Rabbi Simon Mendes, who settled near the headwaters of the Susquehanna in 1840 or thereabouts, was a good man —pious, but full of humor and adept at quick repartee.

One Sunday morning, he was presented with a fine string of pickerel, caught by one Heinrich Herrman, a member of his tiny congregation. 

“Rabbi, I want you to have the fish,” said the man somewhat nervously, “but it’s only fair to tell you that they were caught on shabbes.”

“Heinrich,” replied Rabbi Mendes, as he reached for the string, “the Lord and I both know that the pickerel were not to blame.”


From The Best of American Jewish Humor, by Henry D. Spalding

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