The Neighbor in Paradise
TOLD BY ESTHER WEINSTEIN TO YEHUDIT GUT-BURG
The rebbe* of Stretyn once asked, "Who will be my neighbor in the world to come?"
A heavenly voice replied, "Eliezer the water carrier will be your neighbor in the world to come. He will sit next to you in Paradise."
The rebbe ordered his shammes** to hitch up the horses to the wagon. "I'm leaving on a journey at once." The shammes and the Hasidim were astounded and perplexed. But one does not ask questions of the rebbe, neither where nor why. He knows very well what he is doing, even when his Hasidim do not understand his enigmatic deeds. The rebbe put on his coat and warm hat and took his tallit,§ tefillin,§§ and siddur.***
The two flew like eagles, passing through towns and villages, crossing woods and mountains. The rebbe spent the whole time singing songs of praise to the Creator of the universe and all creation.
Finally, the rebbe took a flask from his pocket, poured out a bit of water, washed his hands, took a piece of cake from his bag, gave a piece to his shammes, and told him, "Wash your hands and we'll eat."
The two finished their meal with a cup of tea, said the grace after meals, fed and watered the horses, and continued their journey.
At last they reached their destination. The horses stopped, and the shammes got down, followed by the rebbe. The two entered a small room, where a woman sat by a table, along with two boys and a girl.
"Welcome to those who arrive," they called to the two visitors, rising to greet them.
*A hasidic rabbi.
§§Small black leather prayer boxes, wrapped around the head and arm, containing passages from the