The Reward for Pain

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14 Nov 2007

A Lesson For the Children – This is a story that took place about two hundred years ago in Poland. “Mushika” made a living from milking cows and processing the milk into various products. Like many other Jews at that time, he would lease his dairy from the local lord, who owned the property, for an annual fee.

This lord was a good and pleasant man, and he never harmed anybody. The problem was that he lived outside of Poland, and he placed all of his property in the hands of a hired supervisor. This supervisor was very different from his master, the lord. He loathed the Jews, and he would not miss any opportunity to cause trouble for them. Thus, Mushika’s life became very difficult. The supervisor frequently raised the rent, and if the money was not paid on time he would order that Mushika be flogged with a whip. Now and then he would visit the dairy, and each time he would find a new fault with the way it was run. And every fault meant another flogging or an even more serious punishment.

One day, a welcome rumor appeared in the area belonging to the lord: He was coming for a visit soon, in order to inspect the fields and farms that belonged to him. He would visit the farmers and also Mushika’s dairy, the local tavern, and other public institutions, to make sure that they were all operating properly.

And the day came. The lord arrived, looked at how the dairy was operating, nodded his head in approval, and started to talk with Mushika. After a few polite words, Mushika opened up his heart. He told the lord about his problems, about the constant raises in rent and about the many times he had been punished by flogging for every fault that the supervisor found. The lord was shocked to hear all of this. “Is that true? You are being flogged for no fault of your own? This cannot continue!”

And the lord immediately put the supervisor on trial. He investigated what Mushika had said, and when he found that he had told the truth he commanded that the supervisor be punished. For every time that Mushika had been struck with a whip, the supervisor was required to pay him twenty Rubles.

When the number of floggings was counted, the result was that the supervisor would have to pay Mushika the sum of two thousand Rubles, which was about half of all that he had. But he had no choice, and he promised to pay the money. He left the lord’s manor in great shame.

Meanwhile, Mushika’s wife did not know what was happening, not about the lord’s visit, and not about the talk and the trial. She began to worry about her husband and went looking for him. And then she saw him leaving the lord’s manor with a troubled look on his face. “What happened?” she asked. “Did the evil man hit you again?”

Mushika calmed her down, telling her that this time not only was he not flogged but that according to the judgment they would receive two thousand Rubles, about half the wealth of the supervisor, as punishment for all the flogging. “But in that case, why do you look so sad and unhappy?” she asked him. “Don’t you understand?” Mushika replied. “Now I am sorry that the evil supervisor didn’t flog me twice as many times! If he had continued to strike me more, we would not have received half of his wealth but all of it!”

This story is a parable. Sometimes it is worthwhile for a person to suffer in this world, so that the Almighty will reward him in the future or in the world to come. And then his reward will be greater than ever. We should understand that all of our suffering is for our own good.

Source: The Parables of the Maggid of Dubna. Email with Reactions and Suggestions for Stories. Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute ( Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Goldberg. To subscribe to receive the complete version of Shabbat B’Shabbato please write to

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.