Our Sages Showed the Way
Translated from the Hebrew by
Stories for young readers and listeners
from the Talmud, Midrash,
and the literature of the Sages
Jerusalem " New York
Trust in Hashem
In a faraway city there lived a very
wealthy man. He had a large home
with expensive furniture and a lovely
garden full of flowers and trees. He
could afford to buy whatever his heart desired. But
in spite of all his wealth, he was not happy, for he
lived alone in his big house. He had no family
neither father nor mother, wife nor children. The
man was very lonely and sad.
"What good is all my money?" he thought.
"Shall I buy food? I already have more than I can
eat! Shall I buy more clothes? All my closets are
full of clothes! Shall I buy jewelry? Alas, there is
no one to enjoy it. When I die, who will inherit all
my wealth? If only I were able to make someone
happy with it!"
And so the man was always sad and worried.
His neighbors saw that he was unhappy, and after
finding out why, they said, "Why don't you give
some of your money to the poor? You will make
them happy and at the same time you will be
doing one of the mitzuoth of the Torah."
The rich man decided to follow their sugges-
tion. "Yes, that's what I'll do!" he said. "But I
won't give my money to just any beggar on the
street. I will only give it to someone as lonely as I,
someone who doesn't have anyone else in the world
to help him. Someone like that will certainly be
very happy with my help."
The man took a large purse filled with silver
coins and went looking among the poor for some-
one who lived alone and had no one to support
him. But such a person was not to be found. One
man was helped by his children, a second was
supported by his relatives, a third person was
helped by his neighbors, and a fourth by good
people who fulfilled the mitzvah of giving
tzedakah to the poor. The rich man searched and
searched but could not find a single person who
was all alone in the world and really had no one to
One day, while walking in the countryside, the
rich man saw a poor stranger sitting on a pile of
stones. The man was very thin and his clothes were
torn and shabby, yet he appeared to be happy and
"Why are you sitting here?" asked the rich
"Because I have no other place to sit," replied
the stranger. "I don't have a house or even a room
of my own."
"Why is your face so thin?" asked the rich
"I have not had anything to eat for a long
time," was the reply.
"Why are your clothes so shabby?"
"Because they are old and I have no other
clothes," answered the beggar.
"Don't you have any relatives or neighbors or
friends to help you?"
"No, I don't," said the poor man.
"At long last, I have found the man I have been
looking for," thought the rich man with relief.
"There is no one to help him, so I will give him my
He took his purse and gave it to the stranger
who stared at it in amazement and asked, "Why
are you giving me so much money? If you want to
give tzedakah, there are many other poor people in
the city besides me. Why are you giving all your
money to me?"
"Because I will only give my money to someone
who has no one else in the whole world to help him,
and you are such a person," explained the rich
The poor man immediately returned the purse
to the rich man and exclaimed, "God forbid! I
never said such a thing! There may not be any
person in the world to help me, but Hashem will
have pity on me and will help me. I am sure of
that. Please take your money back and give it to
The rich man was disappointed. "In that case,
there is no one to whom I can give my wealth!" he
thought. So he dug a hole in the ground, buried his
purse and returned home.
Hashem, who is aware of everything, saw that
the rich man had hidden his wealth, so that no one
could enjoy it. He was not pleased with this deed,
and so He caused the rich man to lose all his
money and become poor. At first he was forced to
sell his beautiful garden and his expensive furni-
ture. Next he had to sell his big house and
everything in it, until finally he had nothing left.
Then one day he remembered the purse that he
had hidden in the ground, and he thought to
himself, "I will go and take that money for myself.
How lucky I am that I still have something left!"
So he went to the place where he had hidden his
purse, but while he was digging, two policemen
passed by and saw him.
"Why are you digging here?" they asked the
"I am looking for my money which I hid in the
ground," he said.
''Your money, you say!" exclaimed one of the
policemen. "You surely must have stolen it. Other-
wise you would not have hidden it. Come with us
to the city mayor and he will decide what to do
with you!" So the policemen took the man and
brought him before the mayor.
The man cried bitterly. "Please believe me,
your honor," he pleaded. "This is truly my money
and I did not steal it. I hid it only because I
couldn't find anyone who deserved it."
The mayor looked at the poor man and said
kindly, "Don't you recognize me? I am that same
poor man who did not want to accept your money.
Now you can see that Hashem can help everyone
even a poor man who has nothing. He had pity
on me and helped me, and I became the ruler of
the city. I am blessed with all that my heart
desires. Fear not," added the kind mayor. "I know
that you are not a thief and that the purse is yours.
You may take it. But why should you remain so
lonely and sad? Come live with me in my beautiful
home and eat with me at my table!"
The man accepted the mayor's invitation and
moved into his home. He learned to be happy and
content, trusting in Hashem and awaiting His
Source: Rabbi Nissim Gaon, Sefer Hama'asiyoth