A tale of Moe and Joe

Joe Jacobson was in his forties when the hostilities began. He had become wealthy and powerful in the textile industry creating the finest gowns and garments in the land.

Some few years following the death of the Jewish Foreign Minister of the newly created Republic, there arose a new tyrant who did not acknowledge the Jews and their contributions to national society.

One night there was a loud knock on their door and soldiers dragged Joe, his wife Osnat and their two sons Fritz (Ephraim) and Manfred (Menashe) from their comfortable home and drove them to a railway station where they were herded like cattle in wooden box cars with other Jews and were taken away to a desolate and distant place where they were forced to do slave labor laying tracks for new railway lines. They were bitterly oppressed and faced hunger and deprivation in cold and in heat.

Osnat and their two sons died of starvation and Joe was bereft of his only family.

A year later an elderly bearded Jew was thrown into the same work camp. His name was Moe HaLevi. He had been an engraver of stone and marble monuments and was so frequently away from his home that he had little time to spend with his wife Tzipporah and their two sons, Gerhardt (Gershom) and Erich (Eliezer).

Moe was renowned not only for his carving skills but more so for his brilliant legal mind. He was quite familiar with the ancient law code of Hammurabi and could quote case histories from memory.
Moe and Joe shared space in the same hut and became fast friends. They shared stories of their pasts and spoke of a brighter future.

One day Joe whispered to Moe, “My friend, I am old and growing ill and I fear that the angel of death is approaching. I don’t know what our enemies may do to my body. But if you should survive, please promise me to find my remains and bury me in the soil of the holy land, the land of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I have no surviving family. I depend only upon you”. And Moe assured his friend that he would fulfill his request.

But miraculously, Joe grew stronger and continued living to see the defeat of his enemies and the death of the tyrant. Moe and Joe, following a long recovery, sailed to the new world , a promised land, where Joe went to work in the garment industry and where Moe opened a shop where he continued carving and engraving in stone and marble. Both men prospered.

A few years later, Joe died and his friend Moe remembered the promise he had made.

He carried Joe’s remains to the land of Israel and buried him there in a quiet spot.

Many people had heard of Joe’s earlier life and of his death and they began making pilgrimages of respect to his burial place.

Moe remained in the holy land where he earned a reputation as a scholar of the law.

People flocked to him to resolve disputes and to pose questions regarding their daily lives. He continued carving beautiful stone monuments which people admired. Now, in his old age, he hired an apprentice, Joshua Nunofsky, and trained him in the art and skill of industrial leadership

. Sometimes Moe would lose patience with people who asked him questions and to whom he gave answers which they did not accept. Joshua was quiet and aided Moe in resolving disputes. Moe was highly respected by the people because of his faithful fulfillment of the promise he had made years earlier to Joe.

One day in the early Spring when blossoms appeared on the trees, Moe decided to trek through the land and to climb to the top of a high mountain from where he could view the surrounding landscape. Whether he slipped and fell or suffered from a heart attack due to his old age is not known. But Moe died on the top of the mountain.

Joshua Nunofsky searched for him but his remains were nowhere to be found. To this day, no one knows Moe’s burial place. The people mourned for him and recalled his humility and noble virtues. Joshua continued the work in which he and Moe had been engaged and he became respected as a leader in industry.

Having learned law from Moe, he helped people to resolve legal disputes and defended them before local and alien judges. Moe’s efforts had not been in vain. Joshua Nunofsky devoted the rest of his life to continuing Moe’s efforts. He, like Moe, was a great and admired leader. His legacy was passed on, following his death, to judges whose decisions became law.

Kings and priests and political leaders from all lands held those laws in sacred respect and governed their people accordingly. People still make occasional visits to Joe Jacobson’s resting place.
But to this day, no one has discovered the burial place of Moe HaLevi.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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