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How similar is this to the story of Moses (as) and Al-Khidr (as)?

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi In The Company of The Prophet Elijah

You have all heard of the Prophet Elijah who has never died; who, unseen to us, visits us on the Seder nights and during the rest of the year is busy helping the poor and the sick. It is Elijah who will one day bring the good tidings that God has been filled with compassion for His people and is sending them the Messiah to redeem them from their long exile.

This story is about Elijah and about a great sage who wanted to learn more about him. The name of the sage was Rabbi Joshua ben Levi.

One day, when Elijah was on his errands of mercy, he was met by Rabbi Joshua. Although usually unseen by anyone, unless the Prophet wants to be seen and recognized, Rabbi Joshua saw and recognized Elijah and greeted him respectfully. Then he begged the Prophet to take him along on his journey.

"Where I go," Elijah replied, "there must be no human companion. Humans do not see everything, and what they see they do not always understand. Pray, be not curious, let me go."

Elijah's words only strengthened Rabbi Joshua's desire to accompany the Prophet and benefit from his companionship. The sage continued to plead: "I promise that I shalt not weary you with questions and shall in no way interfere with your mission. Take me with you, Master." sage: "Remember, as soon as you will begin asking me questions to explain that which you will not understand, our ways must part."

Towards evening the weary old travellers came to an old shaky hut of a poor couple. Both the man and his wife were sitting outside their home. When they saw the two travellers they rose and, in the true fashion of the children of Abraham, they welcomed the strangers to their humble home. What little food they had in the house, they gladly shared with the guests, and offered them their beds for rest. They themselves made their beds on the straw in the cow-shed that housed their cow. The cow was their only valuable possession, for its milk was their whole source of income.

In the morning the Prophet and sage took leave from the kindly couple, as soon as they were out of sight, the Prophet Elijah prayed that the cow of the poor couple should fall dead. Rabbi Joshua was terribly shocked and upset. "Why should you repay for the kindness and hospitality of these people with such ingratitude?!" he wanted to exclaim. But he remembered the Prophet's warning and kept his silence.

All day long they wandered together and the Prophet taught the sage many teachings without a word of explanation about his way with the poor couple.

Towards evening they came to a fine mansion and asked permission to spend the night there. The rich man who lived there did not receive them with a friendly face. Grudgingly he permitted them to stay the night in his house, but offered them no food or a kind word. In the morning, as they were about to leave, they noticed a crack in the wall. Elijah did not say a word, but no sooner were they gone when the Prophet prayed that the cracked, dangerous wall be restored to solid strength.

Again Rabbi Joshua was amazed. "Why should the rich miser be spared the trouble and expense of repairing his wall?" thought he, but remembering the Prophet's warning he held his peace.

After a long and tiring day's journey, the two reached a city that had a beautiful House of Prayer. The walls were made of marble, and the benches of carved wood. The scrolls were richly adorned, and the Ark was a masterpiece of art. "Here, certainly, we shall be made welcome and treated with respect," thought Rabbi Joshua. But he was wrong again. After the evening prayers, no-one seemed to take an interest in the strangers, and none of the wealthy members offered them a bed and food. The Prophet and the sage had to spend the night on the precious but hard wooden benches. When they left in the morning, the Prophet wished the members of the community that they should all become Aldermen of the city.

Rabbi Joshua was sorely tried to keep his silence, what with his empty stomach and aching bones. The Prophet's blessing to the unkind people puzzled him greatly, but he sealed his lips and buried his question deep in his heart.

The companions reached another city. The House of Prayer was not as beautiful as the one they visited the day before, but the people made up for it in kindness and hospitality. They enjoyed a rest in the best house of the town, and were honored like princes. When it was time to go, the Prophet turned to the good people and said: "May God grant that only one of you be a leader."

This was the last straw. The sage was no longer able to control himself. Forgetting the Prophet's warning, he exclaimed: "Revered Master! Far be it from me to tell you what to do. Yet it seems to me that you add insult to injury; that you reward good with evil, and evil with good. Please explain to me your strange ways."

"I warned you that humans judge by the sight of their eyes, but there is more in life than meets the eye. According to our agreement, you will have to leave me now. But let me explain to you at least what you have witnessed, and your heart will be able to live in peace.

"You see, the poor old couple who received us so nicely on the first night of our journey, certainly deserved our gratitude. I saw to my great sorrow that that very day the woman was destined to die. We gave them an opportunity, to do an act of charity and I prayed to God that she should live, and that their cow take her place. Although they lost their most precious possession, they will be able to stay together for a few years more. He who gives life will also provide for their support."

"I see now," exclaimed Rabbi joshua. "But what about that rich miser, and his cracked wall?"

"There was a huge treasure buried beneath the wall. Had it collapsed, the miser would have found it. That's why. "I could not have known that, of course," said Rabbi Joshua. "Now, why did you bless the men of the beautiful synagogue who did not open their homes to us?"

"That was no blessing, my friend," replied Elijah. "A community where everybody is a leader is not a happy place to live in. This is also the explanation of my wish to the kind and hospitable citizens of the last place we visited. Let them have one respected and able leader who is dedicated to the good of all. There will be peace, harmony and co-operation in that blessed community, and it will prosper."

"You have opened my eyes, dear Master," exclaimed Rabbi Joshua.

"Go and teach our brethren the ways of God. Let them not be disheartened when they see the wicked prosper, or the righteous suffer. For while man judges by the sight of his eyes, God looks into the heart, and He rules the world with justice and mercy. Shalom! Peace be with you."

The next moment Elijah was gone.

Nissan Mindel

Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society ... n-Levi.htm
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