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Shimshon and the Golem, Part 2: Chapter 4

"I want to hear confidence! Conviction! If you don’t know that we’re getting out of here, then we’ll likely fail!”


Baruch sat in the dingy cell, drawing in the dirt with a broken piece of metal. Even after eating only vegetables and being confined to such tight quarters for so long, he was still very strong, and the metal almost bent between his powerful fingers.

Sebastian visited him daily, watching with curiosity as Baruch worked out his plan. They would take the stairs to the main palace floor and walk together to the lion cage. Baruch would go in alone as Sebastian held his breath with anticipation and watched as the lion would invariably roar and attack the tall boy.

Baruch would wield his makeshift weapon, the rope attached to the metal pail, and he would use it only if the lion tried fighting him. But the moment the lion submitted, lowering its head with reluctance, the king of beasts glaring at the Jewish boy with eyes that seemed to flash with fire, Baruch would lower his pail and stroke the lion’s massive mane and feed him the meat.

Finally, the day came when Baruch entered the cage and the lion didn’t attack. Sebastian’s relieved and incredulous laughter echoed around the cage as Baruch lowered his pail and greeted the massive lion by running his hand through its mane. The lion nudged him with its nose, as if it were as harmless as a house cat.

Bravo!” Sebastian shook the gate. “You did it! Look! Look how he’s eating out of your hand. What a performance, what a plan… a true feat of genius, my boy! You have conquered the monster!”

Baruch sat back, letting the lion rest its huge muzzle in his lap.

“Now what?” Sebastian’s eyes shone with excitement. “Where do we go from here, eh? I know you have something incredible up your sleeve. I’ve seen your diagrams. What say you, boy? When do we get out of this prison and return to our loved ones?”

“Soon.” Baruch gently pushed the lion from him and stood up. “Very soon.”

Their plan took place the following week. It was midnight when Sebastian came down to Baruch’s cell and inserted the key into the gate.

“Ready?” Sebastian’s face looked dark.

“I hope so.”

“Hope so? That’s not what I want to hear, my boy. I want to hear confidence! Conviction! If you don’t know that we’re getting out of here, then we’ll likely fail!”

“Who can know the future, Sebastian? Besides, have you seen your face? You don’t look so sure about our plan yourself. You look like you might faint.”

“True, but you’re the one with the power.”

“Power? Me? No, I don—”

“Your G-d.”


“I see the way you pray to Him. Three times a day, standing straight as a soldier before a general in the corner of your cell, crying to Him, talking to Him as if He hears every word, sees every thought, you have—”

“Not ‘as if.’ He does hear and see all things, Sebastian. And you’re right. I have Hashem on my side. And even in the Valley of Death, even if a sword is on my neck, I will never despair of receiving His kindness, His salvation!”

Bolstered with renewed confidence, Baruch and Sebastian quickened their pace. Up the dingy stairs they went, turning down the hallway now lit with dozens of flickering torches attached to the stone walls.

Suddenly, a soldier turned the corner and spotted them. They froze in place, terrified, like thieves caught red-handed in the middle of a robbery.

“What are you two doing? Sebastian, is that you?”

“Lionel, my good friend! Shouldn’t you be asleep at this hour?”

“Friend? I’m no friend of yours, Sebastian. Where are you going with that prisoner?”

“To… um—”

“To feed the lion.” Baruch cleared his throat. “We realized we didn’t give it enough meat earlier, and you know how testy it gets without proper food.”

“Ha, that’s funny. I thought something was up tonight. It seemed particularly upset, much more so than usual.”

“Wait, you were with the lion before? Why?” Sebastian held his breath.

“Why? I’ll tell you why. Because that demonic creature killed my friend last year, that’s why. I go in there from time to time, when the others don’t see me, and give that nasty creature a good beating with my whip. Tonight, I really let it all out, let me tell you… Be careful when you feed it. It’s not in a good mood!”

The solider laughed and then pushed his way past them, whistling to himself as he stroked the whip at his belt.

“Now what?” Sebastian hissed, as they walked toward the lion’s den. “Did all of our plans just go up in smoke?”

“Maybe.” Baruch fought to keep his tone under control. He indeed felt like all their planning had been for naught.

Sebastian unlocked the gate and Baruch went inside, the rope and pail swinging at his side. He saw the lion curled up in the corner, its tongue tenderly licking its  wounds. When it sensed Baruch, it leaped to its feet and gave a bloodcurdling roar.

Baruch froze. He could hear the gate slamming shut behind him as Sebastian leaped backward.

“I’m sorry,” Baruch said softly, fighting to control the wild beating of his heart. “I know someone came and hurt you. I’m not like that. You know I only defend myself. I don’t hurt you for no reason.”

The lion snarled, showing its razor-sharp teeth.

“Baruch, get out of there,” Sebastian croaked. “Even you can’t win this time. Just step backward and I’ll let you out of there. Do it now, before it’s too late.”

to be continued… 


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 969)

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