Several years later, the two brothers again visited Lodmir. This time, they were official guests of the community, which had requested that the now-famous rabbis come for a Shabbat to grace the town with their presence and teachings. At the welcoming reception held in their honor and attended by the entire town, a wealthy gentleman approached them. I've already explained to your coachman how to find my residence, though he's sure not to miss it—everyone knows where ' Reb Feivel' lives The gathering dispersed, and Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi Zusha went to pay their respects to the town rabbi and meet with the scholars in the local study hall.
The rich man went home to supervise the final arrangements for the rabbis' stay. Soon the coachman arrived with the brothers' coach and luggage.
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The horses were placed in the stables, the luggage in the rabbis' rooms, and the coachman settled in the servants' quarters. Hours passed, but still no sign of the two visitors. Growing anxious, the host sought out their coachman. Reb Feivel rushed to the scribe's hut and fairly knocked down the door.
It was agreed that I would host you. You must tell me what I have done to deserve such humiliation! Last time we were here, but without a coach, horses, coachman and bundles of pressed clothes, you turned us away from your door. So it is not us you want in your home, but our coachman, horses and luggage—which are currently enjoying your hospitality Thank you Great lesson for my Shabbos table! Very good lesson The two brothers weren't just acting like beggars, they were living the role.
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They didn't set out to teach lessons, but to learn. It is taught that the more material wealth one acquires,the more their evil inclination also increases. This is proven by the "well to do" homeowner, who saw two strangers in need and refused them help and hospitality, because they were in need.
Yet, when he saw two prominent appearing men not in any need, he was still controlled by his evil inclination by arrogantly insisting they be his guests. The two brothers simply didn't want to stay with an idol worshipper, who sold his soul for material wealth. At the same time, the brothers sent the man a message that he needs to study Torah in order to gain control of his evil inclination and become a decent human being.
And perhaps salvage his soul in the World of Truth. Thank you Shalom : Can you be kind enougth to explain this cuz i did not undertood this at all! Lessons for the rich The Rabbis were using deception, masking as poor in order to address some issues in the world as they came up. They used their wisdom to address this rich man. I would assume that the rich man was blessed to have received such a harsh lesson with the Rabbis.
He was given the benefit to learn about money and arrogance. I am sure the rich man learned this lesson. A rich man can insulate himself, and use money to wield power. So it is not easy to get a lesson of the heart to a rich man. So this rich man must have been deserving of a lesson. I cannot imagine, the rich man going over to the other man's house to say what? If he felt humiliated, maybe he should have been more accepting of the Rabbis decision.
It took two trips and years for the Rabbis to teach him a good lesson. One trip the Rabbis were poor then the Rabbis were in great esteem. Once they were in the position of esteem they could teach this man a valuable lesson and save his life, no arrogance, faith. It is plainly obvious that these two Rabbis were judged by their attire and not their true selves. I have witnessed this this in my life and find it to be disgraceful. I feel all people should be looked at by what and who they are not by their station in life.
A person who prejudges before knowing the actual truth denies themselves knowing the truth. We all have feelings, and should respect as we want to be respected. NOnsense I have respect for these wise men but none for the story. She had asked him to turn their home into a hospice, taking care of many of the town's elderly and dying townsfolk and his beds were full of the needy When the pretend "beggars" asked for lodging, he informed them kindly, he was not running a hotel and gave them helpful information where they could get a place to stay Later they presented themselves with false pride and humiliated the rich man for what they considered a slight.
The rich man, crushed and embarrassed, decided he had more than fulfilled his promise to his wife and stopped offering his hospitality any longer. The visit by the two Rabbis to the rich mans home This story simply illustrates that the rich man was human and displaying common sense and fear perhaps. You need to have worn his shoes to be able to form any correct judgement on him and to reproach him in any way.
It might well be that over the years he did many kind acts, give alms to the poor and assisted the undeserving with offers of work. Labelling him a "rich man" is a form of unfair criticism, because it implies that he obtained his wealth by cunning, deceit or unfair means. The Holocaust teaches us the wickedness of doing this.
