Weekly Chasidic Story #829 (s5774-07 / 10 Cheshvan 5774)

Missing A Penny

Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl told the merchant that his going early to buy merchandise from the farmers before praying is illogical.

Connection: Weekly Reading-Last week's Torah Reading - Gen. 13:8-13 (income vs. faith)


Missing A Penny


An unlearned Jew once traveled to the tzadik Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl for Shabbat. When he went to get a blessing before departing, R. Mordechai queried him about his daily routine. The Jew related how he rises early to buy merchandise from the farmers, and when he finishes he returns home to daven Shacharit (pray the Morning Payer). The Rebbe condemned going to work before praying, but the Jew excused himself saying that if he prays first, he will be unable to be on time to buy the merchandise.

R. Mordechai then told him the following story:

A young Torah scholar, who was supported by his father-in-law in order to enable him to devote his day to Torah-study, was forced to find additional means of support when his family grew. He left home for three years and earned money as a melamed (teacher-tutor), saving every coin he received, exchanging large amounts of lesser coins for single gold ones. When he had collected enough to start a business, he decided to return home.

On Friday midday he reached a small village near his city, but then he realized that he did not have enough time to reach home before Shabbat. He decided to stay at a local hostel.

He became concerned for the safety of his money. He was afraid to leave it in his luggage lest someone steal it, and he did not know if he can trust the owner with it. Nevertheless, feeling that he had no other choice, he gave it to his host to hold for him.

Throughout the entire Shabbat, the young man was unable to relax properly; he was too worried about his money. Immediately after Havdala at the beginning of Saturday night, he requested it back. Upon receiving his wallet, he counted all the gold coins and was happy to find that nothing was missing. Still, he then continued to shake the coins and look through them.

"What are you looking for?" the owner asked, "Is something missing?"

The guest told him that he wanted to make sure that his one copper coin is there as well....

Reb Mordechai concluded,"Look at this man's silliness. After seeing that all his golden coins were returned to him, he still suspects his host of perhaps stolen one copper coin. And you are doing the same!

Every night, you entrust G-d Al-mighty with your soul, and when you wake up in the morning, he returns the gold you have given him. How is it that you do not trust that he will still give you your living if you do not pursue it until after praying?"

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Lma'an Yishme'u #70

Biographical note:
Rabbi Mordechai ("Mottel") of Chernobyl [of blessed memory: 5530 - 20 Iyar 5697 (1770 – May 1837 C.E.)], successor to his father, Rabbi Nachum, was the son-in-law of Rabbi Aharon the Great of Karlin and subsequently of Rabbi David Seirkes, an important disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. His eight sons all became major Chasidic leaders. One of them Yaakov Yisrael Twerski of Cherkassy, the first Hornsteipel Rebbe, married Devora Leah, one of the six daughters of Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch, son of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (match arranged by the two grandfather-Rebbes), in order to maximize the possibilities for fulfillment of the prediction, "the Moshiach will be born of the elder disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch or the youngest."

Connection: Weekly Reading—Gen. 13:8-13 (income vs. faith)


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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