There was once a very rich man who possessed large estates. He owned many acres of land but he still lacked enough oxen with which to plough the land. One day the wealthy man took along a bag containing 100 gold coins and set forth to the city to purchase oxen.
On the way, he met Eliyahu HaNavi in the disguise of an elderly man.
“Where are you going, my good friend?” asked Eliyahu HaNavi.
“I am going to the city to purchase oxen so that I can plough my lands,” answered the man.
“G-d willing,” murmured Eliyahu HaNavi.
“What nonsense,” replied the man, “What has G-d to do with this matter? I have sufficient money to purchase the oxen whether G-d wills it or not.”
“Foolish man,” said Eliyahu HaNavi. “You may not be lucky.”
“It’s mere superstition,” angrily retorted the man and walked away. On the road to the city the man accidentally lost his wallet. When he reached the marketplace he bid for many oxen. However, when he reached for his money, he was dismayed to find it missing. He spent the rest of the day searching for his wallet and returned home that night very distraught.
The following day he took another 100 gold coins and started for the city. Again he met Eliyahu HaNavi who asked him where he was going.
“To purchase oxen,” was the reply.
“G-d willing,” said Eliyahu HaNavi.
“Whether G-d wills it or not, I have sufficient money to purchase the oxen. Good day!” With that the man hurried on.
Feeling very tired, the man decided to lie down to catch a few winks of sleep. While he was sleeping, someone came along and stole his wallet.
When he woke up, the man felt for his wallet. Imagine his chagrin when he found it missing.
“I must be jinxed,” shouted the man in dismay. He searched for many hours but to no avail. Feeling miserable and dejected, he returned home.
The following day he again set forth to the market. As before, he took along another 100 gold coins.
“Where are you going, my friend?” asked Eliyahu HaNavi.
“To purchase oxen, G-d willing,” replied the man meekly.
“I see you have learned your lesson,” said Eliyahu HaNavi. “G-d bless you and may you be lucky!” Eliyahu HaNavi then made a sign and the previous 200 coins that he had lost were returned to his pocket. The man did not know of this.
Entering the city he visited the cattle market and saw two parei adumah untouched by any harness.
“How much do these oxen cost?” he asked.
“Two hundred gold coins,” was the reply.
“I don’t have that much money,” said the man. But putting his hands into his pocket he suddenly felt the extra money. Imagine his surprise when he extracted 300 coins from his pocket. With the remainder of the money he purchased additional oxen to plough the fields.
Returning home, he sold the parei adumah to the king for a thousand gold coins.
Therefore Ben Sira said: “A person never knows what will happen to him from early morning to night, therefore, he must always say, ‘G-d willing.’”