The businessman was at his wits’ end. For years, he had eked
out a living through the small concession that the Polish government had
granted him. And now, his license was suddenly revoked, and he had no idea
where his next few zlotys would come from.
But for a chassid, all is never lost. With hope in hisHe had no idea where his next few zlotys would come from
heart, he traveled to the great Rabbi Chaim of Sanz, known far and wide as a
man of G‑d.
He told the saintly man of his troubles, hoping for a
blessing, or perhaps even a piece of Divinely-inspired advice. But all he got
were questions. “What’s your name? What was your father’s name? What was your
grandfather’s name?” And so it went. The rabbi asked the names of the troubled
man’s relatives, and he dutifully answered.
And with that, the audience ended.
Moments later, the chassid found himself outside the rabbi’s
study, greeted by the group of poor people who, in exchange for a few copper
coins, would bless those leaving that the rabbi’s words be fulfilled.
“I’m sorry,” he told the would-be well-wishers, “but I was
given no blessings from the rabbi for you to confirm, and have nothing to give
you in exchange for your blessings.”
They tried their best to persuade the chassid that even
being in the sage’s presence and having him listen to his problems surely
constituted a blessing, but he would hear none of it.
Distraught, the man went to the adjacent study hall where he
sat and sobbed. In the meantime, Rabbi Yitzchak, one of the most prominent and
well-regarded chassidim of the Rebbe of Sanz, entered the study hall and asked
the man what was wrong. After hearing the business man’s tale of woe, he too
tried to convince him that the great rebbe had surely blessed him, but the man
insisted on entering the rebbe’s chamber a second time, hoping for a more reassuring
And so, Rabbi Yitzchak went to the rebbe’s room and told him
about the man outside, and about his abiding sadness and worry.
“Let me tell you what is going on,” said the Rebbe of Sanz.
“And please invite the poor businessman to come in as well. He can also hear
“It happened when I was a young man. A group of more than 10
of my peers and I traveled by foot to the city of Lublin to bask in the
presence of the great Seer of Lublin. We decided among ourselves that we would
not ask anyone for food. Rather, we would go to the kindly people who put up
wayfarers like us and gladly rest our bones. If they gave us food, good. And if
not, we would continue onward.
“On Sunday, the first day of our trip, we were greeted
warmly, but no food was proffered. On Monday, the same thing happened. By that
night, I was feeling so weak that I could barely walk, and my friends had to
constantly wait for me to keep pace with them. And so it continued all of
Tuesday, the third day of our self-imposed fast.
“On Tuesday night, feeling that I had no strength at all, I
asked my friends to allow me to ask for food, seeing that I was younger and
weaker than the rest, but they refused, saying that an agreement was an
“On Wednesday morning, I was dragging myself along with my
last bit energy, when a man came running toward us. Seeing my sorry state, he
dashed into his house and came back with brandy and food for me, observing that
my soul was, as he said, ‘standing at the tip of my nose.’
“Grateful that I was able to eat the food since it had beenI ate hungrily and refreshed myself
offered without solicitation, I ate hungrily and refreshed myself. The kind
stranger then offered food to my companions as well.
“He then invited us all to his home to rest our weary legs.
We demurred, saying that we wanted to get to Lublin before Shabbat, and we
still had a day and a half of walking ahead of us. He told us that we could
still rest at his house and that he would take us to Lublin on his wagon early
We stayed the night in the kind man’s house and readied
ourselves for the wagon ride to Lublin. To our disappointment he then told us
that some things had come up, and he was no longer able to give us a ride to
Lublin as promised.
“Realizing that there was no longer time for us to arrive
before Shabbat if we were to travel by foot, we were greatly disappointed and
begged the man to keep his word and give us a ride. After much cajoling, he
agreed with one stipulation: ‘From now on,’ the man told us, ‘whenever any of
you travel to Lublin, you must make it a point to always spend at least one
Shabbat at my home, either on your way there or on your return, giving me the
pleasure of extending my hospitality.’
“Of course we agreed, and soon found ourselves riding along
to Lublin at a steady pace. We arrived in good time, and enjoyed a most
delightful Shabbat in the company of the holy Seer of Lublin.
“From then on, whenever I traveled to Lublin I always made
sure to spend Shabbat with this man who had saved my life.
“Years passed, and this kind man left this world. Recently
his soul came to me and requested a tikkun
(rectification) in exchange for the favor he had done for me.
“And so tell me, Reb Yitzchak,” said the sage of Sanz,
addressing his chassid, “do I not owe him a favor? He saved my life and I
wanted to do what I could. But I only knew his first name, not the name of his"Do I not owe him a favor?"
father, and in the world to come, a person is known by their name and the name
of their father. So I prayed to G‑d, asking him that a grandson of this man be
sent to me so that I can ask him the full name of his departed ancestor.
Rabbi Chaim turned to the businessman and continued: “This
man is worried that his business license has been revoked. The truth is that
it’s nothing. The license was taken from him temporarily so that he could come
to me for this purpose. Now that the name of his grandfather is known, there is
no need for a blessing. He can return home in peace and with confidence.”
And so it was.
Adapted from Avodat
Haavodah (Vayakhel) by Rabbi Meshulam Lowy of Tosh