Monday, November 22, 2010

Hillel and the Donkey Driver

A story is told about a donkey driver who came to Hillel the Elder. He said to him: ‘Rabbi, see how we are better off than you (Babylonians), for you are put to great trouble with all this travelling when you ascend from Babylon to Jerusalem, but I go forth from the entrance of my house and lodge in the entrance to Jerusalem’. He waited a bit and then said to him: ‘For how much would you rent me your donkey from here to Emmaus’? He answered: ‘A denarius’. ‘How much to Lod?’ He answered: ‘Two’. ‘How much to Caesarea?’ He answered: ‘Three’. He said to him: ‘I see that, in so far as I increase the distance, you increase the price’. He answered: ‘Yes, price is according to distance’. He said to him: ‘And should not the reward for my own feet be (at least) the equivalent of a beast’s feet?’ This is what Hillel used to maintain: ‘According to the painstaking, the reward’...
-Avot de Rabbi Nathan B”, Anthony Saladrini, trans., Leiden, 1975.
The above gives a rough idea of distances in the first centuries CE, and what a donkey driver might have charged for the journey. Each stage of the journey is roughly a day's distance, and would cost a day's wages.

No comments:

Post a Comment