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Parshas Yisro 5784

עתה שמע בקלי איעצך ויהי אלקים עמך היה אתה לעם מול האלקים והבאת אתה את הדברים אל האלקים ... (יה-יט)

R’ Meir Premishlaner zt”l once commented, “I had a dream, and in it I was waiting for entry to the World to Come. As I waited, a man came and asked to be admitted. He was asked why he should be admitted and replied: ‘I spent all my life studying Torah, and acquired a great deal of Torah knowledge.’ He was told, ‘Wait until we evaluate whether your Torah study was done out of pure intentions.’ Along came another man, and he said: ‘I spent my time praying with great kavanah.’ He was told, ‘Wait until we see whether your prayers were made with the proper intentions.’ Then a simple man came along and told them: ‘I spent my time helping others in need.’ He was admitted immediately into Gan Eden. After all, whatever his intentions, those in need had been helped. And that was when I decided to devote my life to help others in need,” he concluded.

A poor man once came to R’ Meir and said to him, “Rebbe, I have three daughters of marriageable age, but I have absolutely no money to pay for their dowries, and without a dowry no man will be willing to marry them. I cannot stand the idea of them growing old without marrying. I’ve reached the end of my rope. I will not budge until you help me.”

R’ Meir looked at the heart-broken individual and asked him what he did for a living. The man said, “I make a small amount of money by going to different farms, buying pig bristles, and reselling them in the city.”

“And how much merchandise do you have right now?” asked R’ Meir. “About twenty rubles worth,” answered the man.

“Take all your merchandise, and go to Lvov,” R’ Meir instructed him. “Sell all the bristles, and with that money I want you to buy the first thing that is offered to you.” The man did as told, and sold his merchandise for forty rubles. Now he looked around for something to buy, but as he was dressed in rags, all the merchants simply ignored him.

Finally, as nightfall approached, he found himself outside the store window of a wealthy merchant. He stared at the fancily decorated window, not knowing what to do. As he stood there, the merchant was closing up. He came outside and saw the poor man staring at his pricey display and knew he could not afford anything. The merchant decided to have a bit of fun.

“Do you want to buy from me?” he asked. “Yes,” replied the poor man, “I’m willing to buy anything you offer to sell me.”

The merchant couldn’t resist the temptation and told the man, “I’ve got a great deal for you. Give me all your money, and I’ll sell you my place in the World to Come.” Remembering the Rebbe’s words, the poor man agreed to the sale. He handed over the forty rubles, and in return received a note from the merchant selling him his place in the World to Come. As soon as the poor man left, the merchant and his workers all had a good laugh, as they divided up the spoils among them.

Soon enough, the story spread, and the merchant was told, “You are going to kill your business if this deal remains intact. If, indeed, as you believe, there is no World to Come, by your actions you cheated a poor man out of his money, and are an untrustworthy person with whom no one will do business. If, on the other hand, there is a World to Come, you sold your share in it for a pittance and are a very poor businessman - why would anyone want to do business with a poor businessman?”

Later, when the merchant returned home, he found that the door to his home had been locked by his wife, a pious person who had been taken aback tremendously by her husband’s actions. “You have two choices,” she told him. “Either you bring me the document of sale you gave the poor man, or you give me a get - a bill of divorce.”

Realizing the trouble he had gotten himself into, the merchant started looking for the poor man. He found him and offered double and then triple what he had paid, but the poor man refused to sell the note back. He was told by R’ Meir to buy the first thing offered to him, and this was the first thing. Seeing that the poor man was unbending, the merchant suggested that they return to R’ Meir and hear his verdict. R’ Meir heard the entire story and then ruled, “The poor man has an absolute right to the document you gave him of your own free will, and for which you were paid. He has three daughters who need dowries. Offer him the cost of the three dowries, and I’m sure he’ll accept.” The rich man had no option other than to pay the dowries.



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