I want all rich men to be praised and lauded and the poor of all creeds [scholars excluded] requested to follow their example. Your story reminds us all of an age long past, an age when famous Rabbis were sought for their good company and conversation and wisdom, now vanished into the Stetl's of times past. It also asks when did a Rabbi knock on your door univited and mix with the ordinary folk - the poor. A problem common to all Ministers perhaps?
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Great story! However, isn't there a nicer way to show a person the right thing to do, but without the humiliation? Even though "congratulate in public, criticize in private" is not always the best approach since many can learn from others' mistakes , when feelings are involved it could be the way to go. Again, excellent story.
How to teach a lesson To Gershon, my father's middle name You rate yourself too highly when you demean the method used by the two Rabbis to teach a lesson to the wealthy man. The Rabbis were wise in the ways of the world and did what was necessary to bring home to him the understanding of how he, too, held himself above others that he knew nothing about and that he respected things My bet is the wealthy man became a better person as a result of the lesson he received.
Tauber 'Refining their souls upon the travails of exile. Tauber and to all else it may concern : Was the purpose of the diaspora to 'refine the soul'? I would suppose that it was more so intended to refine the world then to refine the souls of Jews themselves, though it was certainly inspired of these two brothers to take it this way That was a very moving story but I just wonder; why did they have to drive home their message in such a hurtful manner? Was it not possible for them to teach the rich sinner without involving so many ppl?
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever puts away his wife, and marries another, commits adultery: and whosoever marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery. There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there. Then he said, I pray you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house: For I have five brothers; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Firstly, it should be considered whether this story is a parable, or a true historical account of what happened to two real people?
It is important to notice Jesus spoke this story to the the Pharisees Luke , who are described by Jesus as being covetous, hypocrites, full of thievery, self-indulgence, iniquity, and murder Luke , Matthew Jesus had told the disciples earlier in Luke , " Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Matthew describes how Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables: " All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: " Matthew , see also Psalm So, Jesus was in the habit of speaking in parables to people that were not his disciples. If the story was a literal account of two people, could it be possible that some water from the finger tip of Lazarus would have really eased the rich man's fiery torment? Also, would all those who find peace in the hereafter be able to freely watch as some suffer fiery torment?
Furthermore, would these two groups really be able to freely converse with each other, as was the case in this story? In the story, Abraham seemed to indicate that the reason why the rich man was suffering in the afterlife was because during his life he had received good things, while Lazarus had received evil things: " you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.
Such an idea is not found elsewhere in Scripture. There are many different kinds of beliefs about a place called "Hell", some are more fictional than others. One view of hell is that it is a place where there is absolutely nothing good, a place completely void of things like love, kindness, virtue, and compassion. If the rich man was in this kind of a hell, then shouldn't he be void of all brotherly affection, and show no concern for the future wellbeing of his five brothers?
The story actually describes the rich man benevolently pleading for his brothers to be warned about where they were headed. Further support for this story being a parable is found in how Jesus begins the story with " There was a certain rich man ". In Luke's Gospel there are six other parables that open with either "A certain man", or "There was a certain man": "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho" Luke "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard" Luke "A certain man made a great supper" Luke "A certain man had two sons:" Luke "There was a certain rich man" Luke "There was a certain rich man, which had a steward" Luke "A certain man planted a vineyard" Luke So it is very easy to conclude, that just like the many other parables above, the story of Lazarus and the rich man is indeed also a parable.
Some claim it is not a parable because Lazarus is mentioned by name, and in no other parable is anybody mentioned by name. However Jesus giving the beggar the name Lazarus actually adds further depth to the non-literal interpretation of the parable as will be discussed later in this article.
Some desire to use this parable to teach about the afterlife, but the problem is that parables are not always bound to reflect reality, for example elsewhere in Scripture we read of a parable were trees talked about anointing a new king for themselves Judges , from such a parable it would be a mistake to assume that Scripture teaches that trees talk, or that trees anoint other trees to reign as kings over themselves. In the same way, we need to be careful of what truths we draw from the Lazarus parable.
