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Hidden Treasure Well Used

Yalkut Shimoni, Ruth 607

There was once a pious man with a righteous wife. When the couple lost all their money, the man found work plowing a field, where he met Elijah the Prophet disguised as an Arab. Elijah said to him, “You have six years of wealth coming to you. Do you want them now or at the end of your life?”

The man said to him, “You are just a conjurer. You have nothing to give me. Please go away and leave me in peace.”

Elijah came back to him again and again. The third time, the pious man said, “Let me consult with my wife.”

He went to his wife and said, “This man has come to me three times to say that I have six years of wealth coming to me. He wants to know when I want them—now or at the end of my life.”

She said, “Tell him to give you the money now.”

He went to tell this to Elijah, who said to him, “Go home. Even before you get to the gate of your front garden, you will see that you have been blessed.”

The couple’s children had been playing in the dirt of their yard, where they found enough money to support their family for six years, so they called their mother. She ran out to tell her husband the good news even before he got to the gate of their house. He immediately thanked G‑d.

What did his wife do? She said to him, “G‑d has been extremely kind to us, giving us all this money. Let’s spend these six years helping others. Maybe then G‑d will give us more.” So they did.

At the end of the six years, Elijah came and said, “The time has come for me to take back what I gave you.”

The pious man said, “When I accepted the money, I consulted with my wife. Now that it’s time to give it back, let me consult with her again.” So he went to her and said, “The man has come to take back what he gave us.”

She told him, “If he can find people who will use the money better than we did, he should take it.”

G‑d knew about all the good things they had done for others while they had wealth and decided to give them even more, as it says in Isaiah (32:17), “The fruit of righteousness will be peace.”

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The Snake in the Wall

The Snake in the Wall – Talmud, Shabbat 156b

Rabbi Akiva had a daughter. But astrologers said to him, “On the day she enters the bridal chamber, a snake will bite her and she will die.”

On the night of her marriage, she removed a brooch and