The rabbi of Krakow, Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (1560-1640), known as “the Bach,”1 had a wealthy disciple whom the Bach taught to be generous with the gifts G‑d had bestowed upon him.

One day, an innkeeper complained to the Bach that someone was trying to wrest the lease of his inn for himself, offering the landowner larger sums of money. If he succeeded, the innkeeper’s livelihood would be decimated.

The Bach called for his wealthy student and shared the innkeeper’s plight. The disciple knew the landowner, and agreed to intercede to ensure he would not lease the inn to anyone else. First, however, he had to travel to the grand fair in Leipzig. Afterwards, he would head to the innkeeper’s town and attend to the matter.

The innkeeper begged him to take care of his matter first. He worried that by the time the merchant returned, he would have already lost his home and his source of income.

The wealthy man sat the distraught innkeeper down, and told him that he had to bolster his faith. “You don’t need to help G‑d with your calculations,” he said. “G‑d will take care of you. Have no fear.”

When the innkeeper came home and told his wife the plan, she was completely distraught and berated her husband for letting the man delay his assistance.

In the end, however, it all turned out for the best. When the wealthy man returned from the fair, he traveled to the innkeeper’s town, spoke to the landowner, arranged for the innkeeper to retain his lease, and elicited a guarantee that the landowner would not lease the inn to anyone else for the coming ten years.

The innkeeper and his wife were relieved, overjoyed, and immensely grateful.

Many years later, the wealthy disciple passed away, predeceasing his teacher. He appeared to the Bach in a dream, and said that he wished to convey what had happened to him when he arrived in Heaven:

“After my case was heard by the Heavenly Court, I was thankfully judged favorably, and brought into Gan Eden. The aroma of Gan Eden was like nothing I had ever smelled, and all I felt was goodness.

“Suddenly, I saw an angel walking toward me. It blocked my way forward, and began to drag me back out of Gan Eden!

“I asked: ‘Who are you? And why are you taking me out of this wonderful place?’

“He said: ‘I am the angel created by your mitzvah of saving the innkeeper and his family from financial ruin. But you have no idea how many tears, how much heartbreak, and the amount of marital strife you caused by delaying your help until you got back from the fair.’

“The angel brought me back to the Heavenly Court, who ruled that I would need to wait at the gates of Gan Eden for the same amount of time I had made the innkeeper wait until I helped him.

“I wanted to convey this story to you so that others can be taught about the importance of not delaying assistance to those in need,” the wealthy man’s soul concluded.

Do we have an opportunity to help someone? And if we do, are we doing it at the earliest possible time?