Once upon a time, in a small townlet in Eastern Europe, there lived a poor woodcutter named Chaim. Although he was poor he was held in respect as a good, honest Jew.

He made a very modest living by going into the nearby woods, chopping branches and gathering dry twigs which he brought home in his wheelbarrow. He would then tie the wood into bundles, ready for sale.

His best season was, of course, winter, when his customers needed the wood for heating their homes as well as for cooking purposes. For his winter trips to the woods he used a home made sled which usually served his purpose.

However, in that particular winter there was such a severe snowstorm which continued day after day without let up, that the roads were all piled high with snowdrifts, and Chaim was completely housebound. It was absolutely impossible for him to venture out with his small sled.

So Chaim stayed home, trying not to worry, while his wife Breina worried unceasingly.

"Don't you know that your competitors, the peasants, will now take advantage of your absence and come into town on their big sleds, bringing enough wood to supply your customers with all their needs for the winter?" she cried. "So what can I do about it?" protested poor Chaim.

"You know the situation as well as I. It's just our bad luck. All we can do is hope for the best." "And what about Passover that will soon be upon us?" continued Breina. "We haven't any money even for matza and wine, not to mention fish or meat."

"The Almighty will surely help us to celebrate the wonderful festival of Passover in a worthy manner. He will not forsake us," said Chaim in a confident voice, and returned to his Tehillim. Chaim was no big sage, but he loved to devote all his spare time to his precious Tehillim (Psalms) book .

As Breina continued to fret, he emitted a deep sigh. "Sighing won't conjure up for us matzos and wine; not even potatoes!" she said. "Why don't you do as other poor Jews do before Passover? I'm sure the Gabbai will not refuse you a share in Maos Chittim in which you yourself always contribute every year."

"I know," answered Chaim wearily, shaking his head. His heart felt heavy at the thought of his changed fortune.

True, the sum he gave yearly to the Maot Chittim Fund had not been large, but it was a nice sum considering his modest means. And the fact that he contributed always gave him a good feeling, knowing what a big Mitzvah it was. And now? What now?

"Well Chaim?" Breina cut in on his thoughts. "Why so silent? What about my suggestion?" "I shall not accept charity," replied Chaim firmly. "Really! Then tell me how your stubborn pride is going to provide us with our needs for Passover? Think of our children, if you don't choose to think of yourself or me!

Chaim did not reply immediately. Then he slowly said: "Do you know if there is anything in the house that we can sell or pawn?" Breina burst out in laughter.

"You know full well that we pawned my silver candlesticks long ago, and we sold our pillows and blankets. The only thing left is our poverty, and I hardly think you'll find any ready customers for that!" she ended bitterly, bursting into tears.

Chaim felt so downhearted; he turned for comfort to his Tehillim. Suddenly he realized that his wife was tugging at his sleeve. She had stopped crying and was talking to him in quite a subdued voice.

"You know, Chaim there is something of value we still own. We still have Elijah's silver wine cup. Don't you think you should pawn it so that we can at least buy matza, wine and potatoes?" "Do you know what you are saying?" exclaimed Chaim. "What sort of a Seder could we celebrate worthily without Elijah's goblet?"

"Look Chaim, don't get so excited. Elijah will surely understand and it will not stop him from coming to our house at Seder time as always." "Breina, I cannot do it! Imagine when Elijah comes to us and his wine cup is missing! What will it look like? No, I'll not do this to Elijah. G‑d will show us a way out of our problem. We can depend on Him."

Suddenly a thought struck Chaim. "The goat!" he called out softly, as if afraid the goat might hear. "Breina, listen. Perhaps we should sell our goat?" "Are you out of your mind?" yelled Breina. "The goat is our only means of sustenance! Where else will we get milk for our little ones? Look, Elijah's cup gives us no milk, sell that!"

"Heavens forbid," retorted Chaim, "it's out of the question." The night before Passover Chaim got busy with "Bedikas Chometz." He went through his small abode searching carefully for chometz, though there was little chance he'd find any left.

He then went to the Rav to "sell" his Chometz. "Do you have any flour left? asked the Rav. "No, Rabbi," answered Chaim. "Any cereals?" "No, Rabbi," again replied Chaim. "Any Chometzdige utensils?" "Yes, Rabbi, we have a few pots and pans." The Rabbi then wrote Chaim's name on his list and concluded the "sale" in the required manner.

