Friday, October 7, 2011

Friends or Death

  One day a rabbi named Honi the Circle-maker saw a man planting a carob tree.
  "How many years does it take for this tree to bear fruit?" he asked the man.
  "Seventy years."
  "Do you think you will live seventy more years?"
  The man replied, "I found a world containing fully planted carob trees, and just as my ancestors planted those trees for me, so too will I plant them for my children."
  Immediately thereafter, Honi sat down and ate some bread. Drowsiness soon overcame him and he fell asleep. Some rocks rose to cover him, and he became hidden from sight.
  He slept for seventy years, and when he woke up he saw what looked to be the same man picking fruit from the carob tree he had planted.
  Honi asked him, "Are you the man who planted this tree?"
 "No, I am his grandson."
  Honi said, "It seems that I have slept for seventy years..."
  He went to his house and asked there, "Is the son of Honi still alive?"
  The people there told him, "His son is no longer alive but his grandson is."
  He said to them, "I am Honi."
  They didn't believe him.
  He left and went to the study house where he heard a rabbi saying, "These teachings are as clear to us as they were during the time of Honi the Circle-maker," for it was known that whenever Honi came to the study house, whatever problems the rabbis had encountered in their studies, Honi would resolve.
  Honi said to them, "I am Honi."
  They did not believe him, and did not treat him with the honor due him.
  Honi became anguished, and prayed for heavenly mercy and died.
Rava said, "This is an example of the popular adage, "either friends or death.""

-Babylonian Talmud, Ta'anit 23a