Batya Karelitz sat by the counter in her shop, which was now
without any customers, studying her account books. Again and
again, she pored over the many expenses, pondering over her
state of affairs. The goods were bought on installment, and
many of these bills were soon due, but the cash box was
almost empty! She recalled her husband's words that when it
comes to parnosso, they should make an honest effort,
but realize that the rest was up to Heaven.
With this thought, the furrow on her brow smoothed out and a
smile appeared on her face. She had fulfilled her duty as far
as effort was concerned; now she must fulfill it with regards
to trust in Hashem. And even though the shop was empty, their
needs would be fulfilled somehow.
Strangely, as though sent from Heaven, she thought, several
customers walked in through the door. Batya Karelitz raised
her eyes and smiled at them. She was surprised, however, to
note that they were gentiles, but she was sure that they had
been sent from Heaven to help pay the debts. Communication
with these gentiles was not as smooth as she would have
wished, since she barely spoke Lithuanian, but somehow, with
hand motions, a sale was transacted and Batya felt satisfied
and was glad for the cash in hand.
As she watched the group leave, however, she became
suspicious. Something about their smiles made her uneasy
— they were almost smirks. And there was something
arrogant and hostile, almost, about their demeanor. Did she
detect cruelty on their faces, as well? Had they stolen
Batya walked over to the place where they had stood and found
a sheaf of documents lying on the floor. Just as she was
bending down to pick them up, a policeman walked in, snatched
the papers away and barked, "What are these?"
Confused and frightened, Batya tried to glance at them. She
dared not tug them out of the policeman's hands. "I-I really
don't know, m-myself. I saw them lying here on the floor just
n-now," she stammered. She stretched her arm to receive them
but he refused to relinquish them.
Batya felt threatened and helpless. The officer looked at her
with a mysterious smile as he pocketed the papers and stalked
out of the store.
Batya stood there, transfixed, for a few moments. She looked
at the bright sunlight shining in and tried to calm herself
that all was well. What could have been in those papers?
And why am I so upset? she asked herself. For the next
few moments her attention was diverted by a few regular
customers who came in, wanting to be served. She almost
forgot the strange incident.
Shortly afterwards, however, the officer returned and thrust
an official looking paper at her. She took it — it was
a court summons. She was ordered to appear before the judges.
The charges against her were: theft.
"Who can possibly accuse me of theft?" she blurted.
"Everything is written down in these documents. Read them and
you'll know who is accusing you and who are the witnesses."
With these brief words, the officer turned on his heel and
stalked out of the store as before.
Who could be accusing me of theft? What could I have
stolen? she wondered. She was not well-versed enough in
Lithuanian legal jargon to understand the fine points of the
summons. "I'll go to Avrohom Yeshaya," she thought. "He is
much more familiar with such terminology. In any case, he
will surely know what to do."
At home, she stood in front of the door to the Chazon Ish's
study and tried to listen. His voice rang out with the sweet
melody of Torah study. Batya waited for him to pause, not
wanting to interrupt him. She was suddenly reminded of what
her husband had said about Yosef Hatzaddik and his minute
lack of trust in Hashem. He had asked the royal butler to
mention his name before Pharaoh, and for this, he had been
punished with an additional two years in prison. Isn't it
strange that Yosef was punished for such a minimal effort,
when that is what he should have done, in any case?
Her husband had explained at the time that "It seems that not
everything which appears as a genuine effort is really just
that. Let us examine Yosef's act. The character of the royal
butler certainly showed that he only had his own advancement
in mind. He would surely not wish to remind the king of his
crime. He would surely try to erase all memory of Yosef and
would, therefore, not mention him to Pharaoh. In that case,
it was clear that Yosef's request was not an act of
hishtadlus, and therefore, he should not have asked
for that favor."
Reflecting upon this idea, Batya, waiting in front of the
door, wondered if she, too, was not being punished for
mistaking the gentile customers as her vehicle of Divine
Suddenly she noticed that the door had opened and her
husband's disciple had left the room. There was a noticeable
pause in the learning.
Batya knocked on the open door and then entered. R' Avrohom
Yeshaya was surprised to see her there. She handed him the
papers to read and waited.
He soon lifted his eyes and looked alarmed. "You have been
summoned before a court of justice. You are being accused of
having stolen goods in your store. The prosecutor claims you
stole an expensive piece of material from his store and even
has witnesses to testify. The police confiscated receipts for
the stolen goods which bear the name of the true owner and he
claims this as proof that you stole the cloth."
He flipped through the other documents. "These are the
testimonies of the store owner and the witnesses. Now tell
me, Batya, what is this all about?"
She told him what had happened. "But it's all a lie! I never
stole anything; you know that. I have receipts for every bolt
of cloth displayed in the store!"
R' Avrohom Yeshaya studied the papers again. "The signators
here are all gentiles. The court will sit on the case next
week. I imagine that the witnesses will have no problem
swearing falsely or the judge in accepting their testimony.
It is useless to attempt a defense as Jews against gentiles.
No one will listen to our side, no less believe it. The only
recourse we have at this point is to pray."
For the next few days, the Chazon Ish closeted himself in his
study and prayed with all his heart. His wife, Batya, prayed
as well. Her mind was constantly on the upcoming trial and
her lips continually formed words of prayer.
The accuser walked the streets, secure of victory, a knowing
smirk on his face. He was actually looking forward to the
courtroom scene. Then, a day before the appointed time, the
same officer walked into the store and handed Batya a
different paper. A customer in the store helped her with the
foreign language. The paper stated:
"The court has dismissed the case."
Batya rushed to inform her husband. "What happened to make
them change their mind?" asked the Chazon Ish.
It soon became known to all that the accuser had died very
suddenly. It was as if he had dug his own grave . . .