One of the pious rabbis lifted his eyes to Heaven and asked God to reveal to him his position in the afterlife. To his surprise, he heard a voice telling him that he would be in paradise with one of the rich people.
After his long spiritual strife since childhood, his dedication to learning and teaching, and his love and care for his people, this pious rabbi was surprised to hear that he would attain what the rich man living a luxurious life would attain. The rabbi met the rich man and started to ask him about his spiritual life and his behavior.
The rich man told him that he lived a normal daily life just like any of his other rich friends. As the rabbi tried to find out more about him, he answered that he always used to give some of his money to the poor. The rabbi told the rich man that it is impossible to attain the same inheritance in Paradise as he had attained by simply giving alms to the poor. Therefore, he asked the rich man about some of his acts of love.
The rich man told him that he used to meet one of the ship owners, who used to bring and sell to him some jewelry or precious articles from time to time. Once, he met the ship owner and asked him if he had brought anything precious with him. The ship owner told him that he did not bring anything but 200 slaves that he wanted to sell for 10,000 pieces of gold. The rich man felt that the price was not important, but that setting free 200 slaves of his own race was more precious than gold. Without hesitation, he gave the gold to the ship owner and took the slaves. He offered them all what they needed of houses, food and drinks and also prepared the weddings for some of their sons. The whole city was transformed as if into a great feast.
The rich man saw that one of the girls among those whom he set free was characterized as being very gentle and beautiful, so he wanted his son to marry her. His son agreed and when he proposed to the girl, she agreed as well. A great ceremony was held for the engagement of the son of the rich man. The entire city was happy, especially the slaves who had been set free.
The next day, the rich man noticed that one of the slaves who had been set free was sad, and when he asked him why he was sad he did not answer. He told him that he was thankful that he set him and his fellow slaves free and provided for their needs, but that something distressed him a bit. This was the marriage between his son and the beautiful girl. The young man was upset because he and the girl had made arrangements to get married before they were set free. The man was quiet for few moments and then asked, “Why didn’t you tell me this before the engagement of my son?”
The young man answered, “I was shy because of your immeasurable kindness to me and my fellow slaves.”
“What can I offer you,” asked the rich man, “to compensate for your loss?”
The man was quiet again and then went to his son and explained the situation to him. The son then declared his desire to leave the girl, because he could not be happy at the expense of someone else’s happiness and the ceremony of the engagement was cancelled. The rich man, his son, and all those around them rejoiced for the happiness of the youth and the young girl who were once slaves but were now engaged to be married.
→ English translation of the story here at St-Takla.org:غني في الفردوس.
A Friend from Heaven
©st-takla.org : Saint Takla Haymanout Website: General Portal for the Coptic Orthodox Church Faith, Egypt / Contact us at:
Bible | Daily Readings | Agbeya | Books | Lyrics | Gallery | Media | Links | Contact us