The following tale is related in a forgotten nineteenth-century volume on the literature of the ancient world. Its ultimate source is the Talmud (literally, “learning”), that immense compendium of Judaic civil and religious law, garnished with the diligent commentaries of hundreds of learned men. To the foreigner unfamiliar with its mysteries, it appears to be a vast encyclopedia on every conceivable subject, including the minutiae of social life, work, family, and leisure. Included also are fables, stories, allegories, proverbs, even jokes; the overall impression given is that of a distillation of cultural traditions and thought that spans many centuries. The Talmud itself contains two parts: the Mishna (the older text), and the Gemara, which is a commentary on the Mishna.