The Dishonest Finder
Once, two people came before the Gaon Rabbi Meir Margolis (author of Meir Nesivim) with a complaint. They both were holding the same five-ruble note and shouting that it belonged to each of them.
"It is mine!" shouted the first person. "I saw it first." "It's a lie!" shouted the second person. "I picked it up first !"
Quieting them, the gaon asked, "Have either of you any proof of your claims?"
Both shook their heads and remained silent.
It was indeed a very difficult case to decide. But the gaon, who was known to have one of the sharpest minds in the country, turned to them and said, "Excuse me for a moment while I show this note to my wife who is in the next room."
Taking the note, he walked out of the room, making sure to leave the door ajar so that his voice could be heard by the two litigants.
"I certainly have a difficult problem here," the gaon said to his wife in a loud voice. "Each of these two men claims the five-ruble note, but neither can prove that it is rightfully his. The oddest thing about this is that they don't know that one of the corners of the note is slightly torn off."
A few minutes later the rabbi returned to the litigants.
Suddenly, one of the men jumped up and in a joyful tone exclaimed, "Rabbi, I suddenly realized that I can prove that the note is mine!"
"Excellent!" said the rabbi. "What is your proof?"
"The note is torn in one of the corners," he said in a jubilant tone.
"Torn in one of the corners!" the gaon exclaimed with pretended surprise. "Look, there is not a tear on this note. Clearly then it is not yours. It must belong to your friend."
The gaon then handed it over to the other man, realizing that the first man was dishonest, and a dishonest person can never be believed.
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Page last updated - 05/15/2009