he guard returned to Petach Tikvah late in the afternoon. The Kanon Shavish waited for him impatiently, and when he saw him coming went into a rage. “Where is your Effendi?” he shouted. Why didn’t he come with you?”
“I said that he couldn”t come with me. He’s not allowed to ride on a horse on Shabbos,” the Arab apologetically said in a voice, which somehow appeased the commander a bit. The commander left two gendarmes to wait for the Jew and to guard the oil, so that no one would try to conceal the evidence. The following morning the commander told the Jew who had dared to disobey his orders to return. On Sunday afternoon, Yosef Chagiz appeared perched on a horse. Then he marched toward the raging commander fearlessly .
“Are you Effendi Yosef?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Then why didn’t you come yesterday when I called you,” the commander shouted. “You know what awaits a person who refuses the order of a Turkish commander.”
“There is Someone above you, and He ordered me not to come,” Reb Yosef replied, looking directly at the commander.
“Who told you not to listen to me?” he said, his throat throttled with anger.
Pointing to Shamayim, Reb Yosef said: “G-d in Heaven warned us, in the Torah to keep the Shabbos.”
“But He also said that you have to obey the authorities of the country in which you live,” he replied, his anger subsiding a bit. Taking advantage of the respite, Reb Yosef continued to explain his behavior, saying that this was true in the event that the Sultan’s orders do not negate the King’s command. In this case, though G-d whose orders obligate everyone in the world stands above you and your king, the Sultan himself.”,
“What about the kerosene you hid in the well. Did G-d tell you to hide it too?” The commander laughed cynically, his voice still containing a trace of anger.
“Of course,” Reb Yosef replied. “This oil is intended for the poor. Do you think that I am storing it away for myself? I want to distribute it among the unfortunate people who don’t have money to buy oil for themselves. If it was for me I would find a better hiding place, and not risk being put to death.”
“Do you mean that this is for the ‘maskin” ─ the unfortunate ones, and not for you?“ the startled commander remonstrated.
Reb Yoself looked the commander in the eye again, and bravely said: “Ask about me in Yerushalayim, and everyone will tell you that Yosof Chagiz doesn’t live only for himself, but for the poor.”
The commander gave him a once-over, and then said: “But didn’t you know that by not coming to me you were liable to be hung?”
If Reb Yosef had even a trace of fear at that time, it was unrecognizable, especially not when he continued to scrape up claims for his defense. “I’m not afraid of anyone,“ he then said. He Who helps the poor and the unfortunate watches over me. If you, the Kanon Shavish will help the needy, Hashem will watch over you too. I’m sure that your won’t oppose Hashem’s protection during the war when human blood is being spilled like water.”
The commander’s heart softened a bit, he smiled when he heard Yosef’s clever remarks. “Listen, Yosef Chavag’a,” he then said: “I also believe in G-d and respect others who do so. I don’t like lowly people, who commit all the sins in the world in G-d’s Name. If you had come to me yesterday, from Yaffo riding on your horse, and had told me that you had collected the kerosene for the poor, I wouldn’t have believed you at all, and would have sent you to the gallows. Many criminals hide behind All-ah’s name, and do unseemly deeds in that way. But you are different. You proved to me that you are honest and sincere. You were prepared to sacrifice your life for the sake of your belief. You risked your life by not coming when I ordered you, and thus proved that you practice what you preach, and are not a liar.” He tapped Reb Yosef on the shoulder and said: “You are released, and can keep all of the kerosene. Go and distribute it to the unfortunate people who have no money to buy kerosene themselves. Do a deed with the poor. On the merit of our helping the poor, we will be spared during these difficult times..”
The commander and his soldiers saluted Yosef, who was so startled that he couldn’t say a word. They then left the orchard, leaving behind an Arab guard, who was also stunned.