Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
THE SOPHISTICATE AND THE SIMPLETON
Once there were two householders living in the same city. They were very wealthy and had large houses. Each had a son, and the two boys learned in the same school. One was very intelligent, while the other was simple. Not that he was foolish, but he had a straightforward, humble way of thinking.
These two boys loved each other greatly, despite the fact that one was sophisticated while the other was simple with a very humble mind.
As time passed, the two householders went into decline. They sank lower and lower until they lost everything and became poor. All they had left were their houses. The boys were growing, and their two fathers said to them: "We do not have the means to support you. Go and do whatever you choose."
The Simpleton went and learned to be a shoe-maker. However the Sophisticate, who was highly intelligent, did not want to engage in such a simple craft. He decided to go out into the world and look around before deciding what to do.
He was wandering in the main street when he saw a large carriage drawn by four horses rushing through.
"Where are you from?" he cried to the merchants.
"From Warsaw ," they replied.
"Where are you going?"
"To Warsaw !"
He asked them if they needed an attendant. They saw that he was intelligent and eager, and agreed to take him with them. He traveled with them and served them very well on the journey.
On arrival in Warsaw he thought to himself, since he was very intelligent: "Now that I'm already here in Warsaw , why should I remain tied to those merchants? Maybe there is somewhere better. Let me go and see what I can find."
He went to the market and made enquiries about the men who had brought him and whether there might be some better opportunities. He was told that the merchants were decent and that it would be good to stay with them, but it would be hard, because their business took them to very distant places.
He went further and noticed the clothing-shop assistants going about with their stylish mannerisms, gait and clothing, their elegant hats and long pointed shoes. Being sharp and intelligent, he found this very appealing, particularly since one could stay in the same place without having to travel. He went to the men who had brought him and thanked them politely, telling them that he preferred not to remain with them. As for their having brought him, he had paid them with his service on the journey.
He took a position with a shopkeeper. New shop assistants had to accept low wages at first and do heavy work. Only later did they reach higher levels. The shopkeeper made him work very hard. He had to carry merchandise to wealthy customers the way shop assistants had to carry it, bending their hands under their elbows in order to hang the garment over their arm and shoulder. He found this work very onerous. Sometimes he had to carry heavy loads up steep flights of stairs, and the work was very hard for him.
With his intelligent, philosopher's mind, he thought to himself: "What do I need this work for? The ultimate goal is to get married and make a living. But I don't need to think about that yet. There will be time enough for that in years to come. The best thing for me now will be to travel the earth, visit different countries and feast my eyes on the world."
He went to the market and saw merchants traveling in a big wagon.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To Lagorna!" they replied.
"Will you take me there?"
They took him with them, and from there he went to Italy and then on to Spain . Several years passed and he became even cleverer, having been in many countries. He thought to himself: "Now I should focus on the main goal."
With his philosophical mind he began to think what to do. He decided it would be a good thing to learn to work with gold. This was a prestigious and attractive craft requiring skill and wisdom, and it was also one that could bring wealth. Being highly intelligent and a philosopher, he did not need many years to learn the craft. In no more than a quarter of a year he acquired the necessary skill and became an outstanding craftsman. He was even more expert than the craftsman who taught him.
Afterwards he thought to himself: "Even though I have such a skill in hand, it is still not enough for me. Today this craft is prestigious, but perhaps at some other time another craft will be prestigious." He took a position with a gem-cutter, and because of his deep understanding he learned this craft too in very little time - a quarter of a year.
Then he began philosophizing: "Even though I have two crafts in my hands, who knows? Perhaps neither of them will be prestigious. It would be good for me to learn a skill that will always be important. Using his intelligence and philosophy to examine the matter, he decided to study medicine since this is always in demand and prestigious. To learn medicine, one first had to learn Latin and how to write it , as well as science and philosophy. With his quick mind he learned this too in very little time - a quarter of a year - and he became a great doctor and philosopher and an expert in all fields of knowledge.
Afterwards the whole world came to be as nothing in his eyes, for because of his great wisdom as a master craftsman, sage and doctor, everyone else in the world seemed to him like nothing. He decided to pursue the main goal - to get married - but he said to himself:
"If I marry a woman here, who will know what has become of me? Let me go back home so that they will see what has become of me. I was a small boy, and now I have achieved such greatness!"
