A German man and a Russian man were very good friends. But friendship is made of nothing, if not rivalry.
The German man had four or five children, and the Russian man also had four or five children. They lived on either side of a small river which divided Russia and Germany. Even though they lived in two different countries, their houses were so close to each other that they could even speak loudly to each other from one side of the river to the other.
The German friend used to go fishing on his side of the river, and the Russian would do the same on his side. They would often come at the same time. Smiling at each other, they would start fishing on their respective sides of the river.
One day, when they were both fishing, the German man caught many fish one after another. But his poor Russian friend did not catch any fish although he was just across the small river. It seemed that on the Russian side there were no fish, while on the German side there were so many fish! The German friend was catching fish again and again and again.
The Russian friend was so miserable. He said, “Why am I not catching anything, while you keep catching one fish after the other? Please tell me, what is the secret?”
The German man said, “My Russian friend, you are such a fool! Do you not know that in your country, you are not allowed to open your mouth? In our country we are allowed to open our mouths, and we do so as much as we like. In your country even the fish are afraid of opening their mouths! If they do not open their mouths, how will you catch them?”
The Russian friend said, “My German friend, how right you are! It seems the only way I will ever be allowed to open my mouth is to go to Germany. But how shall I get there?”
The German friend replied, “Do not worry. I will come to help you. One evening I shall swim across. Do you know how to swim?”
The Russian man said, “No, I do not know how.”
The German friend responded, “No harm. I will carry you on my back and take you to the German side.”
The Russian man said, “That is fine. You will save my life. You are so compassionate.”
The Russian fellow was so grateful to the German because he was prepared to smuggle him into Germany. Alas, while the Russian man was eagerly waiting for his German friend to cross the river, the German man was swimming very happily and making a great deal of noise. He was making so much commotion that he could not escape the attention of the guards who were patrolling the shore on the Russian side.
“What is that?” the guards exclaimed. Seeing the German man swimming towards them, they kept quiet, and when the German reached the shore, they grabbed him.
“What are you coming here for?” they asked.
The German man replied, “I came to save my friend.”
The guards said, “You came to save your friend? Now we are arresting both of you!”
So, if you have an open heart, you suffer. And if you make fun of someone, somehow God punishes you. At first, the German man was making fun of the Russian for not being able to catch any fish. Then, he became so sympathetic and tried to save the Russian, in spite of the fact that the Russian man did not even know how to swim. Then, unfortunately, both of them were caught.