by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
In the shiur Tanya of this week the Alter Rebbe discusses how will the halachos be in the days of Moshiach, may it be speedily in our days. Learning it, I was reminded of the following story. Your feedback is always appreciated.
Reb Sholom Ber Gordon grew up in the chassidishe town of Dokshitz, in Russia. When he was a young boy in the cheder they learned the mishna in bava metzia, perek hamafkid (37a), when two people came to a person at the same time and each one gave him a bag to watch.
One of them gave a bag of one hundred coins and the other gave a bag with two hundred coins. But when they both came to retrieve their bag, each one claimed; “I gave you the bag of two hundred.”
The first opinion in the Mishna is that each one definitely gave one hundred, so each one receives his one hundred, and the one hundred which they are arguing over, is held until Eliyahu hanavi comes and ushers in the days of moshiach. He will clarify who is the rightful owner.
The second opinion is; this is only a penalty to the true owner. The other person received his entire amount, and lost nothing, so what persuasive pressure is being placed on him to being more forthcoming? Therefore, this opinion states, we don’t release any of the money, and seeing that he also is going to be penalized; he will hopefully be forthcoming and admit.
If he does not admit and straighten out the situation, then we hold everything until the coming of Moshiach.
As a young boy, Sholom Ber asked his melamed (teacher); we learned that money is extracted from a person only if you have two witnesses who state that the money or item belongs to this person. If you have only one witness, even if it is Moshe Raibeinu himself who testifies on behalf of one of them, we don’t judge in his favor. (The only thing we can do is make the other person swear). But here, the Mishna informs us that Eliyahu is going to clarify the truth and say it belongs to one of them. Yes it is Eliyahu hanavi himself, but he is only one witness?
The melamed replied, Dovid hamelech wrote in Tehillim (43:3), shelach oircha v’amitcha..(Send Your light and truthfulness…). Rashi explains oircha is a reference to Moshiach, while amitcha is a reference to Eliyahu hanavi.
So when Eliyahu will come, may it be now, he won’t be called to testify in every case where there was an argument. Rather a spirit of honesty and truthfulness will permeate the world, and the one who wrongly claimed that the two hundred was his, will readily admit that it was a mistake. So when one of the contestants admits, we are basing our decision on his words.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.