There is a generally accepted principle in the study of theology, that one should never build a doctrine based on a parable, since they were originally told to conceal a truth, and are often ambiguous in their meaning. Therefore it is not wise to use the Lazarus parable as a foundation to build a teaching that immediately after death some will go to a place of fiery torment, as happened to the rich man in this story.
The fact is this parable is the only place in the Bible where such an idea may be found. If it is to be taken literally, the parable implies there is some kind of judgment immediately after death which divides people either to a fiery place, or a pleasant place. But nowhere else in the Bible is such an idea of an immediate judgment after death found.
Jesus and the rich young man
Instead the Bible speaks of certain time when all people will be resurrected, after which everybody will be rewarded according to their works Matthew , Revelation , Daniel , John To be rewarded according to ones works in the afterlife does not automatically mean some will be damned to a fiery place for ever. The day of rewarding may also be likened to the end of a marathon race, competitors are rewarded according to how their race went, a few are rewarded with great honor and glory, some may be rewarded with a certificate of completion, and those that failed to complete the race or were disqualified will receive no reward for their efforts other than a judgment of being unworthy to receive a reward.
Being without a reward is very different to being punished with eternal fiery torment. Even if this parable was a true story of what happened to two real people after they died, the parable does not clearly say that the gulf between the rich man and Lazarus was eternal. At that point of time, when Jesus told the story, it may have been fixed. However Jesus had not yet defeated death on the cross. Later in the book of Revelations Jesus declares he has " the keys of hell and of death " Re velations , Scripture also declares that hell itself will eventually be thrown in the lake of fire Revelations What does the Parable teach?
Jesus told parables as a means of communicating important spiritual truths. Care needs to be taken in correctly interpretting these coded messages. Some parts of a parable may have no specific meaning, other than to illustrate the story and set the scene for the bigger picture. A parable may carry multiple important messages, and may speak at multiple different levels.
Some truths that may be picked up from this parable include: 1 Lessons in true Holiness: The outward appearance or prosperity of an individual has no relation to their inner well-being in the eyes of God. In other words to be blessed in this life with much is not a sign of being specially favoured and blessed by God. Just as suffering in this life is not a sign of being unfavoured by God. It is not the outward state of Lazarus that we should find repulsive, but instead it is the state of the rich man that should stir up feelings of repulsion.
Jesus had not long before this story rebuked the Pharisees for making themselves righteous before people Luke , on the outside they portrayed themselves as holy and clean, but like whitewashed tombs, on they were unclean on the inside Matthew For the Pharisees holiness was about doing things the right way, eating and drinking right, washing themselves right, performing ceremonies the right way, etc.
But for Jesus, holiness was a matter of having a pure heart, being merciful, and meek Matthew , and outward uncleanness being a diseased beggar was not an obstacle to inner cleanness. The Pharisees at one time told a man born blind: " You were altogether born in sins " John , so the Pharisees condemned a man simply for being born blind!
Jesus taught against such condemnation of others: " condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven: " Luke The Pharisees condemned the most weak and vulnerable members of society rather than showed them mercy. The characteristic of condemning others spews from heart manifested with pride, such people love to condemn others, for it can make them look and feel greater. Some are quick to condemn those born spiritually blind to a fiery eternal torment, when Scripture says even Jesus did not come to condemn sinners, but to save them.
Lessons in Humility: The parable also reminds us of God's promise to humble the proud, and lift up the humble Luke , Psalm , Isaiah The Pharisees liked to sit in high places, they liked to be looked up to and greeted in the marketplace. While yet alive, the rich man of the parable would have looked down upon Lazarus laying on the ground, but after death, it was the rich man that was looking up to Lazarus.
In the message known as the "Beatitudes" Jesus taught saying " blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven " Matthew The underlying Greek word for "poor" in this Scripture is the exact same Greek word translated "beggar" that described Lazarus in Luke The word is transliterated "Ptochos". The original Greek word describes a person with absolutely nothing. Jesus once praised a poor widow who donated all the money she had, which had only been a few coins Luke The same Greek word for "poor" is used to describe her.
