In the city of Chernobyl lived Reb Mordechai Twerski (1770–1837), who was affectionately known as Reb Mottele of Chernobyl. He was a saintly man, and many disciples would come to visit him for direction and insight.

After spending an uplifting Shabbat in the presence of Reb Mottele, a group of disciples were traveling back to their hometowns on Sunday and recounting their experiences. The rebbe’s happy countenance, the profound and inspiring Torah insights and the usual large crowd all contributed to the great camaraderie and the uplifting vibe that were felt by all. The consensus was that this was the most uplifting experience they had ever had.

Among the travelers was an unlettered simple merchant. Whenever someone said it was an amazing Shabbat, he interjected, “Indeed, I do not remember a Shabbat like this one.”

At first, they smiled contemptuously at his interjections, as they thought that he was being facetious. But as he continued praising the Shabbat, their curiosity was awakened, and they finally asked him, “What did you find that was particularly special about this week that you did not see in the past?”

The merchant began to recount: “During my farewell audience with our rebbe, he began to ask me about my day. I told him that I rise early and set out to the next village to buy merchandise from the farmers. When I finish my business and return home, I recite the morning blessings and then pray.

“The rebbe told me: ‘It is not appropriate to work before praying.’

“‘But if I pray before going to the farmers, I will not meet anyone, as the farmers leave to their fields early,’ I replied.

“The rebbe listened to me attentively, and I was confident that he accepted my argument. But after a few reflective moments, the rebbe said that he’d like to tell me a story.

“‘There was a young man who was a beneficiary of his in-laws’ generosity, and they sustained him for some years after his wedding. As his family grew, he needed to become self-sufficient and support his family, so he became a traveling tutor. He’d come to a town and teach Torah to the local children for an extended period. The young man slowly accumulated a small fortune of twelve gold coins and one copper coin. He began his trip back home with hopes of using the money to start a business.

“‘One Friday afternoon he realized that he would not reach home in time for Shabbat, and needed to stop and lodge in an unfamiliar inn. The problem was that he could not carry his fortune around with him on Shabbat, as it is muktzeh. Leaving it in his room unguarded was not a safe option either. Entrusting it to the owner was risky, too, as he did not know if he could trust him.

“‘As Shabbat approached, he made the heart-wrenching decision to entrust his money to the innkeeper. The entire Shabbat, he worried if he would see his small fortune again.

“‘After Shabbat concluded, the innkeeper returned the purse, and a stone was lifted off this man’s heart. He began counting his coins, and all twelve gold coins were there. As he started to look for the copper one, the innkeeper asked: “What is that you are looking for?” The guest replied: “I am looking for my copper coin.”’

“With this, the rebbe concluded his story,” the merchant continued. “There was a long silence, as I understood the rebbe was hinting something, but I did not understand what. The rebbe smiled lovingly at me and said: ‘Look at the foolishness of the young man. He received all his gold coins, yet continued to suspect the innkeeper of not returning the lone copper coin!’

“I smiled. But the rebbe looked at me and said, ‘You are like the foolish young man. Every night you entrust your precious soul, the gold coins, to G‑d Almighty, and you lay down to sleep. Upon waking, you see G‑d is trustworthy, and He returned your precious soul back to you. Are you apprehensive that He will not return the copper coin, your livelihood, as well, if you tend to it after prayer?!’

“After hearing these words, I made a firm resolution not to tend to my business before prayer,” the merchant concluded.

The other disciples agreed, “Indeed, your benefit from this Shabbat is ten times ours!”

(Translated and adapted from Sichat Hashavua #549)