Monday, April 20, 2009

“No One Considers Himself Wicked!”

At one Seder in the home of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, a guest told one of Rebbe Nachmn’s stories that also appears in the works of the Ben Ish Chai, zt”l.
“Once, a businessman was on the journey home after a successful stint at a fair. In one abandoned stretch of road, he spotted another person. As soon as the businessman drew closer the other man shocked the businessman by pointing a loaded gun right at him. In a gruff voice, the bandit said, “Hands up! Give me all of your money.” The businessman did as he was told and handed over all of his hard-won earnings.
As the bandit made to leave, the businessman said, “Wait! I am really in a bind now. Won’t you help me?”
“Nu?” said the bandit, clearly in a rush to make his getaway.
“That’s not only my money that I gave you—it is also the return on the investments of others! They will never believe that I was robbed.”
The bandit openly sneered, “Are you trying to ask for some money back?”
“No, no. All I am asking for is that you shoot a few holes in my hat.”
“What?” asked the surprised bandit.
“If you shoot my hat there will be no denying that I was really robbed.”
“Fine,” said the thief. “Take off your hat and hold it away from you and I’ll do it.”
“Can you shoot another hole so no one will doubt my story?” asked the businessman.
“Please fire again,” begged the traveler.
“Could you do a couple more so it looks completely realistic?”
“I think three bullet holes is enough,” demurred the thief, “But if you really want me to…”
“Just one more,” begged the victim.
“Alright, but then I’ve got to go.”
“You fool,” shouted the thief. “Now I’m out of ammunition!”
The merchant grinned and said, “If that’s the case, I’ll take back my money!” He beat the bandit soundly and retrieved his property.
After everyone at the table finished laughing, Rav Kanievsky spoke up. “Don’t forget what the bandit told the merchant as he was taking the money: ‘It’s not enough that you finished my ammunition and beat me up—you’re taking my money too?’ Even a bandit thinks that he’s in the right!”

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