ESTHER WEINSTEIN TO YEHUDIT GUT-BURG

A certain widow journeyed to visit the Rebbe* of Stratyn to ask for assistance and advice. When she arrived, she broke into tears and recounted her story. "My husband was ill for a long time. I sold everything we had in the shop and the house, everything of value, trying to save his life. But nothing helped. He passed away and left me with seven orphans—four sons and three daughters. Now I have nothing to put in their mouths, and they are liable, Heaven forbid, to die of starvation. Rebbe, please advise me. How can I support us honorably and raise the orphans? For we have a merciful and compassionate God in Heaven, may He have mercy also on me and on my orphans." The woman broke down in tears and could not continue.

The rebbe stood up. It was clear that the story had touched his heart. "What do you have left in the shop?" he asked.

"Only a bottle of olive oil that I must keep at any cost, because I received it as a gift from the Holy Land."

"Go home in peace, my daughter," the rebbe said, "and set aside many containers. Pour the oil from that bottle and fill up all of the containers. Then you can sell the oil. In this way you can support yourself honorably. But remember! You must not tell anybody about this, not even your children. And you must lock the door while doing it."

The widow followed the rebbe's advice and everything happened just as he said. The oil from the Holy Land made it possible for her to support herself honorably.

Eternally grateful, the widow came to the rebbe with a large donation—to express her gratitude for his advice and blessing. But the rebbe refused to accept anything from the widow and sent her back home.

*A Hasidic rabbi.

-53-

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