/ 29 Shevat 5768)
The villager took some of his furniture and his cow, sold them, and gave the Baal Shem Tov the money.
Reb Zev Wolf once accompanied the Besht (Baal Shem Tov) on a visit to a certain village Jew. The impoverished villager welcomed the Besht into his home.
"I must have a donation of 18 rubles," the Besht requested. The poor man did not have this large sum. But, considering that it was the Besht making the request, the villager took some of his furniture and his cow, sold them, and gave the Besht the money. Reb Zev Wolf looked on silently while the Besht took the money and then departed.
Several days later the villager's rent was due on his inn. He could not produce the sum and the landlord evicted him. The villager, seeing no future for himself in this small village, decided to try his luck elsewhere. He finally found himself a tiny hut in a different village with a different landlord. By selling some more of his possessions, the villager managed to buy a cow. The cow provided him with his sole source of income; he sold her milk and eked out a meager living.
Some time later the landlord's cow became sick and her milk was unusable. One of the landlord's servants who knew of the new tenant quickly went to this villager and bought milk for the landlord.
When the landlord was served
the milk, he commented, "This milk is of a superior quality. Tell the owner
that I will pay handsomely for the privilege of being his only customer."
The landlord's relationship and bond with the villager became so deep that, being childless, he transferred ownership of that village and the nearby city to the Jew. Feeling that now everything was in good hands, the landlord took leave and went abroad after having given the Jew legal title to that area.
A few years later, Reb Zev Wolf came to the village of the new landlord collecting money on behalf of Jewish prisoners and captives. Reb Zev Wolf had already collected all but 300 rubles of the sum which the Besht had designated.
Upon meeting with the village rabbi, Reb Zev Wolf questioned him as to why he was so festively attired.
"I am going, together with a group of the town dignitaries, to greet the landlord of this city who will be paying us a visit today. Why don't you come along with us? He is a Jew and will most probably be willing to contribute to your cause."
Reb Zev Wolf accompanied the rabbi and his companions. The landlord greeted the delegation warmly, paying special attention to Reb Zev Wolf. After a little while, the landlord took Reb Zev Wolf aside.
"You don't remember me, do you?" he asked. Reb Zev Wolf could not place the wealthy man's face. The landlord went on to retell the story of his change of fortune. Then, he took out 300 rubles and gave it to Reb Zev Wolf.
It was only upon returning to the Besht that Reb Zev Wolf understood the entire story. "The last 300 rubles were donated by the village Jew whom you once asked for a donation of 18 rubles. Today he is a wealthy man."
"Let me now tell you
why I extracted that large sum from him when his circumstances were so difficult,"
explained the Besht. "A change of fortune was awaiting him in the future
but not in that place. It was necessary to bring him to the end of his rope so
that he would be forced to leave and settle elsewhere. That is exactly what happened.
The rest you already know."
[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#812), with permission.]
Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.
A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.
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