Monday, December 14, 2009

Dreaming of Wealth

Once, a destitute man came to the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, for a brochah. He started describing the terrible poverty in his home. “My floors are made of dirt, the house is often freezing, and I can hardly put bread on the table. The Gemara in Yevamos 92b, brings the verse from Iyov 36: ‘A poor man will have his afflictions removed,’ and explains that those who suffer destitution in this world have the tribulations of Gehinnom removed from them in the next world.
The poor man continued, “So we see from this Gemara how difficult acute poverty is, since one who suffers it suffers their fair share of Gehinnom in this world! Isn’t it fitting for me to request a blessing for wealth?”
The Chofetz Chaim, however, disagreed. “Quite the contrary! We see from the Gemara how worthwhile poverty is, since through the difficulties of acute poverty one is purified and need not see Gehinnom! Surely being exceedingly poor and bearing your suffering in this world is worthwhile since it means that you will never see Gehinnom!”
It was well known that the Chofetz Chaim practiced what he preached. For virtually his entire life he suffered from dire poverty and had no wish to be wealthy. He too had a dirt floor, his house was also often freezing, and like others suffering from want he also had trouble putting food on the table.
One time, the Chofetz Chaim didn’t eat, and he explained to his students who asked that he was fasting a taanis chalom, to mitigate an evil dream. When asked what he had dreamed, the Chofetz Chaim answered, “I dreamed that I became wealthy. So either way, I must fast. If this is a message from above that wealth has been decreed upon me, I certainly must fast to avert such an evil decree. And if not, then dream was the result of some random thoughts flitting through my head during the day. And if I am thinking anything that makes me wish to be wealthy, it is even more important that I fast!”

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