Long ago in a Polish town there lived a wise Rabbi. One night a peddler came to the Rabbi's house. "Rabbi," he said, "I am going to kill myself!"
"Heaven, forbid!" cried the Rabbi, "What could make you have such a sinful thought?"
"Is it better than I should starve to death! Today my horse died and without a horse I cannot earn my living!"
"Look," said the Rabbi, "the Holy One, Blessed be He, will provide for you. Tonight, at midnight, meet me at the stable of the Count." The peddler had no idea what the Rabbi could mean, but obediently he arrived at the Count's stables at 12 o'clock sharp. The Rabbi took him to one of the stalls and told him to take the beautiful white stallion standing there.
"Oy, vay!" said the peddler, "I can't do this, the Count will have me hanged!"
"Don't worry," the Rabbi assured him, "take the horse and go in peace." Since in those days one did not disobey a Rabbi, the peddler did as he was told.
When he had gone the Rabbi lay down in the stall and went to sleep. The next morning the Count arrived with his groom and seeing the man asleep on the floor, kicked him and cried: "Hey you, who are you, what are you doing here, where is my horse?!"
The Rabbi sat up and rubbed his eyes. Then he jumped to his feet and raised his hands to the sky and cried: "Thanks be to God, creator of the Universe!"
"What's this, what's this," cried the Count,"what is going on, who are you, where is my horse??!"
"Don't you understand?" said the Rabbi, "I was your horse! I used to be a famous scholar. But one night I succumbed to the Evil Impulse and went to a prostitute. In punishment the Holy One turned me into your horse. But in my misery I repented and prayed for forgiveness. Finally my prayers were heard and I have been changed back into a human being. Thanks be to God, creator of the Universe!"
Now the Count was a devout man and a respecter of miracles and so he also cried, "Thanks be to God, creator of the Universe!" and let the Rabbi go.
Several weeks later the Count was riding through the town. Suddenly he spied the peddler leading his beautiful white stallion. He leaped from his carriage and ran to the beast, struck him brutally on the rear end with his riding crop and shrieked: "Scoundrel! Ingrate! Going to prostitutes again??!!"