Jr. Jewish World

Zeidy Zalman tells the terrible tale of "The Snitch"

Children's Chanukah coloring page by Naftali Cisner

Children's Chanukah puzzle by Naftali Cisner

Law and Order's Steven Hill reads the Best of Olomeinu (RealAudio)

Reader Response

Jr. Jewish World
December 10, 1997 / 11 Kislev, 5758

The Snitch

Zeidy Zalman! Maybe "The Snitch" doesn't sound scary, but this snitch was a bully of the worst kind. Sit by the fire and listen while your own Zeidy Zalman tells a tale of fear -- that comes out well in the end.

THERE ONCE WAS A MAN of very bad character who lived in the same town as the famous Dzikover Rebbe. He was a rahsha, an individual who epitomized evil. He took great pleasure in seeing his fellow Jews suffer. Some people like to collect coins, stamps, or baseball cards for a hobby, to have fun. This individual had fun in other, more warped ways. He got his kicks from going to the authorities and lying about individuals he didn't like -- maybe because of the color of their hair, or even because he thought a person was too tall or too short. And unlike today, where there are laws that govern how someone accused of a crime may be treated, in the olden days in Eastern Europe, just being accused of a crime could get you sent to jail for a few days at a time and often beaten.

News of the Snitch reached the ears of the Dzikover Rebbe and he wrote him a strongly-worded letter warning him to desist from his evil ways. Being the man he was, though, the man simply tore the letter up. But not before sending a response to the Rebbe informing him that not only was he going to continue his perverted "fun," but the Rebbe himself was going to be his next victim.

The Rebbe became distraught. He sent a letter detailing the situation to his relative and close friend, the Sanzer Rav, who enjoyed a reputation as not only a wise man, but also a saint. It arrived the next day.

At 12:30 a.m. that night, the Sanzer Rav stopped his studying for the day and took out his quill to answer the Rebbe's letter. The letter, which was filled primarily with Torah thoughts, had a few lines toward the end about his ordeal:


The letter was sealed at 12:45 a.m.

A few hours later, a messenger delivered the letter to the Rebbe, who was comforted by its words.

And the Snitch? He decided to waste no time in carrying out his threat against the Rebbe. On the very day that the Rebbe's message arrived in Sanz, the Snitch was traveling to Lemberg where the authorities' main office was. He was going to tell them that the Rebbe was a smuggler and have him arrested.

Though the journey was a long one, he simply didn't care. The Rebbe, after all, dared to stand up to him.

When he arrived in Lemberg, it was already after midnight. A bitter winter night, everyone in town had already gone to sleep. In the distance, the Snitch spotted a light, which turned out to be a bakery.

"Please, have mercy on me and let me in. I have nowhere to sleep tonight," the Snitch begged as he pounded on the door.

The baker opened up and led the Snitch to a room with an empty shelf.

"If you are really so desperate as you claim, then you can rest there," the baker said.

The Snitch accepted. Within a few seconds he was sound asleep.

The baker continued his work. He looked up at the clock, which read 12:40.

"I should just manage to finish before the first customer comes," he thought.

These reflections were interrupted by a loud crash from the next room. He dashed in and encountered a dreadful scene. The shelf had collapsed and the Snitch had landed head-first on the stone floor. He was dead.

Searching through the Snitch's belongings, he found his home address and immediately penned a letter to his widow.

News of the Snitch's death, and especially the time it occurred, spread like wildfire in Dzikov.

"This is nothing less than a moyfes (miracle)," the Rebbe declared and immediately decided to journey to Sanz to meet his friend the Sanzer Rav.

When the two met, the Rebbe repeated his observation.

"You are mistaken," the Sanzer responded respectfully. "Let me explain."

"When I hear of troubles plaguing a close friend like you, I cannot help but to feel your pain, as if your worries were my very own. This was certainly the case when I read the letter about the Snitch," he offered. "As I began writing my letter to you, my heart was heavy with anguish. I felt actually angry.

"But as I was ending the letter, my heart all of a sudden became light. It was then that I knew the Creator had delivered justice and that your community's problem was finally solved. There is, after all, only so much evil the Creator will allow a man to preform -- and his victim to endure -- before He puts and end to it once and for all. A human, of course, has free will, the ability to good and bad. But everything has a limit. And our Snitch, no doubt, passed his."


©1997, Jewish World Review