Once there lived a truly pious man. He would rise early, wash his hands in the prescribed manner, wrap himself in tallis and tefillin, and turn with joy and fervor to pray to His Maker. He would scrupulously watch that all food that entered his home was strictly kosher; he would never eat a morsel without the proper bracha and he would devote a portion of each day to the study of Torah.
Above all, despite the fact that he was desperately poor, he would never fail to give a portion of his meager income to those less fortunate than he.
Despite all his good deeds, he grew more and more destitute, more and more desperate –
he was forced to find clothes for his family in other people’s garbage. Still his faith in G-d never wavered and he continued to lead a Torah life.
Help Comes From Heaven
The Almighty, seeing the piety of this man and his hard life, decided that the time had come to reward him for his faithfulness. He called to Eliyahu HaNavi and said, “Eliyahu, My servant, I have a mission for you. There is a man who is pious and good. He observes each and every one of My commandments, and never fails to give charity to the poor, even though he himself is in desperate straits. Now go and give this man four golden zuzim that he may be blessed with good fortune and grow in wealth and honor.”
Eliyahu Comes To Earth
Eliyahu hurried to G-d’s bidding. He found the man in the midst of prayer. Watching him, Eliyahu was impressed by his kavana and approached him:
“Peace be unto you.”
“Unto you let there be peace.”
“I have been sent by someone with a gift for you,” said Eliyahu. “He wishes to remain anonymous.”
The man protested: “I cannot take this money. All of my life I have refrained from taking charity. There are surely those who need it more than I do.”
Eliyahu persisted until the man agreed to take the coins.
The Man Grows Wealthy
The man hurried to the market place and bought a suit, for he had been wearing little more than rags for many months.
As he left the market place a stranger approached him. “Pardon me, my friend, but I have a very important favor to ask of you. I cannot get over the beauty of your suit. I must have it, and money is no object.”
“How much will you pay me?” asked the pious man.
“I will pay you twenty four gold pieces,” answered the stranger.
“Agreed,” was the answer.
And so began a marvelous period of good fortune. He invested the twenty-four gold pieces in many types of businesses and everything his hand touched turned to gold.
He acquired great and lush fields of wheat, many valuable vineyards and olive groves, great ships that plied the ocean trade routes, many servants to do his bidding. His wife was now in possession of luxurious furs and priceless jewels. His children possessed all that their hearts could desire.
The Man Forgets G-d
And now a curious and terrible thing happened. In the midst of his great fortune, the man forgot G-d. No longer did he seem to have time to daven, no longer did he remember to make brachos. Above all, no longer did he seem to have enough money to spare for charity.
“Business was not too good last week,” he would exclaim, “and I cannot spare it. These poor people have gotten quite enough money from me over the years,” he would begin to say.