R

eb Mayer Anschel and his wife Gittele watched as the French soldiers ransacked every inch of their beautiful home. Furniture was torn apart, expensive crystal was shattered, and even the floorboards were soon riddled with holes.

“I see that you are very stubborn!” The general growled, breathing heavily as he approached Reb Mayer Anschel. “Since that is the case, I will drag you through the streets of Frankfurt! You will be declared a traitor before the emperor himself and this entire ghetto will pay dearly for your treason!”

Reb Mayer Anschel’s face turned white as he thought of the suffering that would occur to innocent Yidden because of him.

Genug shoyn [Enough already],” he murmured, his entire body shaking. “Come, I will show you the prince’s treasure!”

“Finally, you’ve come to your senses, Monsieur Rothschild!” said the French general. With a flick of his wrist he commanded his troops to cease their destruction of the home.

“You gave your word!” Gittele whispered in her husband’s ear as they led the French troops toward the study where the treasure was hidden. “Prince Wilhelm trusted you!”

Dorts keyn brirh [There’s no choice],” Reb Meir Anschel whispered back, inserting his key into the study door. “I’ve done everything in my power to save the prince’s money, but I will not allow other Yidden to suffer for his fortune! Bashtimt nisht! [Definitely not!]”

Gittele shook her head sadly. She knew that her husband was right.

Reb Mayer Anschel turned the key and the door swung slowly open with a loud creak. Moonlight shone through the wide glass windows behind Reb Mayer Anschel’s desk and illuminated the well-kept study.

“Which floorboard leads to the secret room?” asked the general greedily, his eyes darting across the floor.

“None of them,” Reb Mayer Anschel replied, as his wife looked on sorrowfully. “The money is behind this painting.”

“Allow me to help you!” The general yanked the painting off of the wall. He tossed the valuable work of art over his shoulder and smiled when it ripped loudly.

With a heavy sigh, Reb Mayer Anschel pulled at the handle that was previously hidden behind the painting and opened a secret panel in the wall.

Mon Dieu!” the general whispered, stepping into a room glittering with hundreds of coins. “How many gulden are in here?”

“Millions,” Reb Mayer Anschel said with a heavy heart. “Please, just take it and leave.”

“With pleasure!” The general laughed with glee. “Soldiers, take everything and do not leave a single gulden!”

The soldiers swiftly ransacked the room and loaded all of the money onto their horses outside.

Au revoir, Monsieur Rothschild!” the general cackled, leaping onto the back of his horse. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you!”

Reb Mayer Anschel and his wife watched as the French legion galloped away into the night. When the last hoofbeats had faded, Gittele turned to say something to her husband. But when she saw the look on his face, she held her tongue. Neither said a single word. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 710)