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"…Tell me - What are your wages?" (Bereishis 28:15).

Reb Aryeh Levin ztzk"l , the "Tzaddik of Yerushalayim," was also known as "the Rabbi of the prisoners." The British Mandate ruled Palestine with a heavy hand and those Jewish groups who tried to free the Holy Land from their hands were considered dangerous rebels. Many were incarcerated by the British police, and some were even executed.

Reb Aryeh would visit the prisoners and encourage them and raise their spirits. The prison authorities knew that his intentions were pure and they allowed him free entry. Often he brought with him notes of comfort from the prisoners' families, which gave them strength to endure the terrible conditions in prison.

One Shabbos day, a Jew was arrested and thrown into prison. Reb Aryeh knew that this fellow was religious and would not eat from the food served the prisoners by the British. He prepared a kosher Shabbosdiker meal and brought it with him to the prison, specifically for this new prisoner. Unconventionally, the prison guards told Reb Aryeh that this prisoner was considered especially sensitive, and he could not visit him nor leave the food to be delivered to him.

But Reb Aryeh could feel the man's hunger pains and refused to give up. He found two Jews and asked them to accompany him to the prison walls. When he was sure that no one was looking, he climbed upon the shoulders of his two companions and jumped over the wall, despite his advanced age. Of course, he was caught in the act and brought before the Commander of the prison. But instead of punishing or even reprimanding him, the officer said, "I always wondered how much you get paid for being the 'Rabbi of the Prisoners.' Now I am convinced that you do it for free. No one who works for a salary would do such a dangerous thing as you did. Only someone who serves his brothers with the purest of intentions."

(Recorded by Rabbi Zilberstein shlita in Barechi Nafshi.)

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel