Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Earning Your Portion of the Wolrld to Come

It is well known that it is virtually impossible to achieve significant material comfort without real hard work even nowadays. During the time of the Ba’al Hafla’ah, zt”l, however, just making a simple living could consume all of a person’s time and energy. Jews often worked in petty trade, and people would exert themselves for days on end riding through rain and snow to purchase merchandise in one place just so they could cart it somewhere else where they hoped to make a profit. Sometimes the merchandise would be stolen or destroyed, or would lose whatever value it had even before it got to market. Such a misfortune could bring on swift ruin.
Once, a traveling merchant who had been riding the whole night and was in dire need of refreshment found himself at the doorstep of the famous Ba’al Hafla’ah. The man was literally freezing and was desperately in need of shelter from the blizzard that raged outside. He was graciously admitted to the house, and after some hot tea and cake warmed him up a bit, he posed a question to the gadol.
“The Rav can see for himself what my olam ha’zeh is like,” he began. “My question is, what will my olam ha’bah look like?”
The Ba’al Hafla’ah gently answered, “My son, this is what your olam ha’zeh looks like after putting in so much effort. What makes you think that you’ll merit a big portion in the next world without any toil at all?”

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