Rabbi Chaim of Sanz (Polish chassidic master, 1793–1876) once sought an honest man in the marketplace. First he stopped Yossel and asked, “Yossel! If you found a wallet on the street, what would you do?”
“Of course, I would return it to its owner!” replied Yossel.
“Yossel, you are a fool!” exclaimed the rabbi. “Now stay here.”
And the rabbi called over another man.
“Feivel, if you found a wallet on the street, what would you do?”
“Rabbi, you know me,” answered Feivel. “I would probably keep it for myself. I need the money badly, and I’m not such a good Jew.”
“Feivel, you must repent! In the meantime, stand here!”
And he called over another man.
“Laibel, if you found a wallet on the street, what would you do?”
Laibel began to tremble.
“Answer me, Laibel, what would you do?”
“Rabbi,” Laibel spoke, his eyes to the ground, “I really don’t know what I would do! I don’t know who would win inside me, my yetzer tov (good inclination) or my yetzer hara (evil inclination)!”
“Laibel,” the rabbi replied, “you are an honest man!”