The Fisherman and the Angel
A Tale by Paul Singer
On a lake near the town of Ezherene there lived a fisherman. Every morning he would row his boat out onto the lake, cast his net, and haul in his catch. The fisherman would then bring his catch into town where he a had a stall in the market, and from there he would sell his fish.
One day a stranger appeared in Ezherene. He went from stall to stall in the market asking for any assistance the merchant could give. “Go away,” they all told him. “Strangers are not welcome in our town!” To this, the stranger simply bowed his head and went on to the next stall.
Eventually the stranger came to the stall of the fisherman. It was late in the day, and the fisherman had sold his last fish and was about to clean up before heading home. “Have you anything to spare for a stranger,” the stranger asked. But having just sold his last fish of the day, the fisherman had very little to offer the stranger.
“I have no fish to give to you,” the fisherman said to the stranger. “But if you help me clean up, I will bring you home and share my dinner with you.”
The stranger agreed, and he and the fisherman made quick work of cleaning the stall.
As they headed towards the fisherman’s home, the fisherman noticed the diminishing light of the day. “It will be getting dark soon,” he remarked to the stranger. “And these environs are no place for a stranger to be roaming at night. I think it best if you passed the night at my house and resume your travels in the morning.”
“Thank you,” the stranger replied.
Soon they reached the fisherman’s home. The fisherman welcomed the stranger into his home and went about preparing dinner. As he was setting the table, the fisherman looked at the stranger and remarked, “Now that I see you in this bright light, you look very old and worn by your travels. I think you should sleep in the bed, and I will sleep on the couch. The bed is more comfortable, and you will be better refreshed to continue your travels in the morning.”
“Thank you,” replied the stranger.
The two men, the fisherman and the stranger, sat down and shared a meal.
“So,” said the fisherman, “what brings you to Ezherene?”
“Work,” the stranger replied.
“And what do you do,” the fisherman asked.
“I am an angel,” the stranger replied.
“Oh,” said the fisherman. “And what do you do as an angel?”
“I walk to and fro in the World and in each place where I stop, I search out the most righteous man in that place.”
“And what do you do when you find the most righteous man in that place,” the fisherman asked.
“I bless his house,” the angel replied.
After dinner, the fisherman and the angel cleaned up and prepared for bed. “Goodnight,” the fisherman said to the angel. “Goodnight,” the angel replied.
In the morning, the fisherman awoke in an empty house. The angel had already resumed his wanderings to and fro, so the fisherman went down to the lake, rowed his boat out onto the lake, cast his net, hauled in his catch, and brought it to market.
A few months later, the fisherman married the candlemaker’s daughter. They had known each other since childhood and had been in love for years. Now each morning, the fisherman’s wife would help him clean and sell his fish. Each afternoon, she would help him clean the stall in the market after all the fish were sold. And, each evening she would help him repair his fishing nets.
Eventually the fisherman and his wife had three children. The oldest went to the yeshiva and became a rabbi. Soon she became renowned throughout the country for her wisdom. The second child went to the university and became a professor. Soon he became renowned throughout the country for his intellect. The youngest child stayed home and helped his mother and father catch and sell fish. Soon he took over the fishing from his father and became renowned throughout Ezherene for his loving kindness.
And every time his grandchildren came to visit, the fisherman would always say, “Come, kinder, come listen as Zeyde tells you the story of the time he had dinner with an angel.”