He journeyed home, but suffered greatly on the way. Because of his great wisdom, he had nobody to talk to. He could not find satisfactory accommodation, and he suffered very greatly.
Let us now set aside the story of the Sophisticate for a while and tell the story of the Simpleton.
The Simpleton learned how to make shoes, but because he was simple, it took him a long time before he grasped it. Indeed, he was not completely proficient in his craft, but he married and made a living from his work. Being simple, however, and not too proficient in his work, his living was very scanty. He did not even have time to eat since, not being fully proficient, he had to work constantly . As he worked busily, driving the awl through the leather, inserting the thick thread and drawing it through in the way shoemakers do, he would take a bite of bread.
He was always happy: he was simply full of joy all the time. He possessed every kind of food, drink and clothing. He would say to his wife: "My wife! Give me to eat!" She would give him a piece of bread and he would eat it. Afterwards he would say: "Give me beans and gravy." She would cut him another slice of bread and he would eat it, praising the food. "This gravy is so beautiful! It is so good!"
He would ask her to give him meat and other good foods. For every kind of food that he requested, she would give him a piece of bread. He would take the most exquisite delight in it, highly praising the food - "So tasty! So good!" - as if he was actually eating that very food. And the truth is that when he ate the bread, he actually did taste each kind of food that he wanted, all because of his great simplicity and joy.
Likewise he would say to his wife: "Give me liquor!" She would give him water, and he would praise it highly. "What beautiful liquor this is! Give me honey mead!" She would give him water, and he would praise the mead. "Give me wine!" She would give him water, and he would enjoy it and praise it as if he was actually drinking the drink he had requested.
As for their clothes, he and his wife possessed one single thick sheepskin coat which they had to share. When he needed to wear an overcoat to go to the market, he would say, "My wife, give me the overcoat!" and she would give it to him. When he needed to wear a fine fur coat to make a social visit, he would say, "My wife, give me the fur coat!" She would give him the sheepskin and he would take great delight in it, praising it lavishly: "What a beautiful fur coat this is!"
When he needed a caftan to go to the synagogue, he would say to his wife, "Give me the caftan!" She would give him the sheepskin and he would praise it saying, "What a fine, beautiful caftan this is!" Similarly, when he needed to wear a silk coat, she would give him the sheepskin. He would praise it and take the utmost delight in it: "What a lovely, beautiful silk coat!" He was simply filled with joy and delight at all times.
When he finished making a shoe, it would all too often turn out triangular as he was not fully proficient in his craft. But he would take the shoe in his hand and praise it greatly. He would take enormous delight in it, saying: "My wife, how beautiful and wonderful this shoe is. How sweet this shoe is. This shoe is pure honey and sugar!"
"If so," she would ask, "why do the other shoemakers take three gold coins for a pair of shoes while you only receive one and a half?"
"What do I care?" he would answer. "That is their work and this is my work! Besides , why do we need to speak about others? Let us work out how much clear profit I make on this shoe. The leather costs such and such; the glue, the thread , the filling cost such and such. In the end I make a profit of ten groschen! Why should I mind when I make such a profit." He was simply filled with joy and delight at all times.
Most people considered him ridiculous and found him the perfect target for their scorn and derision, because he seemed like a madman. People would approach him and start a conversation for the sole purpose of ridiculing him. The Simpleton would say, "As long as you don't mock!" If they spoke without mocking, he would listen to what they had to say and engage in conversation.
He never tried to probe people's intentions too deeply, for this itself is a form of mockery. He was a simple person. If he saw that their intention was to mock, he would say, "So what if you are cleverer than me? Surely you will then be nothing but a fool. Am I so important that it is a great thing to be cleverer than me? If you are cleverer than me, you are a fool!"
All these were the ways of the Simpleton. Now let us return to the main story.
One day there was a huge commotion, for the Sophisticate was on his way home with great pomp and deep wisdom. The Simpleton also ran to meet him with tremendous joy. "Quick!" he called to his wife. "Give me the silk coat - I must go to meet my dear friend!" She gave him the sheepskin and he ran to meet him.
