THE RABBI WHO FOUND THE DIADEM
Translated from the Talmud by Dr. A. S. Isaacs
Great was the alarm in the palace of Rome, which soon spread throughout
the entire city. The empress had lost her costly diadem, and it
could not be found. They searched in every direction, but all in
vain. Half distracted, for the mishap boded no good to her or her
house, the empress redoubled her exertions to regain her precious
possession, but without result. As a last resource it was proclaimed
in the public streets: "The empress has lost a precious diadem.
Whoever restores it within thirty days shall receive a princely
reward. But he who delays, and brings it after thirty days, shall
lose his head."
In those times all nationalities flocked toward Rome; all classes
and creeds could be met in its stately halls and crowded thoroughfares.
Among the rest was a rabbi, a learned sage from the East, who loved
goodness, and lived a righteous life in the stir and turmoil of
the Western world. It chanced one night as he was strolling up and
down, in busy meditation, beneath the clear, moonlit sky, he saw
the diadem sparkling at his feet. He seized it quickly, brought
it to his dwelling, where he guarded it carefully until the thirty
days had expired, when he resolved to return it to the owner.
He proceeded to the palace, and, undismayed at sight of long lines
of soldiery and officials, asked for an audience with the empress.
"What dost thou mean by this?" she inquired, when he told her his
story and gave her the diadem. "Why didst thou delay until this
hour? Dost thou know the penalty? Thy head must be forfeited."
"I delayed until now," the rabbi answered calmly, "so that thou
mightst know that I return thy diadem, not for the sake of the
reward, still less out of fear of punishment; but solely to comply
with the Divine command not to withhold from another the property
which belongs to him."
"Blessed be thy God!" the empress answered, and dismissed the rabbi
without further reproof; for had he not done right for right's