BEFORE THE KING
Avraham Tzvi Schwartz
A pious man once prayed along the
road. An important [Roman]
official passed by, and greeted him. He did not reply. The official
him to finish praying. When he did so, the official let loose...
"You, worthless loafer," he lashed
out at him,
"Doesn't it say in your Torah, "As much as you can, guard your
lives" and "Protect yourselves most carefully."
Why didn't you greet me back? If I sliced your head off with a sword,
anyone blame me?"
"Please," begged the pious man "give
me a chance
to appease you.
"Imagine, you were standing before a
king of flesh and
blood, and a friend of yours came and greeted you, would you greet him
"No," said the official.
"And if you were to greet your
friend," asked the
pious man, "what would they do to you?"
"They would slice off my head with a
"How much the more then is this true
for me," said
the pious man. "If an important official like you, offends a king of
and blood -- one who is here today and in the grave tomorrow -- must
die, then a
little person like me, who offends the King of all kings, one who lives
-- must certainly suffer great penalties!"
The official nodded his head to this
appeal -- and the pious
man went home, in peace.