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What Comes First?
By Gershon W.The traveler's sobbing was so intense that it awoke Berel the innkeeper. His wife was very nervous. "Why is our guest crying so bitterly in the middle of the night?" she asked. "Something must have happened!"
Berel entered the guestroom to find a simple Jew, dressed like a peasant, shoeless, sitting on the floor, crying bitter tears over the Jewish exile from Israel. [This man was really a pious chassidic master, traveling "incognito" to learn of the situation of the world. Every midnight (besides Shabbat and festivals) he would arise to bemoan the destruction of our Holy Temples.]
"Why are you crying?" asked Berel. "What disaster has befallen you?"
The rabbi replied simply, "I cry over our Temple's destruction, and I beseech the Almighty to bring the Messiah who will return us to the Holy Land."
Berel was relieved, "Is that it?! Then please keep your wailing down so that you don't disturb the other guests!" With that Berel returned to his bedroom and informed his wife of the cause of the disturbance.
Five minutes later there was a knock on the rabbi's door. It was Berel again. "My wife would like to know if the Messiah comes and brings us back to the Land of Israel, will we be allowed to take our chickens with us?"
The rabbi was taken aback by the question. "Chickens? As far as I am aware, it doesn't say anything about chickens. You might have to leave your chickens here when the Messiah comes."
Berel duly informed his wife.
Five minutes later, another knock. Berel: "My wife asks you to please not pray anymore for the Messiah to come. We are doing fine here and would prefer to stay with our chickens."
At that the rabbi became agitated, "What do you mean 'fine'? Don't you know how precarious our exile is? At any moment the Cossacks could arrive and take your chickens, your wife, all your money and even your life! Aren't we better off in our Promised Land?"
To Berel, the rabbi's words made sense. But he still had to inform his wife.
Five minutes later, another knock. "My wife requests that you pray for the Messiah to come and take the Cossacks to the Land of Israel -- so we can stay here with our chickens!"
(heard from Rabbi Yisroel Reisman)
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