The Old Couple and Their Children
TOLD BY NAFTALI BORNSTEIN
TO PINḤAS GUTTERMAN
When he reached old age, Barukh the carpenter divided his substantial property among his children. He allotted some of the buildings and some of the money to each son and daughter. He divided it all fairly, lest there be—Heaven forbid!—less for one and more for another. After he registered his property in the name of his children, who were all married and had their own children, he told them: "Now my heart is quiet, because when I die you will not have any trouble or aggravation with my property. You are my children and after my death you might come to quarrel because of my property and deprive me of rest in my grave. This way my soul will have its repose in the world to come."
You should not think that Barukh the carpenter had transferred all of his property to his children and left over nothing for himself. No, Barukh the carpenter kept something for himself, too. He reserved for himself a portion equal to what he gave each child, so that he and his wife could manage as long as they lived. He left himself the small house where he lived, which was also where he had his carpenter's shop. He told his children, with a quiet heart, "I have kept for myself a share of my property equal to what I have given each of you."
After that, Barukh the carpenter was at peace with his property, knowing that his children would not quarrel after his death. He kept working in his trade, carpentry. Despite his years he was a healthy man—Barukh the carpenter had never been sick in his life—so he kept working and made a good living to support himself and his wife.
Each morning, he got up early and went to the synagogue for the first morning minyan.* As soon as the service was over he returned from the synagogue, carrying his tallit** and tefillin.§ When he got home, he put his
* Quorum of ten Jewish men, which constitutes a prayer group.
** Prayer shawl.
§Small black leather prayer boxes, wrapped around the head and arm, containing passages from the