As Chaim still remained standing, the Rabbi asked him: "Rabbi Chaim, is there something you wish to ask me?" "Yes, Rabbi," said Chaim, shuffling his feet nervously. "I was wondering . . . Can you tell me if the Torah permits one to use milk instead of wine for the 'Arba Kossos' (the four cups of wine) at the Seder?"

The Rabbi looked thoughtful as he slowly began to stroke his silver white beard. So poor Chaim was not only lacking in wine for Passover but apparently he had no meat either, otherwise he would not be talking about using milk at the Seder.

Who knows? Maybe he did not even have fish or matza? And not a word of complaint. Why couldn't he have turned to the Maos Chittim Fund if he was in such great need? The answer is obvious: he was ashamed to ask for charity.

"See here, Reb Chaim," the Rabbi said, as he opened his drawer and began searching for something. "You have given me a hard question to answer, and I have no time right now to look into the matter; it is too close to Yom Tov. Do me a favor and wait until after Passover, by which time I will have had an opportunity to study the problem. Meanwhile, here is some money which I give you on loan. Go and buy wine and whatever else you need for Yom Tov; the money is lying here doing no good over Yom Tov anyway. You'll give it back to me at your convenience. Don't worry; I'm not worried. I know you to be an honest man. Go in peace, I wish you and your wife and family a kosher, joyful Yom Tov!"

Chaim expressed his gratitude to the Rabbi and hurried off to the Matza Bakery which was still open. He bought a plentiful supply of matzos and also managed to buy wine.

With a light heart he rushed home, and as he entered he called out gaily. "Breinale! Good Yom Tov! Look what I've brought!"

"What do you mean `Good Yom Tov'?" his wife asked sleepily, rubbing her eyes as she came towards him. "Yom Tov is tomorrow." "For me it is already Yom Tov, dear wife. Look, we have matza, wine, and money for the herbs and all else we need for fine Sedorim and a wonderful Yom Tov!" Breina thought her husband was either not in his right mind or was day dreaming.

But she opened her eyes wide, and became fully awake as she saw the matza, the wine and the money. This was no dream, but beautiful reality!

"I told you that the Almighty would take care of us and our needs," said Chaim as he told her what had taken place at the Rabbi's house. "You see, Breina, we still have Elijah's silver goblet, we did not have to sell the goat, and still we'll have a regal Seder! We surely have a merciful G‑d in Heaven!"

Chaim, Breina and their children really had a Seder which, in all their lives, they had never enjoyed as much. When Breina went to the door with a candle in her hand to open the door for Elijah she beheld an old Jew standing there. "Good Yom Tov," he said.

At first she was somewhat startled, but his gentle voice and manner reassured her and she invited him in. Chaim recognized him as someone he had seen in Shul that evening; must be a stranger passing through town and "stranded" somehow.

Chaim invited him to join them at the Seder, but the stranger said he could only stay a while as he had already been invited elsewhere. As the guest sat at the table his glance fell admiringly on Elijah's goblet, which Breina had polished until it sparkled and shone. "What a lovely wine cup!" he said.

"May your Mazal shine and sparkle like this goblet!" After chatting with Chaim for a little while longer, he got up, excused himself and left. The following day Chaim looked in Shul for the stranger. He wanted to invite him to join him for the second Seder.

When he could not see him anywhere he began to ask if anyone had seen the venerable stranger, but all looked at Chaim wonderingly. "What stranger? There's been no stranger here!"

"What do you mean? I had this man, with the face of an angel, at my Seder table." Chaim turned to the Rav. "Tell me Rabbi, did you see the stranger?" "Surely," answered the Rabbi. "He visited me too. In fact he visits every Jewish home at the Seder, but not everyone has the merit to see him. You, obviously are worthy."

After Passover, the snow long forgotten, Chaim again took his wheelbarrow and went into the woods to gather wood and twigs. He filled the wheelbarrow and set off for home. But the load must have been heavier than usual for the wheels got stuck in the soft soil and refused to budge.

Chaim tugged and pushed; all to no avail. Reluctantly he began to throw away some of the wood he had gathered, to lighten the load. He gave a sudden push and out shot the wheels!

Say, what was that thing shining there? He bent down and, to and behold, a shining golden coin met his astonished gaze!

He quickly began digging in the same spot, and out came a rotting bag, spilling out its contents a whole lot of lovely, glittering golden coins! A veritable fortune!

From that time on, no more was Chaim "poor Chaim," but his Mazal shone for him and his family, as did Elijah's precious goblet at their Seder table.