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Our Sages Showed the Way  vol. 3

Originally published in Hebrew as
Ko asu chachomeinu
Copyright © 1976 by Moreshet
Tel Aviv, Israel
Feldheim Publishers Ltd



A righteous host

Rabbi Yonathan once came to visit his
friend Rabbi Chanina bar Chama.
Rabbi Chanina was happy to be with
his guest, and he invited him to go
walking in the garden.

It was summer, and it was pleasant to walk in
the shade. Beautiful fruit trees and lovely flowers
grew in the garden, and ripe figs could be seen
among the large leaves of the fig tree.

The two wise men walked around slowly,
discussing the teachings of the Torah. When Rabbi
Yonathan grew tired, Rabbi Chanina told him to
sit and rest in the small sukkah in the garden,
while he went to pick some ripe, sweet figs for
Rabbi Yonathan to taste.

Later, when Rabbi Yonathan was ready to
leave, Rabbi Chanina escorted him to the gate.
But on the way, Rabbi Chanina saw a fig tree
which was different from the other fig trees in the
garden. This tree was more beautiful, and its fruit
was larger and of a lighter color than ordinary figs.
These were the special, sweet figs called benoth-
—the satisfying white figs.

Rabbi Yonathan was surprised. He asked his
host, "I know that you treated me generously and
gave me your figs willingly, and I'm sure there is a
good reason why you didn't offer me any of these
figs, even though they are better than the others.
Can you tell me what your reason is? I would like
to learn from your deeds."

Rabbi Chanina answered, "This is not my tree.
It belongs to my son. I'm sure he would have been
happy to give you some of his figs, but since he is
not home, I could not ask him. Therefore I was not
permitted to take fruit from his tree."

And so Rabbi Yonathan learned how careful
Rabbi Chanina was. Even in matters as small as
picking a few figs from a ripe tree belonging to his
own son, he was careful not to take something
which did not belong to him. He was an honest and
righteous host.

Source: Talmud Yerushalmi, Bava Bathra


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