The Sad Rich Man
My Bubie believes that most people in the world try to do good things but, there are also bad people and we need try to fight them and hope that they are punished for the pain that they cause others. The next story is about someone who lost something precious to someone who was bad. My Bubie says we should try to think positive, even about a bad situation. Sometimes I have trouble doing that. She says, “Remember, sometimes you may lose something very precious but you must always have hope that it will be found again someday. You may feel sad, but don’t be very, very sad. When there is hope, there is the possibility to be happy too”.
Once there was a man who lived in a big house with many rooms and beautiful furniture. He had lots of clothes and shoes and hats to match all of his suits. The house had beautiful gardens and he had all of the food he wanted and servants to help take care of his house. However, this man was very, very sad. Why was he sad? It was because he didn’t have a wife. Well, the truth is that he had a wife but she had disappeared when she went on a trip to visit her family and he never heard from her again.
This man, whose name was Duvidl, hired police and private detectives and anyone who was good at finding something or someone that was missing, to look for his wife; but many months passed and she could not be found. So Duvidl was sad, very, very sad all of the time.
One day someone came to Duvidl’s house and was knocking on his door. Duvidl opened the door and there stood a man with a smile on his face. “Hello”, he said to Duvidl. “I have a wife and five children and I need some help to feed my family. I work, but it is not enough to always feed everyone. Maybe you can help us a little.”
Duvidl, who was a very generous man, offered the man some money and asked him if he wanted to come into his house for a drink. The man, Shimon, thanked Duvidl very much but told him that he had to go home to help his wife prepare for Shabbat. Before he left, Shimon said to Duvidl, “Excuse me but you seem so sad. Is there something I can do to help you?” Duvidl explained about how his wife had disappeared and he had tried everything and everyone to help find her but he was not successful.
Shimon replied, “I have a friend. His name is Chaim and he is a captain of a ship that carries merchandise all over the world to different countries; France, England, Spain, South America, North America and even Japan and China. If you can give me a picture of your wife, I will bring it to Chaim and ask him to carry it with him on his travels. He can show the picture to people he meets all over the world and maybe someone will recognize it and be able to tell him what happened to your wife."
Duvidl listened to what Shimon told him and thought that no one else had been able to help him, perhaps Shimon’s friend Chaim could help. So, he gave Shimon a picture of his wife and asked him to please let him know if Chaim learned anything about where she might be and what had happened to her.
After Shabbat, Shimon went to visit his friend Chaim and told him the sad story about Duvidl, a man who had much wealth but no happiness. He gave Chaim the picture of Duvidl’s wife and asked him to try to find her on his travels around the world. Chaim, who also was a kind man like Shimon, said that he would try. He was leaving tomorrow for a big trip all over Europe and South America.
Many days and many nights passed. Chaim traveled all over the world and he carried the picture of Duvidl’s wife with him in his pocket. Wherever he stopped and whenever he met new people, he showed them the picture but no one recognized the woman in the picture.
One day, before Chaim was leaving Spain to go on a long trip back to the Land of Israel, he went to the market to buy food. As he was shopping, choosing vegetables and fruits, eggs and cheese and meat for his long journey, he happened to look over at a shop that sold beautiful scarves, head coverings and shawls. There, selling the goods stood a beautiful young woman with a scarf around her head and as Chaim looked at her, he saw something very familiar about her face. “Why does that woman look familiar to me?” he asked himself. “I know her from somewhere but where?”
Suddenly, Chaim stopped. He could not move. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the picture which he had been carrying with him all of these months on his travels around the world and there she was. The woman in the store was the same woman in the picture!
Chaim approached her slowly and whispered to her, “Do you have a husband in the Land of Israel?” The woman turned to him, her face white and she began to shake. “Who are you?” she asked. “I am Chaim and your husband gave my friend Shimon your picture and asked me to carry it with me on my travels to try to find you or at least to find out what happened to you. Your husband is very, very sad.”
The woman, whose name is Simi, had tears in her eyes and began to tell Chaim what had happened to her. “When I was traveling to meet my family a bad man took me and brought me here to work in his shop. I am a prisoner. I work from six in the morning to nine at night. Then I go back to the house where there are other women who work for this bad man. We eat; sleep and the next morning get up to go back to work. I was not able to send a letter to my husband or my family because we could get a big punishment. I have been very, very sad.”
Chaim told Simi that he would think of a way to take her from this bad man back to the Land of Israel and to her husband, Duvidl. He would wait for her by the shop the next morning when she came and tell her his plan.
Simi had trouble sleeping that night. She was nervous and happy at the same time. She was scared that something could go wrong and she would be punished.
The next morning, just as he promised, Chaim was waiting for Simi at the store. She opened the door and he came in to be her first “customer”. “I have a plan,” said Chaim. “Tomorrow, when it is evening and it is time to lock-up the store I will grab you as you are leaving and put you into a cart with a horse that I will bring with me. I will hide you under the things that I buy in the market then take you to my boat and we will leave right away to sail back to Eretz Yisrael.”
Simi thought that this was a good plan but she said, “There is one problem. I have a young child with me, Duvidl’s child who was born shortly after I arrived here. I cannot leave without my son.” Chaim thought about this new information and said, “Simi, bring the child with you in the morning, under your shawl and we will save the child too.”
The next evening, just as he promised, Chaim was waiting for Simi. She brought the child with her and let her friend, in the store next to where she worked, look after him while she worked. In the evening, when it was time to lock the store, Simi went to her friend, hid the child under her shawl and then Chaim lifted both of them up and put them in his cart. Off he drove, encouraging the horse to go as fast as it could go until they reached Chaim’s ship. Once they were safely on the ship Chaim began to sail far, far away from Spain back to Eretz Yisrael.
After many weeks, Chaim, Simi and her child arrived in Eretz Yisrael. Chaim sent one of his sailors to find his friend Shimon who was so happy to hear that his friend Chaim had returned safely from his many travels. Shimon went to see his friend on the ship and was greeted with a big hug and a smiling face which showed Shimon that Chaim’s trip had been very successful.
“Shimon”, said Chaim. “I have some good news for you. I found your friend Duvidl’s wife in Spain. A bad man had taken her and was making her work for him all day, every day in his shop. I rescued her and her child.” “Child?” asked Shimon. “Duvidl didn’t say anything about a child”. “While she was there, in Spain, she gave birth to Duvidl’s and her child. She has waited all of these months to give him a name, hoping that someday she would be able to return home and she and Duvidl could name their baby together.”
“This is quite a blessing”, exclaimed Shimon. “I will take Simi and her child to Duvidl’s house. But I think that I should go in first, before they go in, because I do not want Duvidl to faint from the shock of seeing his wife, which he hasn’t seen in months, as well as a new baby, who he doesn’t even know exists!”
Shimon took Simi and her child in the cart drawn by the one old horse that he had. It was a poor man’s cart and horse but, this little cart and horse were about to bring a lot of joy to a very, very sad man.
When they arrived at Duvidl’s and Simi’s home, Chaim asked Simi to stay in the cart which he parked behind a big tree. Shimon went up to the house and knocked on the door. He could hear Duvidl slowly coming to open the door.
“Hello my friend”, said Duvidl to Shimon. “What can I do for you today?” Shimon asked Duvidl if he could come into the house and speak with him. “Of course you are welcome,” replied Duvidl. When they were both sitting Shimon looked at Duvidl and said, “I have some news about your wife. Chaim found her.” “What!” cried Duvidl. “Where is she? How did he found her? Is she in good health? Where was she all of this time?” Shimon responded, “Why don’t you ask her those questions yourself, she is here!”
Duvidl ran outside and just then Simi and the child came down from the cart, sitting behind the tree and ran toward Duvidl. They all were laughing and crying and hugging each other and kissing each other and thanking Hashem (God) for bringing them back together again. They came into the house and Duvidl asked who this child is. Simi told him that he is their child and she had waited to name him until they could give him a name together. At this news Duvidl burst out in tears, but these were not tears of sadness they were tears of happiness and thankfulness for having his wife back and a new son whom he had never met before.
Duvidl told Shimon that he wanted all of his family and Chaim and all of his family and the sailors to come to their home for Shabbat. He had enough room in their house to have everyone stay over. They would have a festive Shabbat. Afterwards he would invite the entire village to a Melaveh Malka where he and Simi would announce the name of their child.
The Shabbat celebrations were filled with joy, song, learning and good food. At the Melaveh Malka Duvidl explained to everyone that he and Simi decided to name their son after the two men who had helped to find and rescue them. He was named, Shimon Chaim. Everybody clapped their hands and wished the family much happiness.
Later, Duvidl spoke to Chaim about finding a way to help the other women and children whom the bad man had taken to be slaves, working all day in his shops. The police caught the bad man and helped the women to return to their families, who had almost given up hope of ever finding them again. Although there are very kind people in the world, like Duvidl, Simi, Shimon and Chaim, there are also bad people in the world and we must fight against them and bring them to justice.
Duvidl and Simi had many more children. Their home was a place of warmth and love. They were generous and gave Tzeduka (charity) to all who were in need in their community. Shimon’s family and Chaim’s family were very good friends with Duvidl’s and Simi’s family. Even though life has its challenges and there were also some difficult times, Duvidl was now a very, very happy man.
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