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Rabbi's last words

The beloved rabbi was on his deathbed, and life was slowly ebbing away. Around the bed was a group of sorrowing disciples who felt the coming loss keenly and who talked in whispers among themselves of the manifold virtues of the old man now leaving them.

One said, "So pious, so pious! Which of the many commandments of the Law did he fail to keep? Where at any point did he deviate in the slightest from the commandments of God?"

And another mourned, "And so learned. The vast commentaries of the rabbis of the past were, so to speak, imprinted on his brain. At any moment, he could call to mind some saying which would illuminate any possible theological question."

Still a third said, "And so charitable, so generous. Where was the poor man whom he did not help? Who in town is ignorant of his kindness? Why he kept for himself only enough to hold body and soul together."

But as this litany of praise continued, a faint tremor appeared on the rabbi's face. It became obvious that he was trying to say something. All the disciples leaned forward, with pent breath, to hear those last words.

Faintly, from the rabbinical lips, there came the words: "Piety, learning, charity! And of my great modesty you say nothing?"


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