Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Outstanding Debt - An Inspirational Story


Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael of Cherkass once visited one of his Chsasidim, Velvel, who was a farmer, and asked to be shown his estate and its holdings. Velvel was honored to comply with this request. When they came to the stable, R' Yaakov Yisrael inquired about one of the horses there, a small one standing in a corner.

"It would give me great pleasure if you would give me this little horse as a present," he told Velvel. The farmer was taken aback.

"Rebbe…this is a small horse. It won't be of use to you. I'll give you a big strong horse to draw your wagon; that would be a worthwhile gift."

But the Rebbe insisted that he wanted only this particular horse.

Velvel persisted in his refusal, explaining, "Rebbe, this is the best horse I have! It works hard all day and night; I have no other like it. Take any other horse, but not this one, please!"

When Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael saw that Velvel could not be persuaded to relinquish the horse, he steered the conversation in a different direction.

After that, when they had gone into the house and sat down, the Rebbe asked Velvel whether he had lent anyone money that was still outstanding.

Surprised at the Rebbe's interest, he replied in the affirmative. He did in fact have a list of loans that had not as yet been repaid.

Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael asked to be shown the list, and immediately picked out one loan, which had been taken by another of his Chassidim, and inquired about it.

Velvel explained that this particular debt was hopeless, as the borrower was now deceased. The Rebbe asked Velvel to give him the loan as a gift.

The farmer was perplexed; why would the Rebbe want a worthless debt? He tried to explain this to the Rebbe, but R' Yaakov Yisrael was adamant that he wanted this and nothing else. Finally, Velvel agreed to grant him this debt, and gave him the promissory note.

Shortly after that, one of Velvel’s workers rushed in and agitatedly informed their master that the hard-working little horse had died! The farmer was distressed at the news, but Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael did not seem a bit surprised.

He told Velvel, "No more debt, no more horse!" and proceeded to explain.

The horse had been a gilgul (reincarnation) of the soul of the debtor, who had been forced to come back to the world in that form in order to repay his debt. Now that Velvel had formally relinquished payment, the debtor's soul could return in peace to the Next World.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Gut Woch" (Mesorah) by Avrohom Barash]


Biographic Note:
Rabbi Y Yaakov Yisrael (Twersky) of Cherkas (1794-1876) was the son of R. Mordechai of Chernobyl, son-in-law of R. Dov Ber of Lubavitch, and grandfather of R. Mordechai Dov of Hornisteipl






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