False First Impression

Rabbi Yannai was once walking along and he met a man of refined dress. He asked the man if he would like to accompany him home for a snack. The man agreed to go. They entered the house and Rabbi Yannai quizzed him on scripture and found him wanting, he quizzed him on mishnah and found him wanting, on “Talmud” and found him wanting, and on aggadah and found him wanting. Rabbi Yannai said, “Lead Birchat HaMazon.” He said, “Let Yannai bless in his house.” Rabbi Yannai said, “Are you able to repeat after me what I say to you?” He said, “Yes.” Rabbi Yannai said to him, “Say a dog has eaten Yannai’s bread.” The man rose and grabbed him and said, “Why are you withholding my inheritance from me?” Rabbi Yannai said, “What inheritance of yours do I have?” He said, “I have heard the school children say, ‘The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the inheritance of the community of Yacov.’ (Deut. 33:4) ‘Community of Yannai’ is not written here, rather ‘Community of Yacov.” They reconciled and Rabbi Yannai asked him, “By what merit did you eat from me?” He said, “In all my days I did not hear a bad word and return it to its source, nor have I seen two individuals quarreling and failed to make peace between them.” Rabbi Yannai said, “So much derech eretz in you and I called you a dog!” He applied to him the verse, “To him who prepares a way, I show the salvation of God,”- “He who figures out his way will proper greatly.” (Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 9:3)

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