Rabbi Chaim of Sanz never turned away anyone in need, but when Shmuel needed to marry off his daughter, the tzadik just looked at him and refused to give him a penny. "I will give you some advice," said the Rebbe, "and I will provide you with a letter of introduction to a person in Vienna named Nachum ben Yosef.

Don't take even one penny less than that amount.

You must get from him 500 gold rubles. Just remember one thing: Don't take even one penny less than that amount."

"But Vienna is a great city; how will I be able to find this person?" asked a stunned Shmuel.

"Don't worry. Just go into one of the shuls. There you will meet a man who will take you to him for five silver coins," replied the Rebbe.

The poor man soon found himself outside of the Rebbe's room, perplexed at his situation. The way to Vienna was very far; his pathetic old horse would never make it. He sat down on a bench and thought for a while. He decided to sell the horse and proceeded on the journey.

When Shmuel finally arrived in Vienna there were many shuls. He entered the first one and went up to the caretaker.

"Perhaps you know a person named Nachum ben Yosef?" Shmuel was afraid the man would laugh at him, but instead, he replied, "Yes, I know him and I'll lead you to him for five silver coins."

The traveler was thrilled with his good fortune. He gave the man the silver coins and a short time later they were standing in front of Nachum's house. Shmuel knocked on the door and a distinguished-looking gentleman invited him inside. Shmuel handed him the letter from the Rebbe.

"I don't understand why the Rebbe thinks I should give you such a tremendous sum of money. I will be happy to give you one or two rubles, but five hundred is out of the question."

"No," protested Shmuel, "The Rebbe told me that I am not to accept even a penny less than the entire sum, and I am following his instructions!"

"All right, I'll give you fifty rubles, but that's it."

"You don't understand. The Rebbe told me I have to get the entire five hundred, and I must do exactly as he told me!"

This continued for another half hour or so, with the gentleman offering a bit more, and Shmuel flatly refusing to budge. Finally, the Viennese gentleman was so frustrated he didn't know what to do. He wanted to honor the Rebbe's request, but five hundred rubles was a fortune! He decided to ask his wife's opinion on the matter.

After reading the letter from the Rebbe the woman said, "Please give him all the money he requests, and I will explain everything to you.

...none of the rabbis would agree to officiate because no one knew the groom.

"Do you remember our trip to Budapest? When we were there, the Rebbe was also visiting. A wedding was about to take place, but none of the rabbis would agree to officiate because no one knew the groom. The bridal party was in a tizzy, not knowing what to do, when word was brought to them that the Rebbe himself would come.

"Finally the Rebbe arrived. He stood to the side, deep in thought, and suddenly asked that the bride's parents be brought to him.

'Tell me,' he asked, 'Did you ever have other children?'

'We had a little boy who drowned many years ago,' replied the father.

'Would you tell me how it happened?' asked the Rebbe.

'One day, we went on an outing to the countryside. The children went bathing in the river, and our son disappeared under the water. We ran, but by the time we came, there was no trace of him.'

'Do you remember if he had any particular distinguishing mark on his body?' asked the Rebbe.

'Yes,' answered the mother, 'He had a deep scar on his knee where he had once fallen on a tree trunk.'

"The Rebbe called over the bridegroom and asked him to roll up his trousers. Sure enough, there was the exact mark the mother had described. The parents fell on their son's neck with tears pouring down their cheeks. With the power of his holy vision, the Rebbe saved the brother and sister from a terrible transgression. Word of this miracle spread from town to town, and people flocked to see this tzadik with their own eyes.

"I was present at the time, and I also went to the tzadik. I offered to give him a large sum of money to distribute to the needy. At the time, I didn't understand his reply, for he refused to accept any money from me. He said that one day, one of his Chasidim would come and I could 'pay him back' then. That is why I am asking you to give this man the entire sum of money that the tzadik requests from you."

Her husband took the sum of money from a drawer and presented it to the Chasid with a wholehearted blessing.

[Editor’s note: The L’Chaim version has one more paragraph:
When the Chasid left, the woman turned to her husband and said, "There is one more thing I didn't tell you. The bridegroom in the story is none other than our own son-in- law, the husband of our daughter!"]

Connection to Weekly Reading: the prohibition to marry one's sibling

Adapted from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#367), with permission.

Biographical notes:
Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz [1793 - 25 Nissan 1876] was the first Rebbe of the Sanz-Klausenberg dynasty. He is famous for his extraordinary dedication to the mitzvah of tzedaka and also as a renowned Torah scholar; his voluminous and wide-ranging writings were all published under the title Divrei Chaim.

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