To be "poor in spirit" speaks of recognizing that you are completely dependent upon God's mercies and provision for spiritual wholeness and holiness. This was the exact opposite of how Jesus described the self-righteous Pharisee's: " You are they which justify yourselves before men " Luke The kingdom belonging to the poor in Spirit is a common theme in other parables. In the story of the prodigal son, it was after reaching a place of humble helplessness that he was reconciled with his father. In the parable that describes the prayers of the publican and the Pharisee, the publican admitted his helplessness, and need for mercy.
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However, the Pharisee in that parable boasted of all he had done, and how much better he was than other people like the publican Luke Jesus made clear which of these two ways of approaching God was more pleasing to Him. In the beatitudes, Jesus speaks of a time when conditions would be reversed, a time when the hungry will be filled, those weeping will laugh, and so on. He also warns of the woes that await those that are rich and full now Luke The rich and full who Jesus condemns can be interpreted to be the religious shepherds of Israel who were greedily feeding themselves and not their flocks.
Instead they were guilty of burdening the souls of people, and would not even lift a finger to give relief Luke , Matthew It is fitting that in the Lazarus parable it is now the rich man that begs for relief from the finger of Lazarus. If we read the parable of Lazarus in light of the beatitudes, it brings much clarity to the story. Those that believed they were deserving to be in Abraham's bosom, were very badly deceived. They considered themselves God's special chosen people, who were of infinitely greater worth to God than anybody else.
But instead of being favoured by God, the truth was God was utterly disgusted with them. Such delusions of self-grandeur are the symptoms of a heart infested with pride. Lessons in Earthly Riches: The parable also serves as a reminder of how seriously God takes the failure to help the poor.
The fact that Lazarus was hungry for crumbs, would mean the rich man was failing to fulfill his duty to help the poor in the land Deuteronomy , In Proverbs we read " Whoever shuts his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. Jesus also said that " Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Some Jews are said to have believed being a beggar was a result of God's curse because of personal wickedness or that of ones parents.
The Psalmist speaking in condemnation of the wicked says " Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg " Psalm This kind of Scripture could have been used to justify not helping beggars. In the same way some Jews also wrongly taught that sickness was a result of sin. It is the nature of pride to despise the weak, leading to the weak being dehumanized as less worthy of life. It is likely the Pharisees saw people like Lazarus the beggar as equal with dogs. If somebody views another person equal to a dog, then they will treat them like a dog.
A parable that parallels the theme of helping the afflicted is the story of the good Samaritan. A man had been robbed and beaten badly, while lying on the ground, he was ignored by some religious Jews that passed by, but then a generous hearted Samaritan helped him. I t was the Jewish leaders who were the ones who should have been examples of living God's way. Instead the story lifts up a Samaritan as the hero, whom the Jews despised. Jesus was making clear that it was those that were merciful that pleased God regardless of how others viewed them. The Lazarus parable also reminds us of how earthly riches fit into the bigger scheme of things, Jesus had earlier taught " For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
The Pharisees where blinded by a love of money, only a short time before Jesus told the Lazarus parable, they had derided Jesus after he had declared " No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
The rich man of the parable can be seen as an example of those who are under the mastership of mammon. He enjoyed being lavished with the luxuries of fine food and clothing, while turning a blind eye to the needs of the poor. Some chapters earlier Jesus had taught saying: " Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts. The message of this parable can be understood to be that just as the wicked man who knew he will lose his job made sure he had a good earthly future, so too God's people should be laying up true and enduring treasure in heaven for the time when we leave this earth behind.
Symbolic interpretation A non-literal interpretation of this parable is that the rich man represents the Jews especially the Pharisees , and Lazarus outside the gate with the dogs represents those whom the religious leaders despised as unclean such as non-Jewish people, as well as Jews whom they considered outside the blessings of God because of contamination with sin or uncleanness, like tax collectors, prostitutes, and demoniacs.
