Some 3,000 years ago, a poor farmer named Adir lived with his wife and three children in a small village about 50 miles from Jerusalem. He was a subsistence farmer, working hard to get the most out of his tiny plot of land, but he was barely managing to feed his family.
His neighbors were equally poor, and although they liked and admired Adir, they were envious of him because he had something they lacked—a cow. This cow was nothing like the robust cattle we might see when driving through the countryside today. On the contrary, she was skinny and looked a bit sickly, but the small amount of milk Adir was able to get from her a couple of times each week gave him something to trade for other items that kept his family going. Needless to say, he was very grateful for the cow and never considered slaughtering her, although the meat would have provided several meals for the family.
One day, a well-known spiritual leader entered Adir's village, along with a small group of followers and students. The man was called Ba'al Shem Tov. In the Hebrew language Ba'al means master, Shem means name, and Tov means good.
Adir was a very spiritual man, so he was quite excited when word spread that the Ba'al Shem Tov was in his village, and absolutely thrilled when the great leader approached his shabby home and stopped in front. His excitement turned to shock when the Ba'al Shem Tov announced that he and his followers were tired from the day's travels and asked if they could ...