About two hundred years ago lived a very righteous tzaddik called Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz. In addition to having mastered all the works of the great rabbis of all generations, including the mystical, he was a dedicated practitioner of the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity).

His custom was that every morning he would return home from prayer, put down his tallit and tefillin, and immediately leave his home once again going from door to door collecting money for the needy. Only after distributing it to the poor people that gathered each day at his house would he sit and have something to eat. It wasn't easy work, the rich didn't easily part with their money and the less rich didn't have much to part with, but he was happy that he could serve G‑d through this all-important commandment.

One day, after Rabbi Naftali finished his rounds, handed out the money, and was just about to wash his hands to eat, he heard someone knock. He turned around and saw that there was another poor man that had pushed the door open a crack and was peeking through. The Rabbi went to the door, opened it and said, "I'm sorry, you'll have to return tomorrow, my friend, I've got a lot of Torah learning to do today, and I've just handed out all the money." But the sad look on the poor man's face made him put down his towel and set out to collect money again.

However this time he really had problems. At each door he got an angry stare and sometimes a few words to boot: "What, all day you just wander around collecting money? You were just here, did you forget? Tell me, are you going to other houses or just to me?" He collected only a fraction of what he usually got but he happily returned home, gave the grateful man the money bade him good day, and again took the towel and went to the sink to wash for bread.

But just as he was about to pour the water on his hand he heard the unmistakable sound of someone standing behind him loudly clearing his throat.

He turned around and there was yet another man who had let himself in, "I know, Rabbi, I know. I came late, right? Well, I know you are busy; I don't want to bother you, G‑d forbid Rabbi. No, no, I'll come back tomorrow. I only want someone to tell my problems to. I won't take long. I promise." The Rabbi nodded. "My wife is not in good shape, the doctors say that soon her life will be in danger. My daughter is getting older and I have no money for her wedding. And finally my entire house fell in yesterday," At this point the man began weeping and Rav Naftali again put down the towel, told the man to sit down, put on his coat and went again collecting.

But this time it was completely different. When the homeowner answered the first door (for the third time that day), instead of cursing Rav Naftali, he greeted him with a smile and open arms. "I'm so sorry that I gave you that bitter look before." He apologized, "Now I see that you must be a real tzaddik if you are willing to visit me again after what I did to you, you must think only of the poor and not of yourself at all! And instead of giving the usual ruble I'm giving you ten rubles!" So it was at the next house and all the houses thereafter. But this time when Rabbi Naftali arrived home he wasn't so happy. He gave the man the money and said with a bit of a frown, "Listen, my friend, the money is yours, I'm not going to take it back, I promise. But tell me the truth. You were lying weren't you? Your wife isn't sick and that story about your daughter and your house falling in, it's not true either, is it?"

The poor man hemmed and hawed and finally answered sheepishly. "Well, I wasn't exactly lying, Rabbi, maybe I exaggerated a little, but not lying. I mean my wife is pregnant and it says in the law books that when a woman goes to give birth her life is in danger and you can even break the Shabbat." "What about your daughter's wedding?" "Well, it's true that now she is only five years old, but I always say, why wait till the last minute, you never know what may happen, right Rabbi? And about my house: well, to tell you the truth, not exactly the entire house collapsed. But my rocking chair that I found in the garbage last month broke completely, which made me feel just terrible!"

Then the visitor thought for a second and added, "Tell me Rabbi, How did you know? How did you know I wasn't telling the truth, and if you knew, then why did you go collecting for me?"

Rabbi Naftali answered simply: "Every time I go collecting money it is always with difficultly because there is always some obstacle to holiness. But this time, when I collected for you everything went so easy, in fact too easy. I thought to myself: Something is wrong here, somehow or other I must not be doing a true mitzvah..."