If a shidduch is bashert

Rav Yehudah Halevi, the author of the Kuzari, was a very wealthy man. He had only one daughter, who had not yet found her basherte. Rav Yehudah’s wife constantly badgered him about a shidduch for her. “Why is it that our daughter is not engaged yet?” she would ask. “We are wealthy and you are a tremendous talmid chacham! But remember, you must not find just any boy for our daughter. He has to be the best of the best. The smartest of the smart. The wisest of the wise.” One day when his wife was once again nagging him about finding a shidduch, he became extremely frustrated. “The next person who walks through our front door will become our son-inlaw,” he vowed. The very next morning, while Rav Yehudah was learning in the beis midrash, there was a knock on the door of his home. A beggar dressed in rags stood there. Unbeknownst to anyone, it was really the Ibn Ezra, who had gone into galus and hidden his true identity. As soon as Rav Yehudah’s wife saw him, she remembered her husband’s promise. In a state of panic, she ran to tell him about the beggar. “A promise is a promise,” Rav Yehudah told his wife. “But don’t worry. I will teach him Torah.” And so Rav Yehudah’s daughter became engaged to the man everyone thought was a simple beggar. Rav Yehudah sat with this beggar every day and taught him Torah.


The Ibn Ezra pretended to slowly understand what Rav Yehudah was teaching. He ate at Rav Yehudah Halevi’s house every night. One night the family waited a long time for Rav Yehudah to come home for supper. The chasan wanted to know what Rav Yehudah was doing. Rav Yehudah’s wife tried to brush off the question; after all, what did this ignorant beggar understand? But the beggar insisted on knowing. Seeing how persistent he was, Rav Yehudah’s wife took him to the beis midrash. She showed him a paper on which Rav Yehudah had written part of a piyut. The poem used all the letters of the alef-beis. Only the letter reish was missing; Rav Yehudah had sat a long time over this letter but could not think of the right words for it. The Ibn Ezra read the poem. He took out a pen and corrected three mistakes. He then filled in the words for the letter reish. When Rav Yehudah saw his poem with the corrections, he immediately recognized the handwriting of the Ibn Ezra. He confronted his chasan. “If you are the Ibn Ezra, I demand that you reveal yourself to me.” The Ibn Ezra admitted his identity. A big seudah was held in honor of the Ibn Ezra, where Rav Yehudah, his wife and their daughter rejoiced in the celebration of this wonderful shidduch. A while later, there was a big wedding in town—a wedding befitting a fatherin-law like Rav Yehudah and a son-inlaw like the Ibn Ezra.


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