Little Fish, Big Fish
TOLD BY ARYÉ TESLER TO GERSHON BRIBRAM
The head of a certain community was known to be a great miser. All the beggars in the neighborhood told one another about him and publicized the fact far and wide.
Once the head of the community received a great honor: a well-known rebbe* honored him with a visit. The head of the community had no choice but to invite the honored guest for the midday meal. He took council with his wife, who was even stingier than he was, and the two of them decided that the menu would include fish. In the afternoon they would serve the little fish and keep the big fish for the evening, after the rebbe had left, when they could enjoy them.
The rebbe peeked into the kitchen, where he saw the dishes cooking on the stove and imagined the fine flavor of the fish. How great was his disappointment when he saw that the platter placed before him contained only small fish. He leaned over and seemed to be carrying on a whispered conversation with them. The astonished couple sat there in tense silence, watching this wonder. A great miracle was taking place in their own house—with their own eyes they could see the rebbe conversing with the fish. The story of the miracle in their house would certainly be passed down to future generations.
After a while the head of the community made so bold as to ask the rebbe: "Your honor, may you live to be one hundred and twenty, you understand the language of fish and can converse with them?"
"Certainly," sighed the rebbe. "Ever since my late brother drowned in the river, I keep asking the fish whether they have seen him."
"And what did the fish reply?"
"They said, 'we weren't born yet when the disaster took place. But there are large fish in the kitchen, and they certainly know the answer.'"
*A Hasidic rabbi.