During the era of the Second Beit Hamikdash, in the city of Chevron, there lived a man named Nadav who was generous and charitable, always on the watch for a person in need whom he might help.
Nadav took pity on the numerous paupers in the city and would constantly invite them to be his guests. Even when the immense expenses began to eat into his income he did not cease to give tzedakkah. He sold his fields and his property and with the money he continued to do chesed.
The day soon arrived, however, when all that he owned was gone and he remained a poor man himself. His family had to struggle and there was little food in the house. Now it was Hoshana Rabba and what were they to do? His wife had put some money away and now gave it to him saying, “Here is money to buy food for Yom Tov. Be careful because it is all that we have left.”
An Orphan Girl
Nadav took the money and set off to buy food for his family. When he arrived in town, however, he noticed the gabbai tzedakah going about collecting money. Going over to them he asked:
“Is there any special reason for collecting money today?”
“Yes, there is,” they replied. “A young orphan girl is homeless and without food and she is desperate. We are collecting emergency money for her.”
When Nadav heard this he said: “I am poor today my brothers, but at least my children have a father and a mother who will see to it that, somehow, they will always have some bread. But this poor child, if we will not help her, how will she live?”
And with this, Nadav thrust into their hands the money that his wife had given him to buy food. The gabbaim looked at him and cried out: “May the Almighty bless you as you deserve!”
Nadav Cannot Return Home
He had done a generous thing, but Nadav did not know how to face his wife. He wandered into the courtyard of a nearby shul and saw children playing with esrogim.
Going over to the children, he said: “Children, if it is not too much to ask, may I have the esrogim you are playing with?”
The children knew of Nadav and gladly gave them to him. Nadav then took all the esrogim, placed them in a sack, and set off for the nearby port. Perhaps if he left for a different land fortune might shine upon him….
The King Is Ill
The ship took Nadav to a foreign land whose king, at that very moment, lay ill. His doctors shook their heads gravely as they consulted together.
“There is no hope for him,” they agreed. “This illness is too mysterious and there is no known cure.”
Gloom shrouded the palace as word spread that the king was doomed. That night, however, as the king lay in troubled sleep he had a remarkable dream. A figure appeared to him and said:
“Know that there is still a way for you to be saved from the terrible malady you have. If you can eat from the special fruit on which the Jews make a blessing on their holiday, you will yet rise from the bed and live.”
The Fruit Is Found
The king awoke in a frantic state and called for his servants.
“Go quickly, and scour the country. Perhaps there is someone who possesses the sacred Jewish fruit.”
The servants began to hunt desperately throughout the land for the fruit but no one even knew what the fruit looked like. But the Hand of the Almighty was already thrust out in salvation. The ship carrying Nadav had docked and the forlorn man stepped ashore bearing his sack of esrogim. He sat down on the dock and opened the sack to inspect his possessions. At that moment two soldiers of the king rode up and shouted: “You, stranger, what have you on your hand?”