|Vol. I, No. 2
Iyar 5603 May 1843
THE SPRING OF RECOVERY
OR THE HISTORY OF BARUCH.
A Parable from the German of Krummacher.
At Damascus; in the land of Aram, lived a man named Baruch; he was famed in the whole country on account of his riches, so that the people said: He is justly called Baruch, which: means the blessed. For he possessed the treasures of India and Araby, and dwelt in a magnificent palace, the floors of which were of polished marble, and covered with costly carpets; and to his wealth also there was no end. Above all, God had given him an excellent wife, and seven blooming children.
But, behold! there was neither, peace nor joy in his heart. He therefore strove daily to increase the splendour of his house, and to replace the beautiful with things the most beautiful. But with all this he found not peace in his heart; he grew constantly more depressed, and sleep fled from his eyelids.
He then said in his heart, "Of what use is life to me? I can obtain nothing better and greater than I have possessed from my youth; and I know now that every thing is vain under the sun, and my soul feels loathing for all."
Thus Baruch moved about with desponding thoughts, and grieved his wife and his whole house; so that people said: "An evil spirit torments him." He therefore thought of putting an end to his days, that he might escape his affliction.
Now Baruch heard that there lived in the city of Memphis, in the land of Mitzraim, a wise man, a prophet, in whose heart God had placed wisdom, so that he was able to give counsel in all things. And Baruch resolved to arise and seek his counsel.
And Baruch called the trustiest of his servants, named Malchi, and said: "Rise, and get me ready two camels, and load the one of them with gold and silver, and precious stones and the most costly spices of Araby." And Malchi did as his master had commanded him. But Baruch blessed his wife and his children, and arose, he and his servant, and they departed thence over the mountains through the desert towards Mitzraim.
Thus they travelled with their beasts a journey of seven days, and again seven days, in the desert; but they did not reach that country. For the angel of the Lord had smitten them with blindness, that they missed their way, and knew not whether to turn to the right or to the left. And they and their beasts suffered greatly from thirst; because there was neither spring nor well in the wilderness far and wide, and they gathered by night the dew in their cloaks, which they sucked to moisten their lips.
Then Baruch sighed and said: Would I not give all the treasures which that camel carries, and yet many more like them, out of my vaults in Damascus, for a single cup of water which bubbles forth in my gardens out of marble and porphyry--and all the costly wines in my cellars, for a little spring which might refresh our tongues!"
Thus sighed Baruch; and the day was oppressive and the heat increased more and more, and they became still more thirsty, so that their souls grew faint. Thereupon, they slaughtered one of the camels, but no water was found in him by which they might refresh themselves.
Then Baruch opened his mouth and said to Malchi: "Alas! my trusty servant and companion, have I brought thee hither that thou shouldst die through my agency! To my household, when at home, I was a torment in my despondency, and now I am to thee, my faithful Malchi, an angel of destruction in the desert. And yet thou sufferest patiently as a lamb that opens not its mouth to its slayer, and thou murmurest not against thy destroyer, who brings a curse over thee, as a recompense for thy fidelity! Alas! Malchi; how shall I reward thee for this?" Thus spoke Baruch.
But Malchi answered and said: "Why should I not follow my master willingly even unto death? Have I not eaten of thy bread and drunk of thy wine into this day? Have I not enjoyed the happy days; how then shall I refuse to share those of evil? O! that the Lord might save thee out of this danger, and take my soul as an atonement. I am but a single man, but for thee mourn a wife and seven young children."
And when Malchi had spoken these words he could utter no more, for his soul became faint, and he sunk down upon the ground.
Then broke the heart of Baruch, and he fell upon his face in his grief, and wept and spoke: "Lord, Lord, the God of heaven and earth, destroy me, for I am not worthy the grace which Thou hast shown me, and the burden of my sins rests heavily on my soul. Therefore destroy me, since my deeds merit it!"
And when Baruch had spoken these words he was silent and wept greatly.
But behold, there arose a rushing noise from afar out of the rock, like unto the rushing of a spring. And Baruch raised his head, and the camel too then raised his head and bent his ears at the sound, and approached the rock. Baruch, however, said:--"Will the angel of the Lord do a wonder, and open for us the rock in the midst of the desert, to save us from destruction?
Thus spoke Baruch and hurried forward, and behold, at the foot of the rock in the hollow bubbled up a little spring of clear water, and it flowed cool and abundant, and its form was lovely to the sight.
Then, fell Baruch anew on his face, and wept, and exclaimed: "Alas, Lord God, now I acknowledge in truth that Thou art merciful and of great goodness, and that Thou doest wonders, although I am unworthy of thy mercy!"
Yet Baruch drank not out of the spring, but brought quickly a cup, filled it, and run up to his servant Malchi, and washed his temples, and moistened his lips. Malchi then opened his eyes and looked at his lord. But Baruch fell upon his neck and wept for joy, and exclaimed: "O Malchi, thou friend of my heart, no more my servant! O, that I have found thee!--Behold, the angel of the Lord has shown us a spring! therefore drink, and refresh thy soul, in order that thou mayest live and I too may live."
And after Malchi had drunk, his soul was refreshed; and Baruch led him to the spring, and they took food which they had brought along from the camel, and seated themselves in the coolness of the spring, and ate and drank, and were satisfied. They also watered their beast and rested from their fatigues, and their souls were refreshed and they became joyous and of good spirit. And they remained there the night until the following day.
When now the sun rose, Malchi said to his lord: "Behold, the sun has risen. If it is thy desire, then will I fill the water-skins, and we will move forward unto the prophet in the land of Mitzraim towards the west. We probably are now not far distant."
Baruch thereupon looked smilingly upon his trusty servant, grasped his hand, and said: "Malchi, my brother, not so! Behold, the Lord has given met the wisdom, which I have sought. For what should we need the prophet of Mitzraim? Well then, we will journey towards the east, the way which we came."
They thereupon filled the skins with fresh water, watered the camel, and drank themselves, and blessed the spring which had saved them from destruction, and departed joyfully on their way:
And when they arrived at their home at Damascus, Thirza, the wife of Baruch, was sitting at the door of the house, with her seven children beneath the palms, and she was terrified when she saw Baruch and his servant Malchi. Baruch, however, pressed his wife and children to his heart, and wept for joy.
Then Thirza raised her voice and said: "Blessed be unto me the wise man of Mitzraim, who has so speedily sent you home again, and blessed be unto me Baruch, my beloved. For behold, thy countenance is quite altered, and thy face beams unto me like an angel of peace. Tell me, I pray, the name of the man of God, who has called back peace into thy soul, that I may bless him."
But Baruch smiled and gazed on his wife, and told her every thing as it had happened to him and Malchi from beginning to end. Then he said: "Behold, not a man and a prophet but the Lord himself has instructed me. In the desert have I learned humility; in the little water-spring have I recognised the grace of the All-merciful and his goodness; and in my servant I have found a man and a friend! And now I return to you a new man, and peace dwells in my heart, that is costlier than gold and silver and which my wealth was not able to give me."
Thus spoke Baruch, and his course was friendly and simple and just till the end of his days. But with his treasures he did good in the whole country around, and there was found no poor man whom he assisted not in his poverty. Then said the poor, whom he aided: "Well may he justly be called Baruch, for he is one that is blessed of the Lord, and from him too comes blessing."
But he said: "Behold, this also the spring has taught me."
And when a year had elapsed, he travelled on to the spring with Malchi his friend, and wife and children, and consecrated the spring, and built near it an oasis for the pilgrims of the desert.
But the spring he called Beere Refuah, which means the "Spring of Recovery." Thus it is called till this very day.