The Sophisticate was traveling in a horse-drawn carriage in magnificent style, and the Simpleton came to meet him full of joy, lovingly asking him how he was.
"My dear brother! How are you? Praise be to God for bringing you and granting me the privilege of seeing you!"
In the eyes of the Sophisticate, the entire world was as nothing - all the more so a man like this, who seemed like a madman. Still, because of their great boyhood love, he was friendly to him and journeyed with him into the city.
Now the two householders, the fathers of these two sons, had died during the time the Sophisticate had been traveling from country to country, but their two houses remained. The Simpleton, who had stayed at home, entered his father's house and inherited it. However, because the Sophisticate had been away, there had been no-one to take care of his father's house, which was in complete ruins. Nothing was left of it and he had nowhere to go when he arrived. He went to an inn, but he suffered there because the inn was not to his taste.
Now the Simpleton found a new occupation. He would run from his house to the Sophisticate, filled with love and joy. He could see how much he was suffering at the inn. The Simpleton said to the Sophisticate: "My brother! Come to my house and stay with me! I will put everything I have into one corner and the whole house will be at your disposal." The Sophisticate liked the idea, and moved into the Simpleton's house and stayed with him.
The Sophisticate was constantly full of pain and suffering. He had a reputation for being an outstanding sage, a master craftsman and a doctor. A certain nobleman came and ordered a gold ring. The Sophisticate made a very wonderful ring engraved with extraordinary designs including an amazing tree. But when the nobleman came, he did not like the ring at all. The Sophisticate suffered terribly, because he knew that in Spain such a ring with a tree like this would be considered quite outstanding.
Another time a great nobleman arrived bringing a very expensive jewel from a far-off land. He also had another precious stone engraved with a certain design, and instructed him to engrave the same design on the jewel he had brought. The Sophisticate engraved exactly the same design on the jewel except that he made one change that nobody besides himself could possibly notice. The nobleman came and took the stone and was delighted, but the Sophisticate suffered terrible pain because of his mistake. "I have attained such a level of wisdom - how could I accidentally make a mistake?"
He also suffered in his medical practice. When he visited a patient, he would prescribe a medicine which he knew for certain would definitely cure the patient if he had any chance of survival, because it was an exceptional remedy. But if the patient afterwards died, people would say it was because of the medicine, and he suffered greatly because of this. Conversely he would sometimes treat a patient and the patient would be cured, but people said it was mere chance. Thus the Sophisticate was constantly full of misery.
It was the same when he needed a garment. He would summon the tailor and go to great lengths to explain to him how to make the garment exactly as he wanted in accordance with his deeper understanding. The tailor did exactly as the Sophisticate instructed him, making the garment just as he wanted it, with the exception of one lapel, where he went slightly wrong and failed to follow the instructions exactly.
The Sophisticate suffered terrible pain as a result. He knew that even though the garment was considered beautiful here, this was only because the local people had no understanding of tailoring. "If I was in Spain with this lapel, I would be the laughing stock of all!" Thus it was that he was constantly full of suffering.
Each time the Simpleton would come running to the Sophisticate full of joy, only to find him miserable and wracked with pain.
"Why should someone as wise and wealthy as you are endure constant suffering?" asked the Simpleton. "Look at me - I am constantly full of joy!"
However in the eyes of the Sophisticate, the Simpleton was ridiculous and seemed like a madman.
"If most people ridicule me," said the Simpleton, "surely they are the fools. For if they are wiser than me, on the contrary - they are fools. This applies all the more to a wise man like you. What will it make you if you are wiser than me? If only." concluded the Simpleton, ".if only you could reach my level!"
"It is quite possible," replied the Sophisticate, "that I could come to your level - if Heaven forbid my intelligence was taken from me or if I became ill, in which case I might go mad. For what are you if not a madman? But for you to come to my level would be quite impossible. There is no way that you could become wise like me."
But the Simpleton replied: "For God, everything is possible. It might be that I could reach your level in the wink of an eye!"
The Sophisticate simply laughed at him.
