Mrs. Eichenbaum was extremely busy. As usual, the farm chores
fully occupied her time. Every morning before sunrise, she
was up and attending to the milking of the cows, collecting
eggs and tending the vegetable garden. These chores busied
her early morning hours, after which she went to supervise
the kitchen work and the cleaning. She derived satisfaction
in efficiently fulfilling her duties, knowing that she was
bringing in much of the household's profits. Mrs. E. had
little time for idle talk, as every minute counted. The cook
and the servants followed her example and the farm ran
smoothly. Her husband, R' Eichenbaum, took care of the farm's
paper work and still found time to be actively involved in
the communal affairs of Lublin.
One bright morning, as Mrs. E. entered the kitchen, the cook
turned to her. "Do you know that your husband has been
spending all of his time these days with the new rabbi?"
"The new rabbi? There's a new rabbi in Lublin?" she looked
puzzled. "I haven't heard about it."
"Oh, yes. Rabbi Meir Shapiro. Your husband is showing him the
town and briefing him in on communal affairs," divulged the
cook, pleased to have the full attention of her always busy,
energetic mistress. She loved to gab, but her mistress never
indulged in such talk. She looked intently into Mrs. E.'s
face and said mysteriously, "They even say in town that your
dear husband presented the new Rov with an impressive gift!"
The cook reveled in the gleam of curiosity in the eyes of her
"My husband gave the new Rov a present and everyone in town
knows about it except me?"
"I suppose you're too busy to hear the news," said the cook,
trying to appease Mrs. E. whom she greatly admired. She was
glad to be the one to fill her in on this important news but
felt sorry for her, nevertheless. Surely, she deserved to
know what was going on in her own family!
"Well, they say that the empty lot you own on the hill was
presented to the Rov, who wants to open up a yeshiva in
Lublin. As your husband was showing him around the city, he
mentioned that the lot belonged to him and the Rov asked if
it was for sale. They say that your generous husband simply
gave it to him as an outright gift!"
For a moment, Mrs. E. stood there, quietly digested this
information. But then, everyday matters came to the fore and
she said, "Hmmm. Well, what shall we have for dinner today? I
have much work to do yet and want to plan the menu. Do you
have everything you need in the way of supplies?"
The idle talk was over and immediate matters settled. But now
Mrs. Eichenbaum suddenly seemed less busy. She went over to
the desk in the office where her husband kept his records and
paperwork and began searching for something. Apparently
finding what she was looking for, she determinedly left the
room and went upstairs to her bedroom where she changed from
her weekday clothing to her Shabbos dress. She hurried out of
the house and headed for the shul. In the back was an
office where the Rov of the community sat and heard the
questions brought by the townspeople. She knocked on the door
and was told to enter.
The new Rov, R' Meir Shapiro, sat by the desk, an open
gemora in front of him. "Good morning," he greeted the
"Good morning. I am Mrs. Eichenbaum." She waited to see a
reaction and was gratified to see the smile of recognition on
his face. Then she continued, "I apologize for disturbing the
rabbi but I have something important to say." She laid the
paper she was holding in her hand flat on the desk before
him. What would he say?
He looked up from the paper and said, "Yes. Your benevolent
husband agreed to donate the lot on the hill for the sake of
building a yeshiva in Lublin. My stipulation for accepting
the rabbinate here was that I be enabled to open up a
yeshiva," he explained. The woman before him had a strange
expression on her face. Was it... hostility? Anger?
Mrs. E. said quietly, "Kvod harav. This lot belongs to
me, too. My husband had no right to give away my part of the
lot. This paper proves my ownership and the gift is therefore
invalid." The only noise in the room was the buzzing of the
flies on the windowpane.
"So you disagree with your husband's action?" he said
"That is not the point. I want to present my claim before a
beis din and clarify the matter." Mrs. Eichenbaum
looked very determined. The Rov sighed and called in his aide
who was sitting in the inner room. "Go to the dayonim
of the town and tell them there is an urgent din Torah
before me. I would like them to come here without delay. And
please summon R' Eichenbaum here, too."
Mrs. E. went outside to await the arrival of the
dayonim. She was surprised to see many of the
townspeople converging upon the shul. The news must
have spread already, probably by the aide who had dropped a
word or two about the upcoming din Torah.
The proceedings were transferred to a large room which
rapidly became packed with curious spectators. The Rov sat on
a podium together with the dayonim and Mrs. Eichenbaum
was asked to present her case.
"I was informed that my husband donated the lot on the hill
to the esteemed new Rov of our city. Since this lot belongs
jointly to us, I contest the transfer of "What do you wish?"
the dayonim asked, puzzled. Mrs. E. had the reputation
of being a righteous woman, communally spirited, a good wife,
a generous person, altogether highly esteemed. The family
certainly did not lack money or property, so why should she
object to her husband's gift?
"I would like to clarify this matter. I have no objection to
giving the lot for this important cause but I do object to
the way in which it was given. My partial ownership of the
property is clear and legal. Therefore it was necessary for
me to have been consulted. My name and signature should have
appeared on the document showing transfer of ownership. I
demand that the agreement be nullified and a new one drawn
up. It should include my name as joint owner of the lot. This
will make the gift legal."
Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. People nodded and smiled in
agreement. Now they understood what the tumult was about. The
dayonim did as she had requested and a new agreement
was drawn up, including the names of both the owners. The
meeting was about to end but Mrs. Eichenbaum had another
surprise in store for them. She stated that the
dayonim should be paid for their time.
"I was the one who called this hearing and therefore, I
should be the one to pay, which I will do willingly." She
paused. It seemed as if she was not quite finished yet.
People squirmed in their seats with impatient curiosity.
"I also wish to add a clause in the agreement: all the milk
which the yeshiva requires is to be supplied by our farm,
free of charge, if my husband agrees." Everyone in the room
smiled, acknowledging this generous gift as the new clause
was duly added to the document.
Word of this incident quickly spread through Lublin and it
became the forerunner of many other generous donations that
were made to the new yeshiva.
Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin became one of the most illustrious
yeshivas to have been built in Europe.