Protection Against Fire
The fame of Rav Nachum’s good deeds and kindness became known everywhere, and many people came for his blessings, which often embarrassed this humble saint.
Once, a very wealthy man who owned many houses and estates came to Rav Nachum and, “I want you to bless me and promise me that no fire will ever break out in any of my possessions. If you do this for me, I promise to pay you a princely sum of money every year.”
Rav Nachum was in a quandary. Am I G-d that I can give a person such a promise? he thought. On the other hand, to receive so much money and give it to the poor is a great mitzvah. An opportunity like this doesn’t come every day, and there is so much suffering and hunger in town.
“I cannot promise anything,” said Rav Nachum. “But this much I can assure you: the merit, the zechus, of the charity that you will give every year which I will distribute for you will protect you against all harm and fire.”
The wealthy man agreed, giving Rav Nachum a large sum of money to distribute to the poor every year – and in all those years a fire never broke out in his possessions, although many times one broke out nearby.
Doing His Duty
Once Rav Nachum heard that a wealthy man was stopping at a hotel at the other end of town, and was leaving in the morning. Rav Nachum set out to see the man to request money for the poor of the town. It was a terrible night, snowing, freezing and windy. On the way, Rav Nachum fell into a snow bank and couldn’t extricate himself. Fearing that his end was near, he shouted with his last strength: “You are righteous in everything you do, O G-d, regardless what happens to me.”
A passing coachman heard his cry and investigated until he found Rav Nachum buried in the snow. He got him out, revived him, and took him into his wagon.
“Take me to this hotel, where the wealthy man is stopping so I can ask him for money for charity,” Rav Nachum requested of the coachman.
“I don’t understand you,” replied the coachman. “You were near death, and you still want to continue on. Let me take you home.”
“What do sailors do when their boat sinks?” Rav Nachum asked. “Don’t they go back again on the sea in a new boat, or do they quit? What are you doing out on this kind of a night- isn’t it to earn a living?”
“How do you compare yourself to me?” replied the coachman. “I have to support seven little children who depend upon me to bring home their bread. You don’t.”
“On the contrary,” said Rav Nachum. “You only have seven; I have hundreds in this town who are starving.”
Rav Nachum reached the hotel, and when the rich man heard of his experience, he gave him a large sum of money for the poor.