top of page



©Translated from Yom Tov Ehrlich Yiddish by: Dina Storch



The night was a cold one and frosty
Winter had taken its toll
The wind blew and whistled so fiercely
Out on the streets, not a soul

And somewhere a beautiful shul stood
They came there from near and from far
For Shemaya and Avtalyon were speaking
“Tzadikim”- Gedolei Hador

And there at the door stood the Shammos
Insisting that each pay his share
“Tonight there will be no exceptions-
It’s a privilege to learn Torah here!”

Up front the Chachomim sat waiting
So eager to learn something new
The warmth and excitement was growing
The cold wind so bitterly blew

The poor stood outside and kept pleading
But “none” said the Shammos “comes free.
Each of the men had to pay me
And you, too, must pay equally”

“You don’t want to learn our Torah
You just want a place for your head
This is a place of Kedusha
So go somewhere else instead”

His teeth, from the cold, chattered loudly
His bones showed a poor, hungry man
He cried, ”Have pity, believe me
I’ll pay you as soon as I can”

“Whatever I earn is divided
Half for the shul-half for my home
I’ve always been able to help you-
Tonight there is nothing I own

Today there was nobody buying
It’s been an unfortunate day
My wife and the children are starving
There’s nothing with which I can pay”

The tears from the poor man keep rolling
I just want to learn some Torah tonight
But tears don’t impress the old Shammos
He locks up and waves him good-night

The old man, discouraged and broken
Presses his ear to the wall
But voices through stone could not reach him
And no one would hear if he’d call

The shul seemed to be so inviting
Yet, somehow he’s left there outside
He walks towards the back of the building
Perhaps there’s a door on its sides

The doors were all locked, but he found it
And climbed to the top of its stairs
He smiles as he peeks through the skylight
And sweet words of Torah he hears

He presses his nose to the window
It all seems too good to be true
There’s nothing from in there he’s missing
The warmth from within shines right through

They lift up their heads to the window
And there lies a form of a man
It’s Shabbos but all have decided
“Let’s run up as fast as we can”

They race up the stairs to the rooftop
Climbing through inches of snow
They bring down the poor man and warm him
His body is quivering so

They wrapped him in warm heavy blankets
And slowly he started to wake
Mumbling the words of the Drasha
Exactly- without one mistake

Shemaya was getting excited
Avtalyon was awed by his words
His name is “Hillel” he told them
And thanked them for all he had heard

I had not a cent in my pocket
And I wasn’t able to pay
The others just went home and left it
But from Torah I won’t go away

I’m grateful for all that you’ve taught me
The poor man kept thanking the two
They both shrugged their shoulder exclaiming
“There is so much that we’ve learned from you!”

You’re stronger and, oh, so much better
Yes-Hillel- we’ll never forget
Your Torah is value forever
Because it was harder to get

And Hillel kept growing in Torah
The poor man became the Nasee Hador
Teaching so many Talmidim
His greatness grew more and more!

bottom of page