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Joseph Friedlander, comp. The Standard Book of Jewish Verse. 1917.

By O. B. Merrill

The Messenger

RABBI BEN JOSEF, old and blind,

Pressed by the crowd before, behind,

Passed through the market place one day,

Seeking with weary feet his way.

The city’s traffic loud confused

His senses, to retirement used;

The voice of them that bought and sold,

With clink of silver piece and gold.

“Jehovah,” cried he, jostled sore,

Fearing to fall and rise no more,

“Thine angel send to guide my feet,

And part the ways where danger meet.”

Just then a beggar, as he passed,

A glance of pity on him cast,

And, seeing so his bitter need,

Stretched forth his hand his steps to lead.

“Not so,” Ben Josef cried, “I wait

A guide sent from Jehovah’s gate.”

The beggar left, thus rudely spurned

Where gratitude he should have earned.

As day wore on the hubbub rose,

Louder and harsher to its close,

The old man, weary, sought in vain

An exit from the crowd to gain.

Jostled at every turn his feet

Stumbled upon the ill-paved street;

Once more he cried, “Jehovah, where

The answer to thy servant’s prayer?

No angel, swift-winged, from thy throne,

Has hither for the helping flown.”

Then came a whisper, clear and low,

“My messenger thou didst not know.

“For in a beggar’s humble guise

His outstretched hand thou didst despise,

Nor cared beneath his rags to find

The heart that made his action kind.

See now that thou the lesson learn,

Lest he whose face thou canst not see

Should prove a messenger from Me.”