Story of Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz – Computer Enhanced

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    The great scholar Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz was known far and wide for his enormous erudition and remarkably sharp wit. The governor of the city of Metz took great pleasure in testing the rabbi’s intellect. He would make a decree against the Jewish residents, knowing full well that Rabbi Eibeshutz would dash to his palace to intercede for his brethren. Then, the governor would pose some difficult puzzle or riddle to attempt to stump the great scholar. As history records it, fortunately, Rabbi Eibeshutz always succeeded in besting his foe and having the evil decree nullified.

    Once the governor issued a decree proclaiming that the Jews of Metz would be given a deadline by which they would all be required to submit to baptism. If they refused, which he knew they would, they would be forced from their homes into exile. The governor also knew from his past experience that Rabbi Eibeshutz would present himself at the governor’s palace in order to plead for his people. Then, he would snare the rabbi in his plot, for this time, the rabbi would surely fail.

    The Jews of Metz were thrown into turmoil. None would consider con-version, but what were they to do, where could they turn? Rabbi Eibeshutz immediately went to the governor. “Your excellency,” he began, “how can you punish an entire community of innocent souls. I beg of you not to inflict this terrible suffering upon innocent women and babes.”

    A cold smile passed across the governor’s face. “On the contrary, my dear rabbi, I am merely helping to fulfill a prophecy which is stated in scripture: ‘A great trouble will ensue, so terrible as never before experienced and never to be repeated again.’ This passage is interpreted to refer to the Jews. I consider it my great privilege to help bring it about.”

    Now came the moment the governor had waited for with such delight. With suppressed glee he turned to Rabbi Eibeshutz and continued: “But, my dear friend, I will give you the opportunity of nullifying my decree.”

    “And how may I do that,” the rabbi asked.

    “All you have to do is to answer a few questions which I will pose to you. Are you agreeable to this arrangement?” asked the governor.

    “Yes, what are the questions?”

    “First, tell me immediately and without hesitation how many letters there are in the [Hebrew] sentence I just quoted to you?”

    With not even a pause, Rabbi Eibeshutz replied, “There are the same number as the years of your life, sixty.”

    The governor was astounded, but not deterred. He continued with his next question: “Now, how many words did the same sentence contain?”

    The rabbi answered with the same swiftness, “There are seventeen words–the same as in our famous saying, `Israel lives forever’–Am Yisroel Chai L’Olmai Ad.

    The governor couldn’t contain his admiration. “Wonderful! Now, tell me how many Jews live in Metz and its surrounding areas?”

    Again Rabbi Eibeshutz didn’t hesitate: “There are 45,760 Jews in the city of Metz and all of its suburbs, Your Excellency.”

    The governor was momentarily thrown off guard by the rabbi’s brilliant answers. But he soon regained his bearings and threw out the last, and impossible demand. “I want you to write ‘Israel lives forever’ 45,760 times, on a parchment no larger than the ones you use for your mezuza scrolls.” This time he knew he had won and he smirked with satisfaction.

    Rabbi Eibeshutz paled when he heard this absurd and impossible order. “How long do I have to fulfill your command,” he asked.

    “I give you one hour,” was the triumphant reply. “And remember that the fate of your unfortunate brethren is in your hands.”

    Rabbi Eibeshutz disappeared, but when one hour had elapsed he presented himself at the governor’s palace.

    “Your Honor, I have in my hand a parchment with the dimensions of 2″ by 4″. On it is written an anagram with the solution to your puzzle. My drawing contains 15 Hebrew letters across and 19 letters down.”

    The governor couldn’t believe his ears. He reached out his hand to take the parchment from Rabbi Eibeshutz. As he stared at it, uncomprehending, the rabbi continued to explain:

    “When you read this you will see the words, ‘Am Yisroel Chai L’Olmai Ad,’ written in every direction. It is spelled out 45,760 different ways.”

    The governor was too shocked to reply, and the rabbi continued. “I request of Your Honor to cancel the decree pending your deciphering this code, since it may take you some time to work it out.”

    The governor agreed. It is said that the governor worked at Rabbi Eibeshutz’s anagram a full year before he was able to decipher all the combinations of words. When he completed his study of it, the governor summoned the rabbi to his palace. He embraced the scholar and said, “I can truly see that your G-d has imparted His wisdom to his followers.” The governor no longer tormented the Jews of his city and until the end of his life held Rabbi Eibeshutz in the highest esteem.

    Click HERE to see an interactive demonstration of the anagram solution



    Thanks for the story CC. Here comes another one… When Reb Yonason was just a little boy his father gave him a few pennies on his way to cheder to buy himself a treat. As Reb Yonason was walking the evil goy Evan walked over to him and slapped him across the face. Surprisingly RebYonasan took the coins from his pocket and presented them to Evan. The surprised Evan immediately asked ” is this in return for the slap?!” and he bursted out laughing. Whithout blinking Reb Yonason replied “why yes of course!! dont u know that today is a jewish holiday which requires us to reward every gentile who harms us with all of our money?!” Evan just couldn’t believe his ears this is his lucky day! Quickly he strode over to the famous jewish rich guy and with all due respect handed him a ringing slap. But instead of money the rich person sounded the alarm and Evan was presented with the beating of his lifetime!!


    i didn’t read the first story(to long) but the second was cute


    and r’ yonasan thought of that inless than an hr?what if it wouldv’e been 47,563 jews?

    d a

    goody, ask him!!!


    Nice stories!


    Wow, at first I also thought the first story would be too long to read. But it was very interesting. Its amazing how brilliant he was!!

    Ken Zayn

    chofetzchaim, firstly its great to see you back here again (Dec 2011) you have the best threads and posts, especially the mishnayos puns and purim ones also. You must be one of the longest standing posters here. Please post more regularly. We need guys like you here.

    The links at the end of your OP above do not work. Are you able to repair/suggest alternative? And while you are repairing links, your amazing link for searching the coffeeroom now only brings me to the regular google page. It was better before you modified it. Can you help? Thanx CC!


    chofetzchaim: Great post,can you please provide a source(i like to see things inside)and the link doesn’t work,thanks.


    I once wrote a script to give the results how many times it would give you that sentence depending on any given dimensions.


    Ive seen the am yisrael chai “puzzle” printed in some of his seforim. I believe Tiferes Yonasan was the name of the sefer I saw it in.


    it says “page not found”


    what if it wouldv’e been 47,563 jews?

    Every non-zero positive whole number occurs in Pascal’s triangle. Also it is possible add a row and than eliminate positions to get whatever number of combinations you want.


    apushatayi: Do you remember what parsha you saw it in?


    Baruch Hashem I found it.It was bothering me that I couldn’t find it, here it i:

    it is remarkable(takes some time to figure out how it works).



    function calc(up,acrs)


    if(up==0) return 0 ; if(up==1) return 1

    if(acrs==0) return 0 ; if(acrs==1) return 1

    var answr = calc(up-1,acrs) + calc(up,acrs-1)

    return answr



    <input id=in1><input id=in2><input type=button value=calculate onclick=result.innerHTML=calc(in1.value,in2.value)><div id=result></div>

    Put this into a new file named AmYisroel.html

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