Fate and Good Fortune
by Avi Lazerson
What is the relationship between a Blessing and Fate? Can a Blessing really change a person's predestined fate. Can it really be that a "Tzaddik" (a truly righteous man) is able to give "blessings" that aid people in their lives. How does this supernatural power work?
A short story can illustrate this:
Once there was a very pious man and his wife who lived in Russia. They were very poor. The man worked very hard to make a simple living, but nothing seemed to give him any success. He borrowed money from here, and then from there, and then again, he borrowed to repay the first loan, and so on. He sank deeper and deeper into debt.
His children were growing and the cost to provide them with simple rudiments of life such as food, clothing and heat in the winter, not to mention to pay for their education became a tremendous yoke on the back of this poor and impoverished man. His wife urged his to go to a reputed "tzaddik", a holy man, who was known to help people with his holy blessings.
With only a few rubles in their pocket, they started on the journey to see this famous tzaddik. After a few days travel they were privileged to be received by this righteous man. They poured out their heart to him about their very difficult financial situation and asked the tzaddik to help them. The tzaddik agreed and told them, "I see that you are a pious man. Don't worry. Have faith in me and in G-d, that all will be well. Buy a government lottery ticket and I assure you that you will soon have more than enough money to pay off your debts and begin a new life of philanthropy."
The man and his wife were ecstatic. They left the house of the tzaddik with ear-to-ear smiles. For sure, they said, G-d would listen to the blessing of a tzaddik and they could now pay off all of their debts and bills.
The man stopped in the village store and approached the clerk. Putting down 5 rubbles he purchased a ticket. The clerk took the money, dipped his hand into a large sack and extracted a large sealed envelope. Inside was written the lottery number.
As the man and his wife began walking towards their village, he ripped open the envelope to see what does the lottery ticket look like. It was a printed form with a large ten digit number in the center of the form.
The man looked at the number and shrieked. His wife frightenly turned towards him to see what was the matter. Speechlessly, he motioned to his wife to look at the number. She also froze. Written in the center of the ticket was the number:
"Such a special number! For certain we are going to win. Look there are seven 7's! This is a special omen from heaven that this ticket is special. I can feel already that the blessing of the tzaddik is already working!"
The man felt so confident he told his wife that they would use the last of their money to treat themselves to the luxury of sleeping in a roadside inn in lieu of sleeping in the forest. This was indeed a great occasion and they felt so confident in the blessing of the tzaddik that they felt they would soon be wealthy.
After eating the evening meal, the happy Jew and his confident wife settled down for a night sleep in a real bed.
In the same inn, one of the wealthy landowners of the province came to spend the night. A cruel man, known for his recklessness and hatred of Jews, he loved money and had bought a lottery ticket in hope of winning. After eating and drinking he fell into a deep sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a Jew win the national lottery and that he was very very sad. He woke up startled at the dream, but shrugged it off and went back to sleep again.
A second time he dreamt the same dream. He saw a very happy Jew holding the winning lottery ticket and he held a losing ticket. This time he saw that the Jew was in the same inn as himself. He saw himself as very sad and embarrassed in the dream and then he woke up.
Startled at having the same dream twice, he found it difficult to fall asleep again. He tossed in his bed, seeing the happy Jew with the winning ticket and himself as a loser.
In the morning he called his servants and told them the dream. "See if there is a Jew in this inn," he commanded.
Shortly they returned and told him that yes, one Jew was staying in the inn. The wealthy landowner approached the Jew and began speaking with him. He inquired if he had bought a lottery ticket. When the answer was in the affirmative, he offered to pay the Jew for it plus an extra five rubbles as a token of gratitude. The Jew refused the offer.
The land owner upped the offer to ten rubbles, but still the Jew refused the offer. Then he continued to raise the offer till it reached a hundred rubbles, yet the Jew refused. Finally after reaching a thousand rubbles, the land owner lost his temper and signaled to his servants to grab the Jew and search him.
While two large and mean servants grabbed the frightened Jew, a third one reached his hand into the pocket of the Jew and pulled out his lottery ticket. He passed it over to his master, the cruel and smiling land owner. The land owner sneered at the Jew. "Here is a thousand rubles and my ticket, you foolish Jew, consider yourself lucky that I did not have your arms and legs broken for your insubordination."
The two servants threw the Jew down and followed their master out. They boarded their carriage and drove away leaving a sobbing couple in a state of despair.
"Oh, what will we do now?" the wife lamented. "The precious ticket of the tzaddik is gone. "Our chances for paying off our debts is gone. Our lives are ruined!"
"Well, at least we have a thousand rubbles,." consoled the Jew to his wife. "We can begin to pay off our debts, and perhaps begin again."
And so the Jew and his wife trudged off, richer, but sadder than they had been. They used the thousand rubbles to pay off their debts and to try to start another business. Weeks came and went. The state lottery came and announcements were posted in each village. The sad Jew felt that his opportunity for prosperity came and went. He approached the poster and read the lucky number.
It took a few minutes for it to sink in; the magic number with all of the seven's - it wasn't there! The Jew was astounded! He stood looking at the poster in disbelief. The magic number wasn't there; it was incredible.
He stumbled home dumb founded. He told his wife that the magic number was not there. She, too, was astounded. Incredible. Neither of them could understand what had happened. They were so certain that their special number would win. What had gone wrong?
They went back again to check the number at the poster. "What was the number that was on the ticket?" she asked her husband. He reached into his pocket and drew out the ticket. As he read the number to his wife she glanced up at the board, her eyes popped open and she exclaimed, "That is the winning number!"
Unbelieving, he rechecked and double checked his ticket against the number that was on the poster. She was correct; he had the winning number.
Needless to say, they collected their money. The land owner was truly upset, but could not do anything about it. The blessing of the tzaddik came true.
We have a tendency to want life to go according to our understanding. Often we have a conception as to how things are to be, how the world should be run, to the point that we expect G-d to do certain things in accordance to our actions.
The truth of the matter is that G-d does not follow our plans and desires. Rather, it is for us to have faith that G-d knows how to run the world. It is for us to accept his running of the world.
Each person who passes through this world has his job to do. In heaven, much of what each person is to receive has been declared. However, through sin much can be lost. A tzaddik through his prayers can open the spiritual channels that allow that which is destined to descend to come to the individual. The difficult part is finding such a tzaddik, for they are very few and generally hidden in our generations. But perhaps more important than finding a tzaddik is not cracking up under what seems the worst possible luck that has come our way!
from the January 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine