Three pious Jews decided to travel to a distant
city to spend a few days with a famous rabbi.
They set out on their journey, without food
or money, intending to walk the entire way.
They were still very far away from
destination, when they realized that
had made a mistake. They were tired
and ahead of them still a considerable
of miles. So they came out with a plan.
decided that one of them would disguise
as a rabbi. That way, when they came
next village, the people would offer
food, honored to have a rabbi visit
town. Being pious they were not happy
the arrangement, but they could not
of any other plot to continue their
The ruse worked. When they drew near to the
next village, they were greeted with excited
cries of joy, "A rabbi is coming! A
rabbi is coming!" They were accompanied
with a great pomp to the local tavern and
they were treated to a lavish meal. When
the meal was done, however, the innkeeper
approached the 'rabbi' and asked him for
special prayers for his son who was dying.
"The Holy One, blessed be his name,
may respond to your prayers." The counterfeit
rabbi could not do anything but accompany
the distressed father to his son's sick bed.
When next day they were to leave the village,
the innkeeper sent the party off with the
loan of a carriage and a team of horses.
Their stay in the big city was an uplifting
experience. But too soon, the holy days were
at an end and the three companions had to
go back home through the same village to
return the borrowed carriage and horses.
Terrified, the mock rabbi resumed his disguise;
his heart was in his throat as they approached
the village, especially when he saw the innkeeper
running towards them, waving his arms energetically.
But to the pretender's delight and surprise,
the innkeeper embraced him with joy, exclaiming,
"Thank you, rabbi. Only one hour after
you left our village, my son arose from his
bed well and strong. The doctors are amazed,
but my son lives, and I am grateful for your
faithful prayer." "What did you
do at that boy's death bed?" the two
companions asked the 'rabbi'. He replied
that when he stood at the boy's side, the
only prayer that came from his mouth was,
"Master of the universe, please, this
father and son should not be punished just
because they think I'm a rabbi. What am I?
I am nothing! A pretender! If this child
dies, his father will think a rabbi can do
nothing. So, Master of the universe, not
because of me, but because of this father
and his faith, can it hurt that his son would
The Jews tell this story because of its profound
insight into all of us. We are all pretenders,
hypocrites. None of us is worthy as to merit
God's favor; many times our religion is a
mask we hide behind. But God is gracious
and redemptive in spite of our pretence.
And He is always there beckoning us to come
just as we are. There is an opening for the
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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