Reb Raphael of Barshad was a humble and pious man, known as a tzaddik who never uttered a bad word against anyone.
Once, one of his relatives came to him with a plea for help. His daughter was engaged to a wonderful young man, a talmid chacham. The date of the wedding was nearing and he didn’t have a penny to make the wedding. He didn’t even have money to buy his daughter a wedding gown.
“I ﬁgure I need a total of 50 rubles to make the wedding and buy my daughter the necessary clothes,” said the poor relative. “If you will loan me this money, I promise to repay you in six months.”
Reb Raphael sighed, “I would love to help you, but I, too, have no money,” he said. “I barely make ends meet, let alone put aside money.”
Loans A Necklace
Suddenly, Reb Raphael remembered that his wife had a diamond necklace, an heirloom that she had received from her mother. The necklace had been in the family for generations.
Calling over his wife, he explained the situation about his poor relative and asked her to give his relative the necklace so that he could pawn it and receive the 50 rubles he needed. His wife gave him the necklace, which he turned over to his poor relation.
The poor relative thanked him profusely and he promised to return the necklace in a half year, after he redeemed it from the pawnbroker. The poor man hurried home, and with the money he received for the necklace, he was able to make the wedding.
Forgets His Promise
Six months passed and the poor relative forgot about the necklace. A year soon passed and still nothing was heard about the necklace. Finally, the wife began to complain to Reb Raphael.
“Raphael,” she said, “a year has already passed and I still haven’t heard anything about the necklace, my family’s heirloom. Perhaps you should pay your relative a visit and remind him of his promise to return it after six months.”
Reb Raphael agreed. He traveled to his relative and remained with him for a few days. When he returned home he said to his wife: “I would never have believed that my relative was so versed in Chassidus and so humble and pious. I spent the entire time talking Torah with him. He is truly a wonderful person.”
“And what about the necklace?” asked the poor spouse.
“The necklace?” replied Reb Raphael in wonder. “I completely forgot to ask him about it.”
Humbleness And Piety
Reb Raphael was so humble and pious that he thought people suspected him of doing wrong.
Once a neighbor came to him, complaining that somebody had broken into his home and stolen jewelry and hundreds of rubles. “Would the Holy Rebbe please give me a blessing that G-d will replace my loss very soon?” the man pleaded.
Reb Raphael thought that the man suspected him of the robbery and therefore came to him in the guise of asking for a blessing.
Calling to his wife, Reb Raphael said, “Dear wife, please state in front of our neighbor that I did not leave the house for the past 24 hours and therefore am innocent of any wrongdoing.”
Never An Untruth
It is said that Reb Raphael was always very careful to refrain from saying anything that was untrue. One day he entered his home while it was raining outside. When asked if it was still raining, he replied, ‘When I was outside it was raining.’ He did not want to mislead in case it had stopped raining from the time he entered his home. This may seem to be ridiculous or inconsequential. However, if a person is careful with keeping to the truth in such instances, he will definitely be careful in more important matters. On the other hand, if a person is careless with the truth, he can even be tempted to lie in major ways!”
Answering The Heavenly Court
Reb Raphael would say, “After 120 years, when I will have to appear before the Heavenly Court, I can answer every question put to me except that of haughtiness.
“If they will ask me, ‘Have you dealt in business honestly?’ I will reply, ‘I was never a merchant or a storekeeper and I never had any business. Therefore, there is no complaint against me on this score.”
“If they will ask, ‘Did you devote time to the study of Torah?’ I will answer, ‘I am an ignorant person and my mind could not comprehend it.’
“If they ask, ‘Did you do much praying and fasting for your sins?’ I will reply, ‘I am weak and sickly and couldn’t do it because of health reasons.’
“If they will ask, ‘Did you give charity to the poor?’ I will respond, ‘I, too, was poverty-stricken. Therefore, I had no money for others.’
“But I fear if they should ask, ‘True, you may have been ignorant, sickly and poor, but what right did you have to be haughty?’ I fear that I will have no answer for them. Woe is to me, for how will I be able to answer this question?”
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