The future of the Jewish nation hung in the balance, and the Tzemach Tzedek—along with two other rabbis—traveled to the Russian capital of S. Petersburg, where they advocated on their nation’s behalf. During the course of the trip, a Chassid of Polish descent helped the Rebbe with a certain matter. The Tzemach Tzedek didn’t know this man and wasn’t aware who had assisted him, but the fact was that the Chassid had used his wealth and familiarity with relevant government officers to help sway things behind the scenes.

One day, the man showed up in the Rebbe’s study and introduced himself. The Rebbe expressed his thanks.

“Is there something I can bless you with?” asked the Rebbe.

“Thank G‑d,” smiled the man, “I have everything I could ask for. “I have everything I could ask for. Children, wealth and honor..." Children, wealth and honor. There has been this one question, however, that has been bothering me. The idea of Divine intervention. It’s written that G‑d directs every single thing—whether it seems significant to us or not. Also, everything that has happened has a special purpose from Above. I just cannot understand this.”

The Rebbe expounded upon the idea brilliantly. Though the man was clearly able to grasp the subtle ideas explained, he was not satisfied. “I still don’t understand,” he sighed.

The Rebbe gestured to the Chassid to come over to the window.

“Look outside. You see this wagon loaded with straw rolling down the road? Walking behind it is a Jew, and he had just found a piece of straw to pick his teeth. Something stuck there prevented him from praying with the proper concentration, and now he can pray in peace. He doesn’t want you to know this, but he is one of the 36 hidden righteous people upon whom the entire world depends. This entire village, the man sitting in the wagon and the very wagon bearing the straw—everything was created for this righteous man. For what? So he can pray comfortably. That is Divine intervention.”

When the Rebbe finished, the Chassid said, “Now I understand what it is all about.”

Adapted from Shemuot Vesippurim Vol. 1, page 49

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