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The Wanderer: Chapter 4

 “If he can give the money to someone who will use it better than we do, let him give it to someone else”



eb Meir continued with Eliyahu Hanavi’s incredible response:

“Eliyahu Hanavi said that the man’s request for immediate wealth would be granted and that even before he had gone into his home, he would find out just how the money would materialize.

“The man came home, and before he could even get in the door, his wife ran out and related to him what had just occurred. Their children had just been playing in the garden and they had uncovered a tremendous amount of money. Enough money to last them for the next six years!

“But the righteous woman did not want to simply use the money. Instead, she suggested to her husband that they help others with the money for the next six years, and in the zechus of that, Hashem would surely continue to help them.

“Sure enough, instead of spending their newfound fortune on themselves, they used it to help others for the next six years of their lives. How many people they must have gladdened in those years! How many smiles, sighs of relief!

“And at the end of the six years, Eliyahu Hanavi returned to the couple. He told them that he’d come to take back the fortune, and the man told his wife what the holy Eliyahu Hanavi had stated. Once more, with a heart and mind completely rooted in emunas Hashem, the wife tranquilly replied, ‘Very well. If he can give the money to someone who will use it better than we do, let him give it to someone else.’

“But Hashem rewarded the couple for their incredible act and blessed them with even more wealth. As the pasuk states in Yeshayahu, ‘The fruit of righteousness will be peace.’ All ended well for these holy people.”

“Beautiful.” Levi, Reb Meir’s friend smiled. “So you can’t go wrong sharing with others.”

“Of course not.” Meir’s face suddenly darkened as memories began to pour through his mind. “And when you do give to others, don’t ever take advantage…. Sometimes people can be haughty without even realizing it. Their blessings can make them feel superior to others. Besides wealth, there’s power. Someone in a position of authority can fall into the trap of abusing the privileges granted to him by Hashem, and look down on and mistreat others who are not as fortunate. I once thought I was a great man, who selflessly gave his home for young orphans to stay in free of charge. But my position of power made me forget that I was no better than anyone else. In one second, Hashem can flip the positions. The orphans being cared for by me could very well become my own benefactors, and I the needy one…. Nothing is to be taken for granted, Levi. Just look at me. A once powerful, wealthy man, now out in the streets.”

As Reb Meir finished his words, they saw a group of people following a very rich gvir through the streets.

“Ah, Reb Nosson is inviting people to his home for a nice meal. Let’s leave our tasteless food and go enjoy a meal at his house.”

They left and joined Reb Nosson at his massive, elegantly decorated home. They followed him into his home and watched him rush to prepare food.

“I also haven’t eaten all day,”

Reb Nosson explained as he moved around the kitchen. “I know how hungry we all are, and I’ll work as quickly as possible.”

Reb Nosson set out a few plates, one for each of his guests, and one for himself. He took out a sharp knife and began to slice the cooked chicken. He separated the thickest, juiciest pieces, and expertly brushed the scraps to the side of the platter. Reb Meir felt a pang of anger, though he knew he had no right to complain. He was lucky to be receiving food free of charge; why should Reb Nosson give him the better parts of the chicken?

But try as Reb Meir might, he could not quell the resentment and bitterness within his heart. Reb Nosson was no better than he was! He used to have a house even larger than this one! He was at least twice as wealthy as Reb Nosson!

Reb Nosson was oblivious to his guest’s discomfort, and continued preparing the meal. At each step, Reb Meir watched the same pattern: The freshest vegetables went to one side, the wilted ones to the other side. When it came time to pour the drinks, there wasn’t enough vodka for everyone, so Reb Nosson slid the bottle to the side with the better food and placed a glass of water next to the less appealing food.

“Everyone, please come and sit.”

Everyone sat down around the table and Reb Nosson began to serve. It was then that Reb Meir grasped what Reb Nosson’s true intentions were.

All the better food was dished out to his guests, and the vodka distributed to them. Reb Nosson finished serving his guests, and then sat down himself with the worst of the food items and sufficed with a cup of water for his drink.

“Thank you,” Reb Meir whispered. “You’re the choshuver balabos…. You should really come first.”

“Do you think Hashem thinks I’m better than anyone else? From Hashem’s point of view up there—” Reb Nosson pointed upward, then gestured to the distance between Reb Meir and himself, “the distance between me and you is nothing at all.”

Reb Meir burst out crying, his tears falling onto his plate.

“I wish I had lived with that attitude, and was kinder to the people I used to care for when I lived in my mansion….”

Reb Meir told his tale to Reb Nosson as the latter listened in astonishment.

“I can’t bear it anymore…. It’s been so hard — this wandering, this suffering. I feel like I’ve already learned my lesson….”

“You should travel to the great tzaddik, Rav Chaim Sanzer, and seek his counsel,” Reb Nachum advised.

That’s exactly what Reb Meir did. Rav Chaim looked up when Reb Meir came into the room and immediately said, “The great baal teshuvah is here. He can return home, the wandering is enough, even though three years have not yet passed. Go to the grave of Rebbe Meir of Premishlan. Cry there, and tell him I’ve ruled that your wandering has been enough already.”

Reb Meir did so, and after he finished pouring out his heart by the tzaddik’s kever he felt as though a huge burden had rolled off his heart.

Reb Meir returned home a changed man. Teshuvah is possible for everyone, no matter how serious the sin. And after a person returns to Hashem, he can be even greater, holier, and more devoted than ever before. Just like Reb Meir, the wealthy man turned wanderer, the great baal teshuvah.




(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 945)

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