G-d Is The Best Guarantor
Once a poor man, a stranger, came to the gaon, Rav Yeshaya of Zichovirtz, and requested a loan of $1,000 for a period of a half-year.
“I’ll be glad to,” replied the rav, “but do you have a co-signer or guarantor to vouch for you?”
“I am a stranger in town,” replied the man who now began to cry. “I have been to every place, but no one will trust me enough to lend me the money, which I desperately need. G-d is my guarantor. He knows why I need the money. Let Him be my co-signer!”
“You couldn’t have chosen a better guarantor than Him,” replied the rav and he lent the man the money.
A half-a-year later the man returned to the rav with the $1,000 and said, “G-d was good to me and my business has prospered. I needed the money to save my business then, and I couldn’t tell anyone how desperate I was, for my creditors would have closed me up if they heard of it.”
“I am sorry but I can’t accept the money,” the gaon answered. “Your co-signer has already repaid your loan.”
“How is that possible?” asked the merchant.
“On the day I gave you the money I received some rare merchandise which was immediately sold for $1,000. The whole transaction appeared so miraculously that I attributed it to your co-signer, and I applied it to your account as payment in full.”
“I will not hear of it,” replied the surprised merchant. “I will not accept a free gift, for I always pay my debts.”
They argued for a long time until they came to the following conclusion: The money was to be given to the charity fund as a gemilas chesed for the Jews of Vilna, and both were to share the mitzvah.
The Gaon Exposes The Thief
The following story is told of the Maharal of Prague who was called upon to decide a very puzzling case.
It seemed that a butcher shop and a shoe store adjoined each other and were separated only by a thin partition, so that the proprietor of each could overhear the conversation of the other.
The butcher was a simple honest man, trusting all and suspecting none. It was his custom before closing the store to count the money collected for the day’s sales and then lock it in a strong wooden box, which served as a safe.
The counting was invariably done in a loud voice, which was heard through the partition. One night the proprietor of the shoe store broke the thin partition dividing the two stores and then notified the police, that to his belief, he had been robbed by his neighbor. He informed the authorities as to how much money he had lost and urged them to open the box, so that the contents therein might be examined and his suspicion verified.
The box was opened in the presence of the two storekeepers and it was found to contain the exact amount claimed by the shoe merchant. The police were convinced of the butcher’s guilt. They were about to deliver the money to the plaintiff and arrest the accused man, when the butcher demanded that they all visit the gaon, the Maharal, who through his Divine powers would ascertain the truth.
They all went to the home of the gaon who listened with profound deliberation to the case. The evidence, although circumstantial, was clearly against the defendant. But there was something in the voice and appearance of the butcher that told the great man that he was the victim of a wily scheme.
For a long time the gaon looked puzzled. Incessantly he paced up and down the long study, which was also his courtroom and stroked his patriarchal beard. At long last he had an inspiration.
“Bring me a pail of water,” he ordered.
The police brought a pail of water.
Throw the money into the pail,” commanded the tzaddik.
The officers obeyed, and in a few moments the water was covered with a layer of fat.
“The money belongs to the butcher,” declared the holy man, “and that shoemaker is a scoundrel. Arrest him!”