[The following words were addressed to a well-known and G‑d-fearing communal activist and philanthropist who had recently been elected chairman of a forthcoming public meeting for the benefit of the Fund for the Ransom of Captives.1 He had come to visit the Rebbe, under whose auspices this Fund was conducted.]

1. I was happy to hear that you have been elected chairman of the praiseworthy Ransom Fund – firstly, as is well known, because all your tzedakah-initiatives support vital projects, and always, including no doubt this time, too, they are blessed with success. Since you personally donate with an open heart and a generous hand, those around you respond to your call with an open hand.

2. The second reason reminded me of a certain story about the Baal Shem Tov.

A certain Jew once poured out his anguished heart, wept bitterly, and begged the tzaddik to pray and intercede on his behalf. I don’t know what caused his distress – a medical question, or childlessness, or whatever.

3. Now, the Baal Shem Tov loved every fellow Jew to the point of self-sacrifice, so he was pained by this man’s distress. However, he saw Above that he would not be able to help him.

4. So he took down a Gemara from the bookcase and opened it, and on the page that presented itself he read:2 “Whoever received a mere copper coin from Iyov3 would be blessed” – because Iyov’s endeavors in tzedakah were granted success.

5. From the fact that by Divine Providence4 this particular volume opened up at this particular place, the Baal Shem Tov understood that it was through that teaching that this poor fellow was no doubt going to find relief from his suffering.

6. He meditated deeply on the question: What was Heaven’s message? – until eventually the answer dawned on him.

7. In Brody at that time there lived a scholarly and charitable individual called R. Shabsai Meir. His only requests of G‑d were that his charitable endeavors be blessed with success – that he should give his donations wholeheartedly, and that they should bring their recipients relief.

Despite the growing prosperity with which he was blessed, he barely renovated his house, but left it more or less as it was when he was an ordinary householder. By contrast, his contributions to tzedakah, many of which were given anonymously, constantly grew. His above request remained unchanged, and the Heavenly Court ruled that he deserved to have it fulfilled by G‑d.

After the Baal Shem Tov recalled R. Shabsai Meir, he clearly understood that it was from Heaven that he had been prompted to take down a Gemara, and it was the work of Heaven that he should open up this particular volume and light upon this particular passage – all in order that he should recall R. Shabsai Meir. And since the Baal Shem Tov knew what the Heavenly Court had ruled, it was now clear to him that it was through R. Shabsai Meir that this suffering Jew before him would find relief from his woes.

The Baal Shem Tov therefore advised him to travel to Brod, where the hospitable R. Shabsai Meir would no doubt invite him for Shabbos. Then, when thanking his host before leaving Brod, he should also request his blessing that he should be helped from Above by virtue of his host’s charitability.

In Brod, the new arrival found that he was one of many guests at the table, all of whom were served generous helpings of the finest delicacies. On Sunday, before he left, he did exactly as he had been instructed by the Baal Shem Tov. His host’s wholehearted blessing was accepted Above, and the guest was relieved of his suffering.