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Chapter 08

Joseph’s plan of revenge met with success, and Ha-cohen was immediately taken to prison. The four elders were almost pleased that he was imprisoned with them, for they knew full well that a man of position like my brother-in-law, a very rich and notable man of our town, would not be left there for long, especially as his wife’s mother, a clever and noble woman, would move heaven and earth to set him free.

This lady hastened to the Justice of the town, and put before him all the details of the case, explaining that Joseph’s words were an invention. She therefore asked him to set her son-in-law free. But although the Justice respected her highly, and recognized the truth of her words, he was compelled to refuse.

Meantime, it came to their ears that Joseph, while making his rounds through the neighbouring town with his merchandise, had been upbraided by the people for bringing an innocent man to prison; and in defence, he had excused himself, saying: “I must confess that my words against Ha-cohen were not true, but I acted so because he angered me and I wanted to be revenged.”

On hearing this, my wife’s mother at once set out for these places, summoned the people to the Beth Din, and obliged them to produce a written statement of Joseph’s confession which he had openly declared before them. This written evidence she sent to the Justice of Úsov, who liberated Ha-cohen on condition that his father-in-law should remain a prisoner in his place until such time as Ha-cohen could prove Joseph’s words to be false.

Thereupon my brother-in-law went in secret to Vienna, and stayed there for eighteen weeks. The Jewish elders there, with the aid of Prince Lichtenstein, did all that they could for him.

The Court of Justice declared my brother-in-law innocent, and no corporal punishment whatsoever was inflicted on him; but he had to agree to a compromise suggested by the priest of Úsov – to pay the Church four hundred gulden.

This sum Ha-cohen was not able to pay, as all his own money had been used up in his trial: but the Jews of Vienna were generous enough to pay for him. (May the God of Israel remember it to them for good!)

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