In the city where the Maharsha lived there was a very wealthy man whose name was Meir. He owned the majority of the food carts in the city square and lived inside a beautiful mansion.
“I own more wealth than half of the people in Posen, but nothing is more valuable in my eyes than you,” Meir would tell his only child, a daughter by the name of Rus, every single day.
Meir’s wife had died. His daughter, Rus, was the apple of his eye and the source of all happiness in his life.
The fateful morning started off like any other. At the break of day Meir rolled out of bed, dressed hurriedly, and donned his tallis and tefillin for a quick prayer. Gone were the days when he would make it a priority to join the minyan in the shul. His drive to build his business overshadowed many of his religious obligations.
“Master, I have your breakfast prepared.” A butler greeted Meir in the dining room and gestured toward a table laden with fresh bread, butter, and a steaming hot drink.
“How many times have I told you,” Meir scolded the butler as he sat his considerable frame down in his chair, “I won’t eat unless my princess eats with me.”
“But Master, she wakes up later than you!” The butler pursed his lips. “By the time she comes down, your drink will be cold.”
“So be it.”
Twenty minutes later Meir smiled with pleasure at the sight of his daughter entering the room to join him. The butler hurried away and returned with more cutlery and food.
“Why do you always rise so early, Papa?” Rus asked, stifling a huge yawn as she took her place across the table.
“Every moment is precious and not to be wasted.” Meir lathered his roll with a generous amount of butter. “I can conduct more business this way.”
“You used to talk that way about your learning...” Rus glanced at the bookshelves of seforim that were collecting dust in the corner of the room.
“I have to support us, don’t I?” Meir scowled as he bit into his bread and ripped off a large chunk.
Rus looked uncertain.
At that moment someone knocked loudly on the front door.
“Already people are knocking?” Meir sighed. “If I talk to people now I’ll be delayed at the market. Someone needs to keep an eye on the stalls and make sure the workers are paying attention.”
“I’ll go,” Rus offered, rising from her chair.
“But you’ve barely eaten!”
“It’s fine. I’m not hungry anyhow. Let me go, I won’t let you down, Papa.”
“You never do.”
Meir’s visitor ended up staying for over three hours. He was a tough merchant from Brisk and he argued endlessly over prices. Finally they came to an agreement and the man left.
“Prepare Rus’s favorite cake, please!” Meir called to the butler as he swung a heavy fur coat over his shoulders. “The poor thing will be hungry when she returns. I’ve kept her waiting for much too long!”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 754)
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