The Secret of the Innkeeper’s Blessing
BY ELCHONON ISAACS
The illustrious Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was the leader of the vibrant Jewish community of Opatów, Poland. In a nearby village lived an innkeeper, a simple Jew famous for his warm hospitality. His name was Psachya. He worked very hard to please his guests and earn an honest living.
Rumors began to circulate that whenever Psachya gave a blessing, it would materialize.
People began frequenting his inn just to receive a blessing for whatever they needed.
“Is he one of the hidden tzaddikim, the hidden righteous, whose merit sustains the world?” mused the rabbi.
The rabbi decided to investigate, and unbeknown to his assistants, he disguised himself and went to the inn, where he was received graciously by Psachya. Discreetly, he began observing the practices of the innkeeper.
He noticed how Psachya worked to keep his guests happy. He also witnessed people coming to see Psachya. They’d pour out their hearts to him, he’d bless them and they’d leave. Oddly, he also noticed that upon receiving payment, Psachya would push the money through a crack in the wall.
On the day the rabbi was to depart, the secret of Psachya’s blessings was still a mystery. And so the rabbi decided to disclose his identity. Upon hearing who his guest was and the reason for his visit, the innkeeper was stunned.
“Please tell me what you have done to merit that your blessings materialize?”
“I don’t know, Rabbi.”
“Did anything out of the ordinary occur in your life?” the rabbi asked.
“No. I chuckle at the people who come to ask for blessings, and I admire their simple faith. Since they are distressed, I humor them with a blessing, and they are happy.”
“When did you notice that people began coming to you for blessings?” the rabbi persisted.
Psachya thought for a while and then began recounting the history of his inn. “The inn was not always so pleasant, and my income was scant. My financial state left a lot to be desired. With every new child, my poverty grew. But my faith was unwavering. I’d pray, and with G‑d’s help, we always managed.
“About a year ago my prayers went unanswered. My finances were in shambles. My wife suggested that I find a partner who could invest some money to freshen up the inn.
“I left the village for the town in search of a partner.If I am looking for a partner, I may as well partner with G‑d. Halfway there an idea flashed in my mind. ‘If I am looking for a partner, I may as well partner with G‑d Himself.’ I laid out the details of the partnership in my mind. G‑d will give me His blessings, and in return, He would have half of the profits.
“I returned home and built this safe behind the wall. After receiving payment, I put the money into this bin with two sections. One section belongs to G‑d, the other belongs to me.”
The rabbi looked smilingly at Psachya and said, “Indeed, your faith is enough of a reason that G‑d should honor your blessings.”
(Translated from Sichat Hashavuah 491, 5.31.96.)
BY ELCHONON ISAACS
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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