On the morning after Napoleon had won one of his most important battles, he summoned the commanders of his various legions to a pompous ceremony in his war-room to reward their bravery in battle.

The commander of the Bavarian troops stepped forward, fell to one knee before his king and declared: “I ask for autonomy for Bavaria!”

“So it shall be!” proclaimed the Emperor to the ministers and officials surrounding the scene. “Autonomy for Bavaria!”

The Slovakian general then stepped forward, fell to his knee and similarly declared, “Liberty for Slovakia!”

“Liberty it shall be!” shouted Bonaparte.

And so it was with the Arabian and the Ukrainian generals. “By G-d, autonomy and statehood for Arabia, and for the Ukrainians!” Napoleon announced.

Finally, the chief of the Jewish legion stepped forward. “And what of you, my loyal friend?” Napoleon asked. “What reward do you ask for your bravery?”

“I would like a cup of hot coffee with milk and no sugar, two bagels with cream cheese, and some lox on the side.”

Without hesitation, Napoleon sent one of his officers to bring the Jew’s order, saluted all those present, and left the room. Meanwhile, the breakfast arrived, and the Jewish general washed his hands for bread, sat down, and began eating while the other generals gaped in amazement.

“You fool!” one of them blurted out. “Why did you make such a stupid request? You could have asked for a nation, riches and power! Why did you waste your wish on a couple of bagels?”

The Jew stopped eating for a moment, looked up at them with a smile and replied: “At least I got what I asked for.”

Source | Two Bagels by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
published on


If you were ever caught in a situation where you were asked for anything you wanted, what would you ask for and why?


Author: philipchircop

I'm a Jesuit from Malta, an artist at heart and madly in love with all things beautiful and soulful: music, painting, sculpture, photography, film, theatre, poetry, good company, good food, good wine and more. I believe that beauty is a wonderful entry into the mystery of the God “whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” God can be sensed in all things if and when we engage in a long, loving look at the real that surrounds us. I consider myself a seeker with bottomless curiosity, an eternal student of life, exploring fresh and creative ways to proclaim the Good News in the hope of helping fellow pilgrims and seekers to embrace real and radical changes that will lead to conversion and transformation.

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