In the wider world these two friends were known as the Sophisticate and the Simpleton. Although the world contains many sophisticated and many simple people, nevertheless the traits of sophistication and simplicity were particularly evident in the case of these two. They were both from the same place and had learned together. One had become exceptionally wise and sophisticated while the other was exceptionally simple and straightforward. In the Population Registry, where everyone is inscribed with his family name, the one was registered as "The Sophisticate" and the other as "The Simpleton".
Once the king paid a visit to the Population Registry and found these two individuals registered respectively as "The Sophisticate" and "The Simpleton". The king had a great desire to see them. He thought to himself:
"If I suddenly send for them to appear before me, they will be very frightened. The Sophisticate will be tongue-tied and unable to express any of his arguments, while the Simpleton might go out of his mind through fear."
The king decided to send a sophisticated messenger to the Sophisticate and a simple messenger to the Simpleton. The problem was how to find a simple person in the capital city, where people are mostly very sophisticated. Only the officer over the treasuries is chosen specifically for his simplicity and honesty, since nobody wants a sophisticate in charge of the treasuries. His very sophistication and intelligence could lead him to waste all the resources. For this reason a simple, honest person is chosen as the officer in charge of the treasuries.
The king summoned a sophisticated individual together with the simpleton who was in charge of the treasuries and he sent them to the Sophisticate and the Simpleton. The king gave letters to each of the two messengers together with a letter to the governor of the local province under whose jurisdiction the two lived.
In his letter to the provincial governor, the king gave instructions to send the letters to the Sophisticate and the Simpleton under the governor's name, in order that they should not panic. He was to write to them that there was no urgency and the king was not specifically ordering them to come. It was up to them to do as they wished. If they so desired, they were to come - but the king wished to see them.
The two messengers, one sophisticated and the other simple, traveled to the local province and gave the letter to the governor . The governor enquired about the Sophisticate and the Simpleton. He was informed that the Sophisticate was exceptionally wise and very wealthy, while the Simpleton was extremely simple and straightforward, having only one sheepskin to serve for every kind of dress.
The governor realized that it would certainly not be proper to bring him before the king wearing the sheepskin, so he had proper clothes made for him which he placed in the carriage that was to collect the Simpleton. He gave the messengers the letters and they traveled there and handed them the letters. The sophisticated messenger delivered his letter to the Sophisticate, while the simple messenger gave the Simpleton his.
On receiving the letter, the Simpleton immediately said: "But I don't know what's written in it - read it to me!"
"I'll tell you what it says," replied the messenger. "The king wants you to come to him."
"As long as you're not joking," said the Simpleton.
"Certainly not," said the messenger. "It's true! No joking."
The Simpleton was immediately filled with joy and ran to tell his wife.
"My wife, the king has sent for me!"
"Why?" she asked. "For what purpose?"
But the Simpleton had no time to answer her and rushed away happily to set off with the messenger. He climbed into the carriage and sat down. When he discovered the clothes, he was even happier.
In the meantime information about misdemeanors on the part of the governor reached the king, who removed him. The king came to the conclusion that it would be best to have a simple, honest person as governor since such a person would run the province truthfully, knowing nothing of sophistication and deceit.
The king decided to appoint the Simpleton as governor, and issued a decree to that effect. In any case the Simpleton had to travel via the provincial capital. They were to wait for him at the gates of the city. On his arrival they were to stop him immediately and inaugurate him as governor. They waited at the gates and as soon as the Simpleton arrived, they stopped him and told him that he had been appointed governor.
"You're not joking?" he asked.
"Certainly not - no joking!" they replied. The Simpleton immediately took up the position of governor with all force and strength.
And now that his fortune was on the rise - and good fortune makes a person wise - he attained greater understanding, even though he did not make use of his wisdom at all, conducting himself with his usual simple honesty . He governed the province sincerely and honestly, truthfully and fairly, without a trace of corruption.
To run a province, there is no need for great intelligence and sophistication but only fairness, simplicity and sincerity. When two people appear ed before him in a law case, he would declare, "You are guilty and you are innocent," in simple honest truth without craftiness or deceit. He conducted himself truthfully and honestly in everything.
