Once Mordekai has read aloud this phrase from the Zohar, he goes outside and the wise men of Chelm are left in the town hall holding this hot potato.
The first to speak is Elijah: “The first thing that should be clarified here is which Jacob”.
“What do you mean by ‘which Jacob’?” Evrom asks.
“Do you know how many Jacobs are in the world?!”, Elijah answers back.
“No. How many?”
“Well, I haven’t counted them but …”
Chatzkel interrupts him: “I have! I have!”
“Do you have what?”
“I have counted them! And the exact number is a lot.”
“Are you sure about that? Don’t you forget any?”
“Yes, you forget my brother-in-law”, Dudel says.
“You mean Dovid?”
“Neyn. The other one: Hendel’s husband. He is named Jacob.”
“And there is also Jacob the fiddler”, someone says.
“And Jacob Aksenfeld”, adds another.
“Who is that?”
“Don’t you remember Aksenfeld? The one who emigrated to America to make his fortune but he messed up and made somebody else’s fortune?”
“And what about the son of Eidel? They have named him Jacob.”
“Eidel’s son has just been born. I don’t believe that Kabbalah is aware of his birth.”
“Don’t underestimate Kabbalah. Kabbalah is wiser than you think. She is aware of everything.”
“And you also forget ‘The Late Jacob’!”
“But he doesn’t count because ‘The Late Jacob’ is dead. That’s why they call him ‘The Late Jacob’.”
Chatzkel gets up with stunned expression: “’The Late Jacob’ is dead?! Now I understand why he never leaves home!”
“The dead don’t count, Evrom?” Dovid asks.
Evrom, who has been putting up with his companions’ debate, suddenly explodes into a rage: “You fools!! The Jacob mentioned in the Kabbalah is the Torah’s Jacob!”
“You mean Israel?”, Dudel asks amazed.
“That’s the name he was given later.”
“But then he doesn’t count!”
“Genug shoin! (Enough already!)”, Evrom screams. “Let’s focus on the phrase in question! Mordekai!… Where the hell is Mordekai?!”
Dovid looks out the window and sees Mordekai imitating a stork. He shouts for him and moments later Mordekai rushes in: “Are you done yet?”
“No. We haven’t started yet”, Evrom says, “Reread the phrase, please.”
Mordekai obeys: “And Jacob said: To deal with Esau, these blessings will suffice and I will keep the others for when my children need them.”
There is a long silence, after which Evrom sentences: “Jacob was a thrifty man. That honors him.”
“Yeah”, Elijah agrees. “I know someone in this town who lived hand to mouth. He wasted all the blessings, and when he needed most, he had no blessings at all.”
Dudel stares at him. If looks could kill, Elijah would have died instantly.