Home > Send-a-Prayer Service >> > Bio's and Stories > Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai, the Pauper

Many of our greatest Sages were sustained at spiritual "tables" richly laden with the greatest delicacies, while their physical tables were almost bare. One such Sage was Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai, who lived in the time of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel.

It was of no importance to him that he ate only the simplest fare, or even that he lacked proper clothing. His Torah learning sufficed to nourish him, even to the extent that he glowed with happiness and good health. Rabbi Yehuda never dressed in the noble manner befitting a person of his stature. In fact, he didn't even own any warm clothing at all.

One day his wife managed to purchase some inexpensive wool yarn. She spun it and wove it into cloth. From this material she fashioned a loose robe worn as a cloak. She even decorated it with beautiful embroidery to give it a finer appearance, as was fitting for her distinguished husband. Now, this type of garment was worn at that time by men and women alike, so Rabbi Yehuda and his wife shared it. When she needed to do errands in the marketplace she wore it; when Rabbi Yehuda went to the study hall he would wear the new cloak. He was, in fact, so pleased to own this warm coat that he composed a special blessing to be recited before putting it on: "Blessed is G-d who has enwrapped me in a cloak."