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The Gift

The Gift

Ethics 3:16


Rabbi Akiva says: “Everything is given on loan, and the net is spread for the living. The store is open, and the storekeeper is watching. The notebook is open, and the hand writes. Whoever wishes to take out a loan, can come and take out a loan. And the collectors come around every day, to take back what is owing, whether a person knows it or not.” (Avot 3:16)

“What shall we do with the money?” the man said.
“What shall we do with the money?” the man said.

Once there was a poor young man who worked very hard as a simple laborer. He scarcely earned enough to feed his wife and children. But he never complained. He was always contented with what he had.

G‑d saw that the man was honest and G‑d-fearing, and decided to reward him. That day, as the young man was working in the field, an Arab came over and greeted him.

“You are a hard-working man,” the Arab said. “Do you know that G‑d wants to bless you with enough wealth for at least six years? Would you like to be rich now, or later on?”

The young man thought the Arab was making fun of him. “Leave me alone,” he said. “Let me get on with my work. I have no time for these stories.”

The next day the Arab came back again. “Still hard at work?” he said. “G‑d really wants to bless you with riches and comfort for six years. When would you like to start?”

“Again you bother me with your jokes!” the man exclaimed. “Do you think I will listen to your nonsense? Leave me alone!”

The following day, the Arab returned for the third time. When he began the same story again, the young man said, “Wait a bit. I’ll go ask my wife.”

He hurried home. “For three days, an Arab has come to me in the field,” he told her. “He keeps saying that G‑d wants to give me six years of wealth. He wants to know if I want it now or later. What should I say?”

“Tell him that you would like it now,” his wife replied.

When the man returned to the field, he told the Arab what his wife had said. “Good,” said the Arab. “When you return home, you will find that G‑d has blessed you.”

At that moment, the man’s children came running into the house. “Mother, Mother, look what we found in the sand!” They showed her a box they had uncovered. There was enough money in it to support the family for many years. When the father returned home, his wife told him about the newfound treasure.

Everyone was very happy. They praised G‑d for His goodness. “What shall we do with the money?” the man said.

“It’s not for ourselves,” his wife said. “This is only for the basic things we need, food and clothing. The rest will be for charity and deeds of kindness.”

She sent her son to get a notebook and a pen. Every day she would tell him to write down the amount of money they had given to charity that day.

Exactly six years later, the Arab came back. This time the man knew it was not really an Arab. He knew that it was Elijah the Prophet in disguise.

“Six years are up,” Elijah said. “The time has come for you to return the money G‑d gave you.”

“First let me tell my wife,” said the man.

His wife said, “You show him our notebook. Let him see how we used the money. Tell him, ‘If there are people who will use the money better, give it to them!’”

Elijah looked at the notebook. “Very good,” he said. “You have used the money well, to buy medicine for the sick, food for the hungry, and clothes for the poor. Surely now G‑d will not take your wealth away, but will increase your fortune and make it even greater.”

And so it was. The man and his wife continued to live in prosperity, doing good deeds and helping others for the rest of their lives.

Courtesy of Tzivos Hashem.
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Deborah UK via July 28, 2016

Inspirational Inspirational and heartwarming reminder. Thank you! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma July 12, 2011

The Golden Notebook This is a beautiful story, and it seems to be "coming up" Elijah in these pieces, as I just responded to another, about the prophet, Elijah.

Tzedakah is G_d's gift to us all, since we must enjoy gifting. Certainly it's a JOY to share and to give to others in despair and need.

We open our doors to Elijah on Passover, and we invite in anyone who would like to partake of this journey, from slavery to freedom. A story for us all!

I think Elijah resides in us all, as in these beautiful stories of giving. It's just a matter of luring hin out into the OPEN, but certainly, he never ever left us. Reply

Miss Kayo Kaneko July 10, 2011

In her beauty he will rejoice Baruch HaShem

Fortunate is a man who has a wife filled with love and awe of HaShem. Reply

Ethics of the Fathers is a tractate of the Mishna that details the Torah's views on ethics and interpersonal relationships. Enjoy insights, audio classes and stories on these fascinating topics.
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