During the year I spent studying with Drs. Gary Gray and David Tiberio at The Gray Institute, I had the pleasure of meeting Gary’s son Brad, who shared this powerful story (credited to biblical historian Ray Vanderlaan) that has remained with me.
Below is my (hopefully not too bastardized) recollection of it:
One night a Rabbi was out walking, hoping the fresh air would help him clarify something he had been reading in the Torah earlier in the day. Outside the walls of Jerusalem, the Rabbi soon lost himself in prayer.
Suddenly, the rabbi was startled out of his prayerful reflection by someone shouting “Who you and what are you doing here?!”
Rather than stay on the path that would lead him back home, the Rabbi quickly realized he wandered into a Roman encampment.
The Roman centurion who called out before repeated his questions, “Who are you and what are you doing here?!”
Instead of responding directly, the Rabbi asked the guard, “What do you get paid for asking me these questions?”
Confused at first by the Rabbi’s response, the guard eventually replied tartly, “Three Denari a week!”
“Well, I will pay you double that if you’ll stand outside my house and ask me those questions every morning.”