The Man Who Blessed People
This is a 19th century story.
It takes place within the vast Jewish community in the Russian empire.
Good families used to send their youngsters to board and study in Yeshivas - which are religious colleges - where they were educated and gained knowledge in the Torah, the Talmud and the other literature needed for proper Jewish life.
One of those Yeshivas was headed by a very devoted master.
He, not only cared to supply good teaching and nurture, but also cared about the future vocation of the students.
To some graduate, he could recommend passing to a higher school where he could be trained to be a Rabbi or a Dayan.
Another one he might refer to be a trainee of a great cantor, Hazan, because of his musical qualities.
To somebody he might suggest to start a career of a merchant, or even to turn to craftsmanship, when his talent is it that direction.
Now, it happened that one of the students was quite good hearted, but also very slow in learning from the sacred books. He could learn a text by heart but be not sure if he understood the meaning.
And that youth grew up, and it was high time for him to leave the Yeshiva and be on his own.
The master called him and said to him: "My beloved son, the time has come for you to go into real life. I considered your possibilities, and concluded that the most suitable occupation for you is that you will work in blessing people".
The youth asked what he meant by that, and the master said: "It is not very complicated. People in all sorts of trouble will come to you to get a blessing for relief and salvation, and you will just bless them from your kind heart".
"What should I do and say?" asked the student, and the master explained: "You put your hand on the head of that person, and then you whisper and speak in your heart something like:
'Master of the universe, here before you, there is a person in distress, who really needs your help. Please God, save him from his trouble, relieve his suffering, keep your eye on him and give him good life'.
Now, if it does help the person – then it is very good; if it doesn't, then it is too bad for that wretched miserable creature – but in any case this can be a decent livelihood."
So, the new graduate packed his belonging, parted from his teachers and friends - and for many years they did not hear from him.
Over the years, the master managed to educate and direct over a thousand young people, and in the course of time he became old.
His health deteriorated, and eventually he became very ill.
His disciples and the people close to him turned to the best doctors available, but no effective cure was found, and his condition became critical.
At that stage, one loyal follower of his heard that in some town, on the other side of the country, there is some holy person whose blessing can make miracles in helping miserable people.
His disciples and family thought that it is worth trying, because they could see no other hope. The master feared that the long route would be too difficult for him in his condition and the cold winter. They promised him to take good care of him.
They hired a good covered well-padded cart, and wrapped the master in warm blankets. The trip took several days, and eventually they arrived at the house of the wondrous person.
In the place they found a whole queue of people, waiting to be admitted and get the blessing they needed.
The waiting people told them about the man, his routine and his good influence.
Due to the master's eminence, his old age, his condition and the lengthy route from his place - those people agreed to let him come in before his turn.
When the master got in, he recognized the holy man as his graduate to whom he suggested just this vocation. The man also recognized the master and he was quite excited.
He said: "I see that you really need a blessing, and I am more than willing to bless you - especially you.
And the master said: "I hear from the people that you are used to bless quietly and the words are not heard. Can I request that in my case you will speak out loud? Thus I will be able to learn something from you".
The Man answered: "After all, it was you who instructed me to whisper. Of course I will do now as you say".
The holy man put his hand on the master's head, and he said out loud:
"Master of the universe, here before you, there is a person in distress, who really needs your help. Please God, save him from his trouble, relieve his suffering, keep your eye on him and give him good life. Now, if it does help the person – then it is very good; if it doesn't, then it is too bad for that wretched miserable creature – but in any case this can be a decent livelihood."
Retold by Asher Shla'in