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"Behold! it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations" (Bemidbar 23:9).
When the Jewish People behave properly, they are destined to live in solitude, in the Holy Land, where they can serve Hashem with no hindrance from the nations. However, we say in the Musaf Prayer of Shabbos, "Because of our sins we were exiled from our Land," and forced to live among the hostile nations of the world. Surviving among them has been compared to a sheep surrounded by seventy wolves. Even in good times, it sometimes took Jewish ingenuity to stay afloat.
The following cute story, recorded in Tuvecha Yabiu by Rabbi Zilberstein shlita, is an example of what Jews have to go through to be at peace with our neighbors in their countries.
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger was a genius who wrote many books. When he concentrated on learning Torah, he was oblivious to all that took place around him. Once, he was reading a book in the library of Vienna, when suddenly King Franz Josef, who was known as a friendly king, entered the room. The entire library was immediately in turmoil as people scrambled to their feet to greet the King. Only Reb Shlomo remained seating with his head buried in his book.
Instead of getting upset, the king walked next to the Rabbi and waited patiently for him to notice the Monarch. When he finished his reading, the Rabbi looked up and was startled to see the King next to him. He jumped to his feet and immediately recited the prayer to be said when seeing a distinguished person.
The King found the entire incident amusing and was impressed with the character of the Jewish leader. He expressed his desire to visit the Rabbi at home and Reb Shlomo of course replied that it would be a great honor. However, they did not set a specific date and so the Rabbi could not prepare for the visit properly.
When the King finally came to his home, Rabbi Kluger, who was in the middle of concentrating on some difficult piece of Torah, stood up to greet the Monarch but was a bit overwhelmed and so he remained standing and did not invite the King to sit.
"I see that Jewish wise men are unaware of proper decorum," said the king with a twinkle in his eye. "You don't seem to know how to greet a guest properly."
Without missing a beat, the wise Rabbi replied, "On the contrary, Your Highness. It is we who know how to properly appraise our guests. Am I to invite you to sit down? The entire country, including my home and all of my possessions, belongs to His Majesty. Consequently, I remain standing on my feet, waiting for my Master to give me permission to sit together with him!"
Shema Yisrael Torah Network