Sylvester howled in anger and pain as he plunged his arms into the fire and knocked the scrolls out of the flames
Reb Shabsi knew that, sooner or later, he’d break from Sylvester’s constant pressuring. Daily, Sylvester reminded him of his past sins, causing him to doubt whether he had ever been a decent person. The traumatic incident he had been involved in as a young man, the one that changed his life forever, was constantly brought up.
One night, as a fire roared in a fireplace under the open, star-studded sky, Reb Shabsi looked across the flames at Sylvester.
“I’ll make them.”
“What?” Sylvester was so shocked, he momentarily forgot what Reb Shabsi was referring to.
“The golems. I’ll do it….”
The flames crackled over the firewood, spitting and hissing, as tendrils of smoke drifted into the night sky.
“You will not regret it, my friend.” Sylvester spoke slowly, cautiously. “These golems will restore peace to our world. No longer will wars wage on our planet, with armies constantly fighting one another, causing an untold number of deaths and injuries to millions. The golems will be controlled by one who can keep the peace, wielding the golems’ mighty power to put an end to land disputes, to the greed of kings who wage war for the sake of increasing their own power. The possibilities are endless… And it will be all thanks to you, Rabbi Shabsi.”
“I don’t know whether to believe you or not…” Shabsi shook his head. “But I am convinced now of everything you have been telling me. I am not a good man. What I did all those years before… The two boys in the wagon in the river… I can still recall the terror of that day. Only a bad person could have caused such things to happen. And if my greatest feat was creating my Pinchas, the golem, then at the very least, let me do the one thing I am good at….”
“Good. Tomorrow, we will begin.”
“No, we begin tonight.”
Reb Shabsi pulled himself to his feet and hobbled around the fire.
“Give me the scrolls.”
“What? Tonight? Right… now?”
“Yes! Why wait? Let it be done already.”
Sylvester slipped out the scrolls and placed them in Reb Shabsi’s trembling fingers.
And then, Reb Shabsi turned and hurled the scrolls into the flames.
Sylvester’s scream pierced through the night. He jumped up and shoved Reb Shabsi to the side, sending the older man flying into the grass.
“You fool! You old fool! I’ll kill you for this!”
Sylvester howled in anger and pain as he plunged his arms into the fire and knocked the scrolls out of the flames. He stomped on the flames until the scrolls were no longer smoking. Then he turned, drawing a dagger as he did, toward Reb Shabsi.
But Reb Shabsi was gone.
Reb Shabsi raced through the forest, his short, stubby legs taking him only so far, as Sylvester began to give chase.
Sylvester’s eyes scanned the shadows.
He spotted Reb Shabsi’s tiny frame curled up at the base of a large tree.
“You almost destroyed the scrolls forever!”
“Too bad I didn’t succeed.”
“So, I should just kill you and be done with it, eh? You’re not going to make me those golems?”
“Never!” Reb Shabsi wiped tears from his eyes. “You don’t understand at all. I do agree with you. I also think I’m no good for the things I’ve done… Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t forgive myself back then, and I still don’t until this day! I’ll never allow myself peace of mind for the thing that happened. But even so, do you really think that will convince me to make the world a more dangerous place by creating creatures of destruction? Are you crazy? Why would I make the same mistake twice?”
“I suppose you’re right. You’re a hopeless, stubborn, and frustrating old man who is better off under the ground than-“
As Sylvester stepped forward, something snapped shut around his foot.
“Ouch! What wa—“
A rope stretched taut and suddenly Sylvester was yanked by his foot upside down. He flew fifteen feet into the air and dangled there, swaying back and forth.
“How’s the view?” Reb Shabsi shrugged. “Can you see my golem from there?”
“Very funny!” Sylvester shrieked. “Get me down! Help me, old man!”
“Help you? Why would I do that?”
Reb Shabsi shuffled away as Sylvester screamed for his aid.
“Pinchas?” Reb Shabsi’s squeeky voice echoed in the forest clearings. “Pinchas? Where are you?”
“Reb Shabsi? Reb Shabsi? Where are you?”
Shimshon cupped his hands around his mouth and continued calling out for Reb Shabsi as he journeyed through the dense forest with Jorin and Baruch.
“It’s hopeless…” Baruch sighed. “How can we ever find him? Especially in the dark.”
“We just must do our best. Hashem does the rest.” Shimshon patted Baruch’s shoulder. “Hashem has helped us thus far. Let’s not despair. Let’s never despair.”
“Stop!” Jorin held up a hand. He bent to the forest floor and picked up a pile of leaves that had been smushed down. He sniffed deeply. “Fresh tracks. Someone was here… Come, this way.”
They followed Jorin into a forest clearing.
“It’s a dead end. They were here not long ago, though.” Jorin paused, then pointed upward. “Wait… I recognize that rope. It’s a trap set by the sorcerer….”
“Sorcerer?” Shimshon swallowed. “Yes. We need to leave here immediately.”
“But what about Reb Shabsi? What if he was captured by this sorcerer? We can’t just leave him behind. We need to try and rescue him.”
“Rescue him? No, no, no…” Jorin shook his head fast. “You don’t know how dangerous the sorcerer is. He uses black magic and is extremely powerful. We need to escape while we still ca—“
Suddenly the forest floor shuddered, and all three of them looked down at the same time and watched as ropes slid over their feet and twisted around their ankles. Then they were yanked upward, high into the air….
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 975)
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