In a small town in the Old Country there once lived a Jewish merchant who had a reputation for being a lucky man. Whatever business deal he undertook, it always resulted in a profit for him. Sometimes the profit was big, sometimes not so big, but never did it result in a loss; if it ever did, no one knew about it. Little by little he became quite a rich man.

To his credit it must be told that he had a good heart. Whoever needed a loan, or other financial help, knew they could turn to this merchant for help, and it was always given with a friendly smile. His house was always open to poor people and wayfarers passing through the town. Whoever entered his house hungry left feeling sated and grateful.

But he had one bad fault. He often bragged about his cleverness in business, claiming that his success was due to his "good business head."

"You have to have a feeling, a 'hunch' for business," he would say.

He loved to boast about his success, and always took the credit to himself, never giving a little credit to Hashem by adding Boruch Hashem ("thank G‑d"), Im Yirtzeh Hashem ("please G‑d"), and the like. To be sure, he never missed his prayers, including King David's Blessing, in which it is said, "Riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all; in Your hand are might and power, and it is in Your hand to grant greatness and strength to all," but evidently he did not give much thought to these words. Neither did he ever fail to say Grace After Meals, blessing Hashem"Who in His goodness, grace, kindness and mercy feeds the whole world." But these words, too, made little impression on him. Had he been listening to what he was saying, he would have realized that it is G‑ds blessing, not ones cleverness, that makes one rich. And if he would delve more deeply into the matter, would he not himself understand that this special feeling, or hunch, about which he boasted was also a gift from G‑d?

So a tumult arose in Heaven about this boastful merchant. The angels set up a hue and cry against the ungrateful individual who was constantly patting himself on the back for being so smart, and never thinking of mentioning G‑ds Name by way of thanking Him for His help in all his successes.

A suggestion was made that all his success should be taken away from him; then maybe he would begin to understand that he was not so smart after all.

But hearing this, a whole group of angels (created by all the good deeds of the Jewish merchant) hurried forward and began to plead, saying: "How can one take away the livelihood of such a fine Jew!"

So it was decided in Heaven that an opportunity would be given to the merchant to teach him to conduct himself in a proper and better manner. If successful, all to the good, but if not, then he would receive his just punishment.

The next time the merchant set out to do business, he saw an old Jew on the way, walking with difficult, faltering steps. The merchant stopped and gave the old Jew a lift, helping him get into his buggy.

The old Jew thanked the merchant and asked him where he was going. The merchant answered that he was on his way to a fair to buy merchandise.

"I suppose you have recited the Prayer for a Journey," the old Jew remarked.

"Its only a short distance away," the merchant said, in a tone of apology or excuse. "I have a good horse and buggy we should soon be there, in about an hour or so what could go wrong?"

"A Jew should add the words, G‑d Willing," said the old man.

"Sure, sure, but what is there to worry about?" said the merchant.

They rode along for a while without further talk, when bang! a wheel broke, breaking the silence as well.

The merchant climbed down from the buggy to inspect the damage and to see what could be done.

"I see I wont manage to get to the market in time today," he said grumpily. Then he took his disappointment out on the old man: "You are a real shlimazel! I cant take you any further and so you have to get out. If you happen to meet someone who might be able to fix the buggy, please send him to me."

The old man slowly got out of the buggy, began to walk but stopped, and said to the merchant, "Forgive an old man for taking upon himself the privilege of giving advice, but when a Jew sets out on a journey, he should recite the prayer for a safe and successful journey, and not depend on his horse and buggy! And don't forget to add: If G‑d Wills. " He then disappeared.

The following week, the merchant set out on foot, and saw the old man sitting by the side of the road. They greeted each other warmly, like old friends. The merchant sat down beside the old man, who asked him: "How are you?"

"As you see, I'm fine. No need to complain," he replied.

"Boruch Hashem," said the old man pointedly. "So did you manage to get to the fair in time last week?"

"No, I didn't, but I have taken with me now double the amount of money, so Ill be able to do enough business to make up for last weeks loss," said the merchant in a confident tone.

"With G‑ds help," added the old man. "A Jew must never forget that. Forgive me for saying so."

"Sure, sure. By why doubt it? The money is in my pocket and, as I have told you, I think I have an instinct for these things."

They sat chatting a little while longer. Then the merchant got up and went on his way, not noticing that the fat purse with his money had fallen out of his pocket.

The old man picked up the purse and walked deep into the forest, where he hid it in a safe place.

Meanwhile, the merchant arrived at the fair and got busy buying much merchandise. But when it came to paying for his purchases, he found, to his horror, that his purse and money had vanished.

It suddenly dawned on him that the words of the old Jew at their two meetings made sense. He now realized that one cannot put ones faith in a horse and buggy, nor can one depend on ones own wisdom and instinct, but only on G‑d alone.

The merchant decided that from now on he would be careful to say "if G‑d wills," and "with G‑ds Help," and "thank G‑d," as a Jew should.

The third week, the merchant again set off to the fair. He saw a youth on the way and offered him a lift in his buggy.

"I suppose you are going to the fair," the boy said.

"Yes, I am. And I hope, with G‑ds help, to buy a couple of oxen to plow my field," said the merchant.

"May the Almighty bless you with success," said the boy, and added, "I suppose you will need someone to help you drive the oxen to your place. I would be glad to offer my services."

"First of all, let us hope that, with G‑ds help, I will manage to buy the oxen. Then we shall, please G‑d, be able to talk about using your help, which I would welcome."

The Almighty did help, and the merchant managed to buy a pair of fine oxen, a real bargain. He tied the oxen to the buggy with some strong cord and got into the buggy, while the boy followed and with a long branch of a tree guided the oxen along from time to time.

In the middle of the ride, one of the oxen suddenly broke away from the buggy and dashed off in a wild rush into the depths of the forest.

"You stay here," called out the merchant to the boy, springing down from the buggy and running after the runaway ox.

Deeper and ever deeper into the forest ran the ox, with the merchant after him.

Suddenly the ox stopped, as if waiting for his new master. The merchant hurried forward, took hold of the rope and tried to drag the ox back to the buggy. The merchant happened to look down and saw a sight which filled him with joy. His gaze had fallen upon something which he had given up as lost forever. Yes, it was his money-packed purse, which he had taken along to buy merchandise at the previous weeks fair.

"Thank G‑d," called out the happy merchant, which seemed to prompt the ox to submit to his new master, whom he followed peacefully and without difficulty.

When the merchant reached the place where he had left the buggy, he found everything as he had left it, except that there was no sign of the boy. The merchant called out for him in a loud voice, but no one answered.

The merchant tied the ox to the buggy, got into the buggy and set off for home, the oxen following quietly.

The merchant stopped a few times, calling out for the boy, but no answer came. The boy had mysteriously disappeared.

"The only possible explanation is that it was Eliyahu the Prophet who visited me, first in the guise of an old man, and then as a young man," the merchant decided, and thanked the Almighty for having sent him such a good teacher to teach him how a Jew should think and speak.