Shraga was a simple wagon-driver. He eked out a meager living by taking people from one town to another. When the weather was nice, his two horses were trotting along without mishap, and he had a customer, it was easy for him to be happy. If not, Shraga would look for something to be happy about.

But today he was miserable.

It all started about six months earlier, in the beginning of the winter. When he had set out that morning, the sky was clear and the cool autumn air was fresh and crisp; but when he was about an hour from home the temperature suddenly dropped, clouds blackened the sky, and in no time the pouring rain and freezing winds cut through his clothes and made it almost impossible to move.

He whipped the horses. He was freezing and drenched to the bone. It looked like it would rain forever, and the horses were barely making progress. In a few hours it would be night. Who knows if he would make it home alive?

Then, suddenly, through the wind and rain he noticed someone standing at the side of the road up to his ankles in mud, waving furiously and trying to shout through the howling wind. He stopped and yelled to the man to get in the wagon.

It was a Jew! What was he doing on the road in the middle of nowhere? They huddled together, and two hours later they had miraculously reached Shraga’s home, put on dry clothes, and were sitting by the stove sipping hot soup.

The traveler turned out to be none other than the famous Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov, the holy Sassover Rebbe. He too had set off in the morning to visit his elderly parents and got caught in the storm.

“Well,” the rebbe said, “now that you saved my life, I want to give you a blessing of riches and fame. What do you own? Do you have anything of value?”

“Riches? Blessing? Thank you, Rabbi! Wow! Thank you!! Err, anything of value? Not much,” Shraga shrugged his shoulders. “Except for, maybe, my horses. I mean, no one would buy my wagon or my house or anything else. I guess the only things worth anything are my horses.”

Nu,” answered the rebbe matter-of-factly, “one will be for Purim and one for Passover. Now I must be gone. Thank you again and G‑d bless you!”

He shook Shraga’s hand and left, closing the door behind him and leaving poor Shraga more confused than happy. “Wonder what he meant by that?” he said to his wife.

A few months later, just before Purim, one of Shraga’s horses suddenly died. Well, dead is dead, and the only thing left to do was to sell the meat to the local gentile butcher and the hide to the tanner, leaving the wagon-driver with enough money to celebrate the holiday in style and even to invite a few guests.

Then, a week before Passover, another tragedy struck—the second horse died as well! Again Shraga had no choice but to mournfully sell its carcass, which yielded enough money to prepare a Passover holiday fit for a king. Now he understood what the Rebbe meant . . . “One for Purim and one for Passover.” But he wished the Rebbe hadn’t said it. The holidays were wonderful, but now he was left with no horses and no source of income. What would he do?

He asked around in the streets and in the synagogue if anyone knew how he could make a few kopeks to feed his family—with no luck. There was simply no work.

But Shraga did not lose hope. He talked it over with his wife and decided to take to the road. G‑d would certainly help. One thing for sure, he would starve sitting at home. He packed his tallit and tefillin, a loaf of bread and a change of clothes, and set off early the next morning to wherever his feet would carry him.

A few days later he was in an inn resting his weary bones, when he heard two fellows sitting in the corner talking in loud tones.

“What are we going to do?” said one of them, slapping the table in frustration. “Every manager we bring, he fires. The man is insane! This makes the fifth manager in two months. Next thing we’ll be out in the street. What are we going to do?” The other fellow just kept letting out moans and grunts, shrugging his shoulders and throwing up his hands in despair.

Shraga immediately stood up and walked over to them. “Excuse me. I just came in from the road and, well, I couldn’t help overhearing what you were saying. What type of manager are you looking for?”

The two men looked at Shraga, then at one another in disbelief, and one of them answered.

“The poritz (noble landowner) needs a manager for his lands,” the first man said. “We are two of his tenants,” the other interrupted, and then the first one resumed: “He owns all the farmland in these parts, and for some reason, he assigned us the task of finding him a manager. Were you ever a manager . . . that is . . . could you do such a thing?”

Shraga agreed, they took him to meet the poritz, and for some reason, the cruel maniac took a liking to him and gave him the job immediately.

Shraga succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He seemed to always be making the right decisions and saying the right things at the right time. And most importantly, the poritz loved him! The landowner kept on transferring to him more and more responsibility over his affairs, until our horseless wagon-driver became a wealthy and influential benefactor, providing a livelihood for hundreds of families in the area and helping many of his needy brethren. Even the poritz became more charitable and easygoing.