Random Quote #54 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala
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As a set-off we append here a romantic story paraphrased from
the Midrash Shir Hashirim. A certain Israelite of Sidon, having
lived many years with his wife without being blessed with
offspring, made up his mind to give her a bill of divorcement.
They went accordingly together to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, that
legal effect might be given to the act of separation. Upon
presenting themselves before him, the Rabbi addressed them in
these fatherly accents:--"My children," said he, "your divorce
must not take place in pettishness or anger, lest people should
surmise something guilty or disgraceful as the motive for the
action. Let your parting, therefore, be like your meeting,
friendly and cheerful. Go home, make a feast, and invite your
friends to share it with you; and then to-morrow return and I
will ratify the divorce you seek for." Acting upon this advice,
they went home, got ready a feast, invited their friends, and
made merry together. "My dear," said the husband at length to
his wife, "we have lived for many a long year lovingly together,
and now that we are about to be separated, it is not because
there is any ill-will between us, but simply because we are not
blessed with a family. In proof that my love is unchanged, and
that I wish thee all good, I give thee leave to choose whatever
thou likest best in the house and carry it away with thee." The
wife with true womanly wit promptly replied, "Well and good, my
dear!" The evening thereafter glided pleasantly by, the wine-cup
went round freely and without stint, and all passed off well,
till first the guests one by one, and then the master of the
house himself, fell asleep, and lay buried in unconsciousness.
The lady, who had planned this result, and only waited its
_denouement_, immediately summoned her confidential handmaids
and had her lord and master gently borne away as he was to the
house of her father. On the following morning, as the stupor
wore off, he awoke, rubbing his eyes with astonishment. "Where
am I?" he cried. "Be easy, husband dear," responded the wife in
his presence. "I have only done as thou allowedst me. Dost thou
remember permitting me last night, in the hearing of our guests,
to take away from our house whatever best pleased me? There was
nothing there I cared for so much as thyself; thou art all in
all to me, so I brought thee with me here. Where I am there
shalt thou be; let nothing but death part us." The two thereupon
went back to Rabbi Shimon as appointed, and reported their
change of purpose, and that they had made up their minds to
remain united. So the Rabbi prayed for them to the Lord, who
couples and setteth the single in families. He then spoke his
blessing over the wife, who became thenceforth as a fruitful
vine, and honored her husband with children and children's
children.

A parallel to this, illustrative of wifely devotion, is recorded
in the early history of Germany. In the year 1141, during the
civil war in Germany between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, it
happened that the Emperor Conrad besieged the Guelph Count of
Bavaria in the Castle of Weinsberg. After a long and obstinate
defense the garrison was obliged at length to surrender, when
the Emperor, annoyed that they had held out so long and defied
him, vowed that he would destroy the place with fire and put all
to the sword except the women, whom he gallantly promised to let
go free and pass out unmolested. The Guelph Countess, when she
heard of this, begged as a further favor that the women might be
allowed to bear forth as much of their valuables as they could
severally manage to carry. The Emperor having pledged his word
and honor that he would grant this request, on the morrow at
daybreak, as the castle gates opened, he saw to his amazement
the women file out one by one, every married woman carrying her
husband with her young ones upon her back, and the others each
the friend or relation nearest and dearest to her. At sight of
this, the Emperor was tenderly moved, and could not help
according to the action the homage of his admiration. The result
was that not only was life and liberty extended to the Guelphs,
but the place itself was spared and restored in perpetuity to
its heroic defenders. The Count and his Countess were henceforth
treated by the Emperor with honor and affection, and the town
itself was for long after popularly known by the name of
Weihertreue, i.e., the abode of womanly fidelity.

Benedictory condolences are recited by ten men, not reckoning the
mourners; but nuptial blessings are recited by ten men, including the
bridegroom.

THE TALMUD, _Kethuboth_, fol. 8. col. 2.



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