56. The Miraculous Circumcision (IFA 10087)
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56 The Miraculous Circumcision T O L D B Y M I R I A M M I Z R A H. I T O M O S H E AT T I A S Once there were two Jewish brothers. God had blessed one of them with wealth but had not given him any sons. He had many daughters but not a single son. His brother, on the other hand, was poor and toiled long and hard to support his wife and his children. But God had blessed him with sons: Every year, his wife presented him with another boy. The rich brother’s wife was bursting with envy: Her sister-in-law had so many sons, and she not even one. Then the two women were pregnant again and their time approached. Sure enough, the rich man’s wife had yet another daughter, while the poor brother’s wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Jealousy gnawed at her sister-in-law. She nagged her husband, who was the only mohel* in town, not to circumcise his nephew. Her husband tried to explain that that was out of the question, but finally he gave in to her demands and told his brother that he could not circumcise the child. So the next day, the father of the boy got up early and washed and said his prayers. Then he asked his wife to swaddle the baby well. He wrapped the child up securely, placed the bundle on his back, and set off for the next town, to have his son circumcised there. The journey was difficult and tiring. The father climbed the hills, jumped from rock to rock, descended through valleys—and still the town was far away. And the whole time the baby was on his back. Suddenly, he heard a voice: “Minyan! Minyan! We need a tenth man for a minyan!” The man rejoiced, since this meant he was close to a Jewish village. He gathered up his strength, followed the sound of the voice, and reached a synagogue full of light. Crossing the threshold, he saw a long row of old Jews, sitting and waiting, each with a long white beard that reached down to his chest. Received cordially, the man went over to one of the tables, set the child down, wrapped himself up in his tallit** , and joined the minyan. 507 * One who does circumcisions. ** Prayer shawl.  508  Folktales of the Jews: Volume 1 When the service was over, a tall and handsome elder with sparkling eyes went over to the swaddled baby, opened the wrappings, and lifted the child in his arms. He was the town mohel; and while the worshipers sang, he circumcised the child. The father rejoiced and thanked God Who had helped him fulfill the commandment. Carefully wrapping the child up again, he bid farewell to the worshipers and the mohel and set out for home. This time, his journey was short. Reaching his house, he told his wife what had happened. They rejoiced together. His wife took the baby from him and placed it on a table to change its swaddling clothes. When she undid the diaper, it was full of gold ducats! The couple gathered them up and thanked God for the wonders and miracles that He alone performs.* When the mother changed her baby two hours later, the diaper was again full of gold ducats. The parents’ joy was great. The woman tried to persuade her husband that the elderly mohel was no ordinary mohel, but Elijah the Prophet himself. Yesterday’s poor man soon became wealthy, for every time the parents changed their son’s diaper, they found handfuls of gold ducats. The couple bought a large house, filled it with many fine objects, and lived in comfort and plenty. When the sister-in-law heard of this, she was consumed by jealousy: Now her sister-in-law had both sons and wealth! She could not believe that the baby’s diaper was full of gold ducats every time they changed him, and suspected that her brother- and sister-in-law were mixed up in theft and robbery. That very day, burglars broke into the king’s palace and made off with his treasure. The whole city was buzzing with the news. The rich brother’s wife went to the palace. Announcing that she knew the identity of the robbers , she recounted the story of her brother- and sister-in-law’s newfound wealth...


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