The people of the province adored him, and he had advisers who truly loved him. Out of love, one of them gave him some advice:
"You will quite definitely be called to come before the king. He has already summoned you, and in any case the governor is obliged to appear before the king. Although you are very honest and run the province without any trace of corruption, the way of the king is to steer the conversation to deep ideas and foreign languages. Out of propriety and politeness you ought to be able to answer him. It would be a good idea for me to teach you some philosophical ideas and foreign languages."
The Simpleton saw that this was a good suggestion, and said, "Why should I mind if I learn some deep ideas and languages?" He immediately recalled that his friend the Sophisticate had told him it would be quite impossible for him ever to reach his level - yet now he had already attained his wisdom. Even so, despite his already having attained a grasp of sophisticated wisdom, he made no use of sophisticated ideas at all. He conducted himself in all things with his usual honest simplicity.
Afterwards the king summoned the Simpleton-Governor. He traveled to the king, who discussed with him the government of the province. The Simpleton made a very good impression on the king, who saw that he governed with great justice and truth and without any corruption or deceit. The king then began discussing deep ideas and foreign languages. The Simpleton gave the appropriate answers, which particularly impressed the king, who said, "I see that he is so very wise, yet even so he governs with such honest simplicity."
This found very great favor in the eyes of the king, who appointed the Simpleton as Minister-in-Chief over all his other ministers. The king designated a special place for his residence, giving instructions to build him a fitting palace of great beauty and splendor. He gave him a written certificate attesting to his appointment as Minister-in-Chief over all the other ministers. And so it was: they built him a residence in the very place the king had designated, and he became very great and powerful.
As for the Sophisticate, when the king's letter arrived, he said to the sophisticated messenger who brought it: "Wait! Stay here tonight and we will give the matter careful consideration." That evening he made him a great feast, during which the Sophisticate applied his wisdom and philosophy with the utmost sophistication.
"What is this?" he asked. "The king has sent for me ? For a lowly creature like me??? What am I that the king should send for me? The king is so great and powerful. I am lowly and despicable compared with such a great and awesome king. It makes no sense that such a king should send for a lowly creature like me. If I say it is because of my wisdom, what am I compared to the king? Does the king not have wise men? Moreover, the king himself must certainly be very wise. Why would the king send for me?"
The Sophisticate was very perplexed. He said to the king's sophisticated messenger: "Mark my words. In my opinion it is quite logical and obvious that there really is no king in the world at all. Everyone is mistaken about this nonsense, because they think there is a king. Consider: how is it possible that all the people in the world would subject themselves to one man to be their king? Without any doubt, there is no king over the world at all."
"But did I not bring you a letter from the king?" replied the sophisticated messenger.
"Did you yourself actually receive the letter from the hand of the king himself?" asked the Sophisticate.
"No," replied the messenger, "Someone else gave me the letter in the king's name."
"You see!" cried the Sophisticate. "What I'm saying is right: there is no king at all." He questioned him further: "You yourself come from the capital city - you grew up there and you've lived there all your life. Tell me: have you ever seen the king in your whole life?"
"No," replied the messenger - because the truth is that not everyone gets to see the king, who appears only very rarely.
"You see!" cried the Sophisticate. "You see! What I am saying is perfectly correct. There is definitely no king at all. Even you have never seen the king."
"If so," asked the sophisticated messenger, "who runs the country?"
"I will explain that to you quite clearly," replied the Sophisticate, "because I am the right person to ask as I have traveled in many countries. I was in Italy , where they have seventy advisory ministers, each of whom governs the country for a set period of time. This way everyone in the land has a turn at running the country, one after the other."
His words began to penetrate the ears of the sophisticated messenger until they both agreed and declared that "There is certainly no king over the world at all!"
"Wait until morning," cried the Sophisticate. "I will give you proof after proof that there is no king in the world at all."
The Sophisticate rose early the next morning and woke up his friend the sophisticated messenger, saying: "Come outside with me. I will prove to you clearly that the entire world is in error. The truth is that there is no king at all and they are all greatly mistaken."
They went to the market and saw a soldier. They grabbed him and asked him:
"Who m do you serve?"
"The king," he replied.