Interestingly, during the ministry of Jesus, many such commonly despised people turned to follow Jesus and hungered after the " words of eternal life " John which proceeded from Jesus. Like Lazarus these despised people had hungered in vain for crumbs of mercy from the table of the "rich" religious leaders. The view that the story is about two people groups rather than two individuals is strengthened by several details in the story, some of these are presented in the below sections.
What does the fire and torment represent? In the Old Testament prophets often used "fire" when describing earthly judgment that was a result of abandoning God Jeremiah , Ezekiel , Ezekiel The parable of Lazarus can be understood to be a similar prophetic warning to Israel, and in context of other prophetic messages the fire simply represents earthly judgment events. If the rich man represents the Jewish nation, his fiery torment may be descriptive of the earthly suffering the Jews encountered when their kingdom "died" so to speak, and when they lost their privileged position of being God's chosen people.
Despite receiving many warnings the Jewish people as a nation chose to follow their own path, and that path eventually led to horrific suffering inflicted upon them at the hands of the Romans. Israels capital city Jerusalem with its temple suffered fiery destruction in 70 AD. Many were killed and taken into captivity. Jesus and His messengers had warned Israel about this coming earthly judgment many times: -John the Baptist warned of a time of wrath that was coming saying " O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? These words can be understood as a clear warning that His hearers would also suffer an untimely death unless they repented, this is made very clear by the parable Jesus told shortly after speaking those words of a barren fig tree, " Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none.
Cut it down; why does it use up the ground? Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Three years is also the same duration of time that Jesus went about Israel doing miracles and preaching repentance. Matthew How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
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Your house is left to you desolate. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
The apostle John also received a prophetic revelation of a similar time to come Revelation In their great anguish they would cry out to the mountains to fall on them, not to save them from death, but so that they might die quickly , rather than suffer things like torture, rape, starvation, seeing the massacre of loved ones, and other forms of horrific humiliation. Jesus also said for some it would have been better for them to have died by drowning in the sea with a millstone tied around their neck Luke Though drowning may be a relatively quick and peaceful way to die.
For a Jew to be drowned in the sea would have been a very dishonorable way to die. There was a desire in their culture to be buried in distinguished tombs with dignity and respect. In Jewish heritage drowning was connected with judgment, such as that which came upon the Egyptian armies of Moses day, and the wicked world in Noah's day. Execution by drowning was not a Jewish practice, Eastons Bible dictionary states " Drowning was a mode of capital punishment in use among the Syrians ".
So when Jesus says being drowned would be a better way to die for those that were offending His children, he was giving serious forewarning of some very horrific events that would meet those following the path of destruction, and it would be far worse than being drowned in the sea. Being starved and tortured for a long period of time before being massacred and heaped into mass graves at the fiery garbage dump outside Jerusalem in the valley of Geheena would indeed be a much worse fate than drowning in the sea. In a speech to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said " You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?
Some Bible translations translate Gehenna here and elsewhere in the Bible as "Hell", but it is requires a large theological step to equate an actual physical location called "Gehenna" as speaking of a spiritual place of the dead, such a large step is not easily justified. Throughout the old testament Scriptures Hell was simply the place of the dead, where even holy men of God went Genesis , Genesis , Genesis , Job , Psalm , Ecclesiastes , 1 Samuel When these forewarned days of great torment and tribulation eventually did arrive, we can imagine how many of those suffering may have cried out to heaven for help, just like the rich man cried out to Lazarus.
But no help arrived, for sadly they had not heeded the multiple warnings, and recognized their time of visitation. It has been described as the greatest slaughter of ancient history. Josephus describes the war as being very raw and bloody. Children and women were killed without mercy, some people were tortured to death with fire and torture racks, some were fed alive to wild animals. Josephus tells that those that remained alive had the worser fate than those that had been killed. Many in their great suffering desired death, but death did not come. The Wars of the Jews For we had arms, and walls, and fortresses so prepared as not to be easily taken, and courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty, which encouraged us all to revolt from the Romans.