The following is an excerpt from a short story by I. L. Peretz. To read the full story, please click here.
Every Friday during the month of Elul
the Rabbi of Nemirov
would vanish. He was nowhere to be seen. Where could the
Rabbi be? In heaven, no doubt, the people thought, asking
God to bring peace in the New Year. Where could the Rabbi
be? A villager decided to find out.
One night he sneaked into the Rabbi's home, slid under
the Rabbi's bed, and waited. Just before dawn, the Rabbi
awakened, got out of bed, and began to dress. He put
on work pants, high boots, a big hat, a coat, and a
wide belt. He put a rope in his pocket, tucked an ax
in his belt, and left the house. The villager followed.
The Rabbi crept in the shadows to woods at the edge
of town. He took the ax, chopped down a small tree,
and split it into logs. Then he bundled the wood, tied
it with the rope, put it on his back, and began walking.
He stopped beside a small broken-down shack and knocked
at the window.
"Who is there?" asked the frightened,
sick woman inside.
"I, Vassil the peasant," answered the Rabbi, entering
the house. "I have wood to sell."
"I am a poor widow. Where will I get the money?" she
"I'll lend it to you," replied the Rabbi.
"How will I pay you back?" asked the woman.
"I will trust you," said the Rabbi.
The Rabbi put the wood into the oven, kindled the
fire, and left without a word.
Now whenever anyone reports that the Rabbi has gone
to heaven, the villager only adds quietly, "Heaven?
If not higher."