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A Coin

A Coin


Chassidic master Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rymanov (c.1755-1815) was a very special person, an ascetic who was known for his tremendous awe of G‑d, his modesty and his passionate prayers, and people came to see him because he was considered a miracle worker as well.

Despite all his accomplishments, the Rymanover Rebbe did not have money and he didn't care for money either. He was actually so poor that he often could not feed his children.

There is a beautiful story about how he came home one day and found his little son crying, for the poor boy had not eaten in a long time. "I can't bear being hungry anymore!" sobbed the child. With a bleeding heart his father rebuked him: "If your hunger was really as great as you say, G‑d would provide something..."

The boy could not stop crying and he left the room in tears. After a moment his father called him back and said to him: "Please forgive me, my sweet child! I had no idea that your hunger was so overwhelming. I just took one of my books off the table and look what I found next to it—a coin. You see, G‑d always helps when it is needed most. Now go and buy some bread and make a blessing..."

We often think we that can't hold out any longer, be it hunger, grief or some other test, but G‑d is knows what we truly need and at the right moment—which He alone knows—He gives. So trust Him and Him alone.

Text and image by chassidic artist Shoshannah Brombacher. To view or purchase Ms. Brombacher's art, click here.
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Anonymous CT via February 29, 2016

The author commented that "several tzaddikim from the old stories had few 'marketable skills' and could not easily find a well paying job in their shtetl economy, not even as a teacher or Rabbi, or they lacked the insight or personality to find a 'good job'."

The issue is not about finding a 'good job' or a 'well paying job' (much less about doing so 'easily'). If the father had really been a modest and humble person, as alleged in the story, he would not have considered it beneath his dignity to eke out a living for his family by engaging in some meagerly remunerative, unskilled pursuit -- as many of his fellow Jews in the shtetl did, and as scores of millions or hundreds of millions of people around the world still do today. Reply

Anonymous new Brunswick February 27, 2016

And they lived happily ever after....

All we need are neglectful father's with Disney endings.

For some reason I doubt true righteous people are oblivious to their children. Reply

Anonymous Ireland July 21, 2015

A Coin story I understand the Rabbi was learned etc, but not to have enough awareness (given by Hashem) to understand that children need food regularly, is just neglectful. When they got married and had children, the first thing in Jewish law is looking after the family. Study second, Shalom Beit etc, etc. Reply

Felipe Brazil February 13, 2014

superb history Reply

Anonymous via November 11, 2006

I am struggling right now about what is right and what is wrong in this life, and this story seems to simplify my struggle so that I know what to do, thus this story was very meaningful for me to read. I think for me it is a question of WHO decides what it is I need - me, or G-d, and my ego gets in the way - I think I need things that I know I really don't need, and the bottom line is that I am just too lonely, and I think that "stuff" will suffice, when the truth is that G-d filling up my heart should be all that I "need," in addition to the basics of shelter, clothing, heat, and food. Reply

lightning Dallas, TX November 9, 2006

coin Loved it! I cried. Reply

Shoshannah Brombacher Brooklyn, NY November 8, 2006

A coin Dear Readers, I found this a difficult story too. Of course you can't just sit back and wait till G-d provides, you have to do something too. I am convinced that the Rymanover cared very much whether his children had to eat and he davened (prayed) for that, but several tzaddikim from the old stories had few 'marketable skills' and could not easily find a well paying job in their shtetl economy, not even as a teacher or Rabbi, or they lacked the insight or personality to find a 'good job'. Sometimes their wives had stores, they got gifts, and some were just simply not practical in money matters or had bad health and bad luck.

I feel in this story the pain of the Rymanover, he is not cruel to his son! It stresses the importance of trust in G-d even in the bleakest circumstances. And it makes clear that we have to do our best to pray AND to look for a job or source of income for our family...

May G-d help us all to be succesful when we try. Keep davening! Reply

B. R. November 5, 2006

You guys don't get it... As evidenced by many of the comments, the subtleties of this classic chassidic story are several storeys above the heads of the commentors. Mayhaps the editors of this site are overjudging the sophistication of their readership? Reply

Anonymous Montreal, Canada November 4, 2006

How depressing! What are we to take from such a sad story? How about something a little more uplifting... Reply

bluma overland park, ks via November 4, 2006

The above story describes the person as an ascetic and great tzadik. It is sometimes difficult for us in our physical state to understand what this means. Taking the above into context, we may be able to better appreciate this story. Perhaps the lesson the father was teaching his son was that G-d watches over us and gives us our true needs. Indeed because of his great level, he was shown from Above that the child's tears were true. How great a man he was can be seen from the fact that he immediately experienced G-d's benevolence. Reply

nrfboston via November 3, 2006

He didn't bother to earn a living to provide food for his family, because he "didn't care for" money??!! That is not a "very special person", that is a selfish and irresponsible man! Reply

Anonymous via November 3, 2006

The Coin During W W II, a popular song was "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." If our soldiers and sailors had waited for the Lord to provide, the Nazi's may have won and we would all be ashes now. Reply

Anonymous Milwaukee, WI via November 2, 2006

Beautiful This is just what I needed to hear right now. Thank you! Reply

Anonymous Miami, FL November 2, 2006

Confusion...... I enjoyed reading the above story of the Rymanover Rebbe (of blessed memory), though I am a bit confused. Aren't we supposed to put in effort to attain what we need? I know that ultimately G-D is the SOLE provider, but aren't we supposed to put our "hishtaldut" (effort)? So why is it that the Rymanover Rebbe was so harsh with his son? Wasn't he supposed to make an effort to feed his family? Also, HOW MUCH effort is needed? I have always been very confused about this. Reply

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