The Arizal Shul

The Arizal, the Groom and the Payback

The Arizal (Isaac ben Solomon Luria Ashkenazi 1534– July 25, 1572) was in Tzefas, Israel, when a student came to him. “I want to learn Torah.” said the student. But when the Arizal questioned him, he learned that the student had never studied Torah before as he was a morano and had hidden his Jewish identity since his birth. The Arizal told him to go to a particular Yeshiva and the Rosh Yeshiva there would be able to instruct him.

The Rosh Yeshiva had a wife who was on her death bed, and just before dying her last request was for her daughter to marry a Torah scholar. Thirty days after her death, the Rosh Yeshiva began to recommend fine Torah students to her daughter, but she rejected each one. Finally the frustrated father asked why the daughter was rejected all the offers. “Each night my mother comes to me in a dream and tells me that the only person I can marry is the new “morana” student you just accepted. “But that student knows nothing!” insisted the father. When the daughter refused to budge, the father finally admitted, “I too have a dream each night that your mother comes to me and demands that this boy marry you, but I dismiss it as foolishness.”

Not knowing exactly what to do, the father went back to the Arizal for advice. “Your daughter must marry this boy – they are soulmates destined for one another” said the Arizal. “Plus, you must write a special marriage document in which you give over ALL of YOUR property to the GROOM if the marriage should end or the bride should die.” The father agreed, the two were married, and a year later the bride was about to give birth. But there were complications during the birth and the mother and child both died.

The distraught (and now destitute) father, the Rosh Yeshiva, went back to the Arizal for advice. “Let me tell you a story” said the Arizal. “There was once a woman who did not like her husband, but because her husband was a kind man there was no way for her to get out of the marriage. She became pregnant – and then came up with an idea. She hit herself, causing the baby to die, and then accused her husband of hitting her and causing the baby to die. She went to the local Rabbi with her dead baby and the accusation. The Rabbi believed her immediately and with the help of the community, forced the innocent father to give his wife a divorce document as well as a massive divorce settlement.” “What does that have to do with me?” asked the Rosh Yeshiva. “You see, your daughter was originally the woman in this story That woman murdered her child, so G-d sent this woman back into this world and had her own child murder her. The man who was falsely accused and lost all of his money came back as your son-in-law: Just as he originally lost all his money through a false accusation, G-d ensured that he was given all of his money back.” “And where do I fit in to this?” asked the Rosh Yeshiva. “You were originally that Rabbi who believed that woman’s story. He never did any investigations to see if her story was true or not, and therefore without the backing of Jewish law he forced her husband to part with all of his money and give a divorce document. So now, all of your money is being taken away from you and given to the person to whom you originally caused a loss due to your negligence.”

I heard this story from Rabbi Yisroel Brog. It struck a chord with me, for we can see in this true story that even if things seem totally unfair right now, G-d has many methods at His disposal that He uses to ensure that the righteous do not lose out and the wicked are eventually punished.

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