The eighteenth century was a difficult time to be a Jew in Eastern Europe. Once, in an attempt to avoid corrupt border officials, a Jewish man hired agents to smuggle nearly 200 wagonloads of wine across the Russian countryside. He had invested much money in this risky endeavor, and anticipated the day when he would hear of the wagons’ safe arrival.

One day, the man, who counted himself among the adherents of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the Alter Rebbe), was notified, like a bolt of lightning on a sunny day, that his 200 wagons had been caught and seized by the Russian authorities. Overcome by grief, the poor man barely managed to process the news before he passed out. Even worse, he could not be shaken awake. Whenever one of the people with him succeeded in reviving him, the man simply slumped back into a faint. This scenario repeated itself numerous times.

His plight was eventually brought before the Alter Rebbe, whose answer was puzzling but final: the wagons had not been seized.

The remark spurred a hunt for the missing wagons, and they were discovered, safe and sound. According to the drivers, during their flight across the Russian countryside, the sound of a carriage fitted with a bell led them to believe that they were being chased by the authorities. Concerned for their lives, the wagon drivers abandoned the caravan and fled on foot. As a result, the long entourage of horses tied to wagons clogged the road. Various passersby could not help but notice this and guided the horses to the side of the road, where they were tied up. The horses and their precious merchandise stood by the side of the road until, eventually, the drivers returned and brought the merchandise to the relieved owner.

After this was all cleared up, the chassidim approached the Alter Rebbe again with a different question: How is it possible that someone who claims not to perform miracles is caught blatantly doing just that? How did the Rebbe know that the goods had not been requisitioned?

The Alter Rebbe waved the question off, explaining, “It was never a miracle. My answer was based on the teaching of our sages that G‑d only sends a person suffering that he is capable of withstanding. When I heard that the man was unable to rouse due to constant fainting, it was obvious to me that 200 seized wagonloads of wine is not a challenge that G‑d would send him. Such hardship was too much for him to confront.”

Note: This story (adapted from Shemuot Vesippurim, vol. I, page 32-a) is not meant to justify another's suffering, just to provide us with perspective as we go through our own challenges.