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Study and Theory/

A Cow That Rests on Shabbat


A tale is told of a poor Chassid who had a single cow to plough with. Eventually, the Chassid had no money left and he sold his cow to a gentile. On Shabbat the gentile took the cow to plough the field. Yet the cow crouched and refused to work. So the owner stroke it, yet it didn't budge. Thereupon, the purchaser went to the Chassid who had sold him the cow and told him:

"Come and take your cow, I've had it work for six days and on the seventh day when I took it out to plough – it crouched down and wouldn't budge".

The Chassid understood why it didn't work and told the man who purchased the cow:

"Let me come with you and I'll get it to plough the field". When the Chassid came to the field he whispered in the cow's ear: "Hey, cow! When you were in my possession you would rest on Shabbat; now that I was compelled to sell you to this man, please get up and fulfil the wish of your master".

The cow then, stood up immediately and was ready to work. The astounded buyer told the Chassid: "I won't let you go until you tell me what you did to it and what you whispered in its ear. Did you, perhaps, put a spell on it"?

When the Chassid then told the buyer what he had said to the cow, the latter thought to himself: "If this cow that doesn't know how to talk and has no brains, realizes it has to fulfil the wish of its master, I, who have knowledge and understanding – should I not be aware of the laws of my Lord?"


Accordingly, the man became a proselyte and studied Torah, and his Hebrew name became, Rabbi Yochanan the son of Torta.

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