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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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The Joy of Fulfilling A Mitzvah


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The blessing of the Chasam Sofer came true. Within a week he sold all the coffee at a tremendous profit that helped him to recoup all of his former losses. Before he returned to his town of Pressburg he purchased a beautiful besamim box, as a gift of appreciation for his Rebbe.

A Gift

Returning home he immediately visited the Chasam Sofer and returned the one hundred gold coins along with the beautiful box, meantime expressing his gratitude for the aid he received.

The Chasam Sofer looked the box over carefully and exclaimed, “What a beautiful box! Never have I seen anything as beautiful as this!”

The merchant was glad that the Rabbi enjoyed his gift and he beamed in happiness.

The Chasam Sofer called in his two children and said, “Have you ever seen anything as beautiful as this box? Our friend here is giving it to me as a gift for a small loan which I had given him.”

Turning to the merchant, the Chasam Sofer said, “True, this besamim box is the most beautiful piece of workmanship I have ever seen, but I cannot accept it. It would be compared to accepting interest on my loan, which our Torah strictly forbids. If you would have given me this box before I gave you the loan I would have gladly accepted it from you.”

The merchant realized he had done something wrong and was crestfallen as he took back the box and departed.

The two children could not contain themselves any longer. “Father,” they said, “will you please explain your behavior. At first you were overjoyed at seeing this gift and then you returned it. Why were you so joyful in the beginning, if it was prohibited!”

“Let me tell you a similar story which occurred to my sainted Rebbe, the Gaon, Rav Nasan Adler. Once he had to travel out of town on a matter of importance. It was during the winter months and the highways were covered with snow. He took me along with him as a companion for I was one of his best pupils.

“Suddenly, in the middle of the road, the coach became stuck in a deep rut. Try as he would, the driver could not move the wagon. He then decided to walk over to the nearest farm and borrow a pair of extra horses to pull the wagon out of the rut. Thirty minutes later I suddenly noticed my sainted Rav jump off the wagon and begin to dance with joy.

“Rebbe, why are you dancing?” I asked in wonder at his stranger behavior.

“Don’t you see what is happening?” he joyfully pointed a finger towards the driver who was now approaching with two oxen to attach to the wagon.

But before the driver could attach the oxen to the wagon the Rav advised him that it was prohibited according to the Torah to harness two different types of animals, a horse with an ox. The driver had to return to the farmer and borrow two horses instead.

“Tell me, Rebbe,” I also asked my master, “Why were you dancing with joy when you saw the driver about to commit a sin?”

“Don’t you realized this is the only time in my life I was able to fulfill this mitzvah of Kilai Behaimos (mixing of animals) and I shouldn’t be happy?” he answered. “All my life I am enclosed in the Beis Midrash and I never will have the opportunity to observe this kind of a mitzvah. Therefore, I rejoice.”

The Chasam Sofer concluded: “These words from my sainted Rebbe, which I had heard over forty years ago, became ingrained in my memory. I often wondered when I would have the zechus, to observe the mitzvah of not accepting interest. For who would dare offer a Rav interest? But now G-d gave me this opportunity of proving me and I came through with flying colors. Shouldn’t I too dance with joy?”

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“What could I do? Your wife is hard of hearing,” whispered the poor woman barely able to talk.

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