The Just Man


One of the Just Men came to Sodom, determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. Night and day he walked the streets and markets protesting against greed and theft, falsehood and indifference. In the beginning, people listened and smiled ironically. Then they stopped listening; he no longer even amused them. The killers went on killing, the wise kept silent, as if there were no Just Man in their midst.

One day a child, moved by compassion for the unfortunate teacher, approached him with these words: “Poor stranger, you shout, you scream, don't you see that it is hopeless?”

“Yes, I see,” answered the Just Man.

“Then why do you go on?”

“I'll tell you why. In the beginning, I thought I could change man. Today, I know I cannot. If I still shout today, if I still scream, it is to prevent man from ultimately changing me.”


Source: Quoted in Wiesel, Elie. One Generation After. NY: Schocken Books, 1982.