"Have you ever seen the king in your life?"
"You see!" said the Sophisticate. "Is there any greater folly?"
Next they approached an army officer and entered into a conversation with him.
"Who m do you serve?" they asked.
"The king," he replied.
"Have you ever seen the king?"
"You can see it with your own eyes," cried the Sophisticate. "It is perfectly clear that they are all mistaken and there is no king in the world at all."
They both agreed that there was no king at all.
"Come!" cried the Sophisticate. "Let us travel the world and I will give you further proof that the whole world is greatly mistaken."
They went off and traveled the world. Wherever they went, they found everyone to be in error. They started using the idea of the king as an example. Wherever they found people to be mistaken about anything, they cited the idea of the king as an example. "This misconception is as true as the idea that there is a king!"
They continued traveling until they had used up everything they had. First they sold one horse and then another, until they had sold them all and were forced to go on foot. They were constantly questioning everyone and finding them to be in error. They went about on foot, impoverished, disrespectable beggars to whom no- one paid any attention.
They went around until they came to the city where the Minister - the Simpleton - lived. In the same town lived a true miracle worker, who was very highly respected as he performed extraordinary wonders. He was even known and respected by the leading ministers.
When these two sophisticates arrived in the town, they wandered around until they came to the house of the miracle worker. They saw numerous carriages waiting there, as many as forty or fifty, with sick people. The Sophisticate inferred that it must be the house of a doctor. He wanted to enter and make his acquaintance, as he himself was a great doctor.
"Who lives here?" he asked.
"The miracle worker," they replied.
The Sophisticate burst out laughing and said to his friend, "This is a most exceptional falsehood and error. This is even more foolish than the mistake about the king. My friend, let me explain what a lie this is and how greatly mistaken the world is about such deceit."
Meanwhile they became hungry. They found that they still had three or four coins, so they went to a cook shop where one could get food for as little as three or four coins. They ordered, and the food was brought to them.
As they ate, they chatted and joked about the lie and error about the miracle worker. The owner of the cook shop heard what they were saying and became very angry, because the miracle worker was highly respected there. "Finish your food," he cried, "and get out of here."
Afterwards the miracle worker's son arrived. They continued joking about the miracle worker in front of his son. The owner of the cook shop scolded them for joking about the miracle worker in front of his son. He gave them a good beating and threw them out of his house.
They were extremely angry and wanted to sue the man who beat them. They decided to go to the owner of their lodgings, where they had left their bundles of belongings, to ask him how to start legal proceedings. They told him that the owner of the cook shop had given them a severe beating. When he asked them why, they told him that they had spoken against the miracle worker.
"It is certainly not right to beat people," replied the owner of the lodgings. "But you did not do the right thing at all in speaking against the miracle worker. He is very highly respected here."
They saw that the owner of the lodgings was a nothing and that he too was in error. From there they went to the town clerk, who was a gentile. They told him the story of how they had been beaten. "Why?" he asked. They answered that they had spoken against the miracle worker. The town clerk also gave them a severe beating and threw them out of his house.
They went from one officer to the next, higher and higher, until they came to the Minister-in-Chief. Troops were standing guard in front of his house. The minister was informed that a man needed to see him and he gave orders for him to enter.
As soon as the Sophisticate entered, the Minister recognized him as his friend the Sophisticate. However, the Sophisticate did not recognize the Simpleton now that he had attained such greatness. The Minister immediately said to him:
"See where my simplicity has brought me - to such greatness. And where has your wisdom brought you?"
"As to your being my friend the Simpleton," replied the Sophisticate, "let us talk about that later. But now I demand justice, because they beat me."
"Why?" asked the Minister.
"Because I spoke out against the miracle worker," replied the Sophisticate, "because it's a lie and a big deception".
"So you still hold by your sophisticated ideas?" said the Simpleton-Minister. "You see! You said that you could easily attain my level but that I could not attain your level. Yet I have already reached your level of wisdom, whereas you have still not reached my level. I see that it is harder for you to attain my simple honesty!"
Even so, since he knew him from before when he was at the height of his greatness, the Minister gave orders to give him clothes and invited him to eat with him.
As they ate they started talking, and the Sophisticate began proving his opinion that there is no king at all. The Minister rebuked him.
"Haven't I myself seen the king?"
The Sophisticate answered him with a laugh. "Do you really know that it was the king? Did you recognize him? Did you know for sure that his father and grandfather were kings? How do you know that this was the king? People told you this was the king - they deceived you with a lie."
The Simpleton was very angry over the Sophisticate's denial of the king's existence.
In the meantime someone came and said: "The Devil has sent for you."
The Simpleton was extremely shaken. He ran in great trepidation to his wife to tell her who had sent for him. She advised him to send for the miracle worker. He did so, and the miracle worker came and gave him amulets and other protection, telling him that he now had no reason to fear. The Simpleton had great faith in this.
The Simpleton carried on sitting with Sophisticate, who asked him: "What made you so frightened?"
"It was because of the one that sent for us."
The Sophisticate laughed at him. "Do you really believe there is such a thing as the Devil?"
"If not, then who sent for us?"
"It must be my brother!" replied the Sophisticate. "He wants to see me and he played this trick to send for me."
"If so," asked the Simpleton, "how did he get through all the guards?"
"He must have bribed them, and they are all lying, saying they never saw him at all."
Meanwhile someone else came and said the same thing: "The Devil has sent for you."
The Simpleton was now unshaken. He was not afraid at all because of the protection given by the miracle worker.
"Now what do you say?" he asked the Sophisticate.
"I must inform you," replied the Sophisticate, "that I have a brother who is angry with me. He is playing this trick in order to frighten me."
The Sophisticate stood up and said to the messenger who came for them: "What does he look like - the one who sent for us? What kind of face does he have? What kind of hair.?"
The messenger described him.
"See!" cried the Sophisticate. "That is exactly what my brother looks like."
"Will you go with them," asked the Simpleton.
"Yes!" replied the Sophisticate. "Just give me some soldiers to go with me so that they don't hurt me."
The Minister provided him with an escort of soldiers, and the Sophisticate and his friend, the sophisticated messenger, went off with the man who had summoned them. Afterwards the soldiers returned.
"Where are those sophisticates?" asked the Minister.
The soldiers replied that they had disappeared - they had no idea how.
For the Devil had kidnapped these two sophisticates and brought them to the muddy bog. The Devil sat on a throne in the bog and threw the sophisticates into the mud. The mud was thick and sticky like clay.
As the two sophisticates were tortured, they screamed out:
"You wicked villains! Why are you torturing us? Does such a thing as the Devil really exist? You are wicked villains, torturing us for nothing!"
These sophisticates still did not believe that such a thing as the Devil really exists. They thought that evil men were torturing them for no reason. The two sophisticates lay there in the thick mud trying to understand what was happening.
"They are nothing but wild ruffians we quarreled with once, and now they are torturing us so much!"
They suffered terrible tortures for many years.
Once the Simpleton-Minister was passing by the miracle worker's house and he remembered his friend the Sophisticate. He came before the miracle worker and bowed, as noblemen do. He asked him if it would be possible for him to see the Sophisticate and if there was a way to release him.
"Do you remember the Sophisticate that the Devil summoned and took away?" he asked. "I have not seen him ever since."
"Yes," replied the miracle worker.
The Minister asked him to show him where he was and to release him. The miracle worker replied: "I can certainly show you where he is and take him out, but no- one must go except me and you."
They went together and with the miracle worker' s help they came to the place.
There they were, lying in the thick mud and quicksand. When the Sophisticate saw the Minister, he screamed out: "My brother! See how these wicked villains are beating and torturing me so terribly over nothing!"
The Minister rebuked him. "You still cling to your sophisticated ideas and you don't believe in anything. According to you, these are human beings. Now see! Isn't this the miracle worker that you denied? Yet he, and only he, has the power to release you. He will show you the truth."
The Minister asked the miracle worker to take them out and show them that this was the Devil and his cohorts, and not human beings.
The miracle worker released them , and they were left standing on dry land. There was no mud there at all. The destroying angels turned into mere dust.
The Sophisticate saw it all, and he was forced to admit to the truth, that there is a king.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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