IN ROPSHITZ, it was the custom for the rich people whose houses stood isolated or at the far end of the town to hire men to watch over their property at night. Late one evening when Rabbi Naftali was skirting the woods which circled the city, he met such a watchman walking up and down.
“For whom are you working? ”he asked. The man told him and then inquired in his turn: “And for whom are you working, Rabbi?”
The words struck the tzaddik like a shaft. “I am not working for anybody at this moment,” he barely managed to say. Then he walked up and down beside the man for a long time. “Will you be my servant?” he finally asked.
“I should like to,” the man replied, “but what would be my duties?”
“To remind me,” said Rabbi Naftali, “for who it is I am working."
THE MASTER SAT AT THE crossroads quietly drinking his tea. A traveler approached from the west, a young gentleman obviously in a hurry to complete important affairs
“You there,” he called to the master, “How long will it take me to get to the city?” The master sipped his tea, and regarded the young gentleman in silence.
“I asked you a question, old one,” the young gentleman repeated, hands on his hips. “How long will it take me to get to the city?” The master took another sip of tea, set the cup down. His expression changed not at all.
“What’s the matter with you?” fumed the young gentleman. “Are you deaf, or just stupid? Bah!” He waved his hand at the master and started off down the road.
“One hour and twenty minutes,” called out the master. The young gentleman spun around. “Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”
The master smiled. “I couldn’t tell you how long it would take until I witnessed how fast you could walk.”