When word spread that a simple innkeeper had begun giving brachos and that they were always being fulfilled, the Apter Rav, zy”a, famed as the Ohev Yisrael, decided to go see this Jew and find out where his power came from.
The Rebbe came to the inn, stayed there for two days and observed the innkeeper. He saw that he was neither a learned man, nor did he spend much time davening. He stood all day in the tavern that was part of the inn and sold brandy.
On the other hand, the Rebbe observed no sign that this man was doing anything improper that would suggest that his powers came from the “side of impurity.”
Finally, the Apter Rav took the innkeeper aside, identified himself and asked him directly.
The man replied, “All my life, I’ve kept one virtue. I have always trusted Hashem with everything, and never worried about anything. One time I lost all my money, and had nothing left with which to buy more brandy. My wife begged me to go to the city and find a partner who would invest in the tavern. With the money he would give, we would be able to reopen and have enough income for both partners. I rejected her idea. However, after a few days of watching the family suffer hunger, she cried so much that I couldn’t stand it any longer, and told her that I would go and look for a partner.
“I went out of town and spoke to Hashem. ‘Ribbono shel Olam!’ I said. ‘I wish for no human partners; I will take You for a Partner! I promise You, whatever profits I earn, I will divide equally between us.’
“I returned home, secure in my trust in Hashem, and told my wife that I had found a good partner with lots of money to invest. Since then I have had great success in my tavern, and a blessing has come in all that I have. I divide all my profits with my Partner — that is, I give His half to the poor, and I will not trust anyone to run this business in my stead. I stay here in the tavern all day long, and all earnings I divide, half to Hashem and half to me.”
The Ohev Yisrael, whose yahrtzeit is 5 Nisan, Friday night, kissed the man on his head. He told the man, “Happy is your lot! May there be many more like you in Am Yisrael! Your blessings are fulfilled, and rightfully so.”
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The Midrash Tanchuma relates that an impoverished Kohen once found himself in such financial distress that he informed his wife that he wished to leave Eretz Yisrael and seek a parnassah in chutz laAretz. Before leaving, he decided to teach his wife the halachos of a metzora, of which he was an expert.
When describing the fact that art of the purifying process is for the afflicted individual to shave off all his facial hair, the Kohen related the fact that each individual hair received nourishment and grows from its very own opening, for were two hairs to grow from the same opening, it would darken a person’s eyesight.
“Listen to your own words!” his wife admonished him. “If Hashem ensures that every hair on your head has its own, independent sustenance, how much more so for yourself! Why should you distance yourself to a faraway land to find the “opening” from where to receive sustenance?”
The Ben Ish Chai points out that there are two crucial lessons to learn from this Chazal. One is the paramount importance of bitachon, of relying solely on Hashem and recognizing that ultimately our fate and our parnassah is solely in His hands.
It is sometimes tempting to delude oneself that a certain field or a certain place is the ticket to financial success, but in reality, while one is required to perform the requisite hishtadlus, the where and the how one will receive the parnassah is dependent solely on Hashem.
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A related lesson is the teaching of Chazal (Yoma 38) that “No man can touch what is prepared for his fellow … even to the extent of one hair.”
The Ben Ish Chai explains that this refers to the fact that each hair grows from its very own pore, where it receives its own nourishment.
A great many disputes would be avoided, and enormous amounts of agmas nefesh spared, if this Chazal were remembered at all times.
Instead of fearing the competitor four blocks down or expressing fury against the former employee who decided to go out on his own, we would realize that, while our parnassah is heavily influenced by our level of bitachon and tefillah, it is not affected by the actions of others.