Sunday, March 22, 2009

Inasmuch

2 1/2 years ago or so I read the story below on, of all sites, Little Green Footballs, in a comments thread. I have gone back since then and tried diligently to find that comment with the story, but I haven't been able to find it, so you'll have to take my word for it. I no longer read LGF. It's changed for the worse (to put it mildly). But this story will always remain with me and deserves to be told and heard more widely, even though it is hearsay. The comment author said that a family friend used to tell this story about herself--that is, she was the woman in the story--at meals with his family. And here it is, in my words, and as I remember it. I am not sure that the city was Odessa, though it was in that part of the world.

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Once there was a woman who lived in Odessa. The Nazis came, and they began killing the Jews. One early morning, the woman went out with a basket on her arm to shop. As she was walking across a square in the city, she saw a large group of children coming, marshaled by a soldier. When they got near, the soldier said to her, "Ma'am, can you take any of these children with you? Perhaps even just one? They are Jewish children, and where I am taking them, they will die." One beautiful little boy broke away from the group and ran up to her. "Auntie," he said, "Please take me with you. I promise I won't eat much." She looked down at him for a moment, and then she slowly shook her head and hurried on. A few streets away, she was suddenly horrified at herself. She ran back to the square, but the children and the soldier were gone, and she never saw any of them again. And later in life, the only thing she could do to make amends was to tell what she had done.

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And Jesus took a little child, and set him by him, and said unto them, "Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me."

Then shall the King say to those on his left, "Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto the least of these, ye have not done it unto me."

3 comments:

william luse said...

quite a story. She reminds me of the Ancient Mariner.

alaiyo said...

Exactly my thought, Bill. Great minds . . . :)

Lydia McGrew said...

I never thought of that. Good comparison.

What I did think of is how much Jewish stories, even true ones, often have these startling Christian overtones to them. Obviously, if this is true, there is no _intention_ about that, but even in the fictional ones it happens where it seems like there is no intention. For example, in _The Chosen_ the rabbi believes he has to take upon himself the griefs of his whole people. That is what it means in his world to be a tzaddik. And he says to his son at the end, "The world needs a tzaddik." In a sense, Potok _must_ have known how that would sound to a Christian, but in another sense it was so very Jewish.

And as for this story--well, Jesus was a little Jewish boy once, too.