From Fugitive Pieces, a novel by Anne Michaels

A parable: A respected rabbi is asked to speak to the congregation of a neighboring village. The rabbi, rather famous for his practical wisdom, is approached for advice wherever he goes. Wishing to have a few hours to himself on the train, he disguises himself in shabby clothes and, with his withered posture, passes for a peasant. The disguise is so effective that he evokes disapproving stares and whispered insults from the well-to-do passengers around him. When the rabbi arrives at his destination, he’s met by the dignitaries of the community, who greet him with warmth and respect, tactfully ignoring his appearance. Those who had ridiculed him on the train realize his prominence and their error and immediately beg his forgiveness. The old man is silent. For months after, these Jews–who, after all, consider themselves good and pious men–implore the rabbi to absolve them. The rabbi remains silent. Finally, when almost a year has passed, they come to the old man on the Day of Awe, when, it is written, each man must forgive his fellow. But the rabbi still refuses to speak. Exasperated, they finally raise their voices: How can a holy man commit such a sin–to withhold forgiveness on this day of days? The rabbi smiles seriously. “All this time you have been asking the wrong man. You must ask the man on the train to forgive you.”