T

oledo, Spain

The Ibn Ezra managed to win over the hearts of tens of hundreds of Christians living in Toledo. His genius spread from one end of the city to the other and lines of people, all desiring to hear his wise words, spread from the front door of the monastery and trailed out into the street.

One beautiful, sunny day, the Ibn Ezra stopped his lecture inside the packed lecture hall.

“Why should we sit inside when we can continue our discussion outside?” the Ibn Ezra asked, gesturing to the rays of sunshine filtering through the room’s dilapidated windows.

The Ibn Ezra led the way into the glorious sunshine outside and continued his teachings about the universe as they walked slowly toward the city center.

As they approached the tallest building in the center of the city, the stone eye swiveled and faced the massive group of people walking in the street with the Ibn Ezra directly in the center.

“JEW! JEW! JEW!”

The idol’s shriek split the air and shattered the early morning silence.

“Where is the Jew?” everyone screamed eagerly, turning in all directions in search of a helpless Jew to beat. “Where?”

“This makes no sense!” someone cried out, raising his hands to quiet the aggravated assemblage. “Clearly there are no Jews in the vicinity! Perhaps the eye is sensing a Jewish presence miles away?”

“No!” the Ibn Ezra spoke for the first time, turning to face his disciples as he leaned on the heavy wooden walking stick in his hands. “The idol is screaming because it senses a Jew among us! One of you must secretly be a Jew!”

“Perhaps it’s you!” A tall, broad shouldered man with a wild red beard screamed as he pointed at the short, frail student standing closest to the Ibn Ezra.

“Yes, it must be him!” another person shouted. “Look, the idol is staring directly at you!”

“Get him!” the crowd screamed in unison, borrowing the Ibn Ezra’s staff to hammer the student over the head.

The student fled in shame, but the eye continued shrieking, “JEW! JEW! JEW!”

“We must have been mistaken! The Jew is still among us!” the Ibn Ezra declared, staring sternly at the horrified faces around him.

“Master, it’s not me!” the red-bearded man shouted, squaring his wide shoulders. “There’s nobody who despises the Jews in Spain more than I do!”

“Ha! That’s exactly what a secret Jew would say to convince others!” the Ibn Ezra replied, tossing his stick to the crowd. “Hit him!”

“Ouch! Ouch! Stop!” The man pleaded to no avail as the crowd set themselves on him without mercy. “STOP!”

“Alright, enough already!” the Ibn Ezra stopped the crowd. “Let us return to our classroom.”

 

Day after day, the Ibn Ezra took a new group of students on an “innocent” walk past the stone eye. Each time, the tzaddik chose to blame a different person for being the Jew that set the idol off.

“Jew! Jew! Jew!” the idol would scream, and the scene replayed itself over and over again with a different student getting blamed and beaten each time.

Soon half of the students under the Ibn Ezra’s guidance were sporting black eyes and carrying their arms in slings. People began to become suspicious of the eye’s reliability. Was it really possible that so many Christians were secretly Jews in disguise? (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 723)