M y bubby Rivka Leah was very proud of her father, Reb Yehuda Leib Rubin ztz”l. She was proud he was the rav of the Minsk Chayei Adam Shul on the Lower East Side. She was proud of his Torah learning. Most of all, however, she was proud of his dedication to Shabbos and the kiddush Hashem he once made for it.

In the early 1920s, when he wasn’t davening or giving shiurim, Yehuda Leib was in his office on the ground floor of his building. Besides being a rav, Yehuda Leib was a contractor, someone who’s paid to build buildings for people.

One day, there was a knock. It was Mr. Jackson, a wealthy man who often hired the Rubin Construction Company, as he knew Mr. Rubin was honest and did excellent work.

Mr. Jackson, puffing a cigar, looked excited. “Mr. Rubin,” he said, “have I got a great project for you!” Mr. Jackson threw his cigar down and stomped it out with a fancy boot. He pulled a rolled-up paper from a deep pocket. “These, Mr. Rubin,” he continued, “are the plans for my best building yet, and I want you to build it for me.”

Mr. Jackson carefully unrolled the plans on Yehuda Leib’s desk. Yehuda Leib took one look and realized this was going to be a very large and very expensive project.

Mr. Jackson smiled. “Yes, Mr. Rubin,” he said in a smug voice. “I can see you’re very impressed with my project. If you can get this job done in time, we will both make a lot of money.” Mr. Jackson pulled out a little notebook, and opened it to a page with a number written on it. He showed the page to Yehuda Leib Rubin.

Yehuda Leib gasped. This was far more money than he’d ever been offered for any project. “I don’t understand,” he said, slowly. “Why are you offering so much money?”

“Mr. Rubin,” Mr. Jackson answered, “I need this building finished in seven months.”

Yehuda Leib’s eyes grew wide. “Seven months?!” He studied the plans more carefully. Then he looked at Mr. Jackson. “Seven months is nowhere near enough time to put together a building this big. To even have a chance of building it that fast, we’d have to work very long hours, six days a week.”

Mr. Jackson smiled smugly. “That’s exactly what I want you to do, Mr. Rubin,” he said. “I want you to work on my building six days a week.”

Yehuda Leib looked at Mr. Jackson. “Mr. Jackson,” he said, “you know very well that in New York City it is against the law to build buildings on Sundays. How could you expect me to work six days a week?”

Mr. Jackson’s smiled slyly. “My dear Mr. Rubin. I never said anything about working on Sundays. You know very well there are six other days besides Sunday.”

Suddenly it dawned on Yehuda Leib what Mr. Jackson was hinting at. He took a deep breath and grasped the edge of his desk tightly. “I’m sorry, Mr. Jackson,” he said. “I cannot build your building for you.” (Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 662)