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The Wealthy Man Gets Cold Feet

Tam and Chacham traveled the streets of the village collecting funds to help the many people suffering from the cold winter. Snow had made many roads impassable and life was very difficult.

In the village lived a very wealthy man. Every time Tam and Chacham came to his door to collect funds for the poor, the wealthy man would invite them in, offer them tea and talk about his business. When Tam and Chacham started talking about the plight of the poor people in the winter, the wealthy man would brush the off telling them that poor people like to complain and exaggerate — it wasn’t all as bad as they thought. Any way, he had no cash in the house at the moment, and couldn’t give anything at that time, asking if they could come back another time? The wealthy man escorted Tam and Chacham to the door, go back to his warm and comfortable room and settle down in his favorite chair near the fireplace, very pleased with himself.

Jewish Miser

Tam and Chacham were not very happy that the wealthy man could so easily dismiss the hardships and needs of those less fortunate. The poor had no money for food or for wood for their stoves, and they were cold and hungry. After much thought, Tam had an idea.

One evening Tam knocked on the wealthy man’s door. It was a cold and miserable night; snow and sleet blew through the deserted streets. The wealthy man asked Tam into his warm house, as usual. But Tam refused. “No,” he said, “I won’t be long.” And then he asked about the wealthy man’s health and after the health of his family, and asked him about his business, and spoke about the affairs of the community for a long time. The wealthy man could not send Tam away, of course; he had opened the door for him himself. The biting air was blowing fiercely and he was getting quite uncomfortable. He had come to the door in his slippers and yarmulke, dressed in a thin shirt and his house pants.

Tam, wearing a warm coat with a fur lining, his large fur lined cap covering his ears and heavy winter boots encasing his feet and legs, talked on and on. He didn’t want to come into the wealthy man’s house, kept telling the wealthy man that he only had one more thing to say and the he’d be on his way. The wealthy man’s toes grew stiff with the icy cold wind.

Suddenly the wealthy man understood. “Oh, Tam!” he cried. “Those poor people with no warm clothes or firewood for winter . . . I never knew. I never imagined it could be like this. This is terrible. It is horrible. I never knew, honestly! Something must be done!” He went into the house and returned with a purse full of gold coins. He wanted to go back to his fireplace as soon as he could. He needed hot tea. Tam thanked him and gave him a blessing that he should always be so generous. He too was cold after that long talk, but he didn’t mind. The poor people would have a good winter this year.

The wealthy man changed his ways that night. He became a regular contributor to the funds collected by Tam and Chacham for the poor, for poor brides, for poor students, for Passover money and for many other causes. He had learned a good lesson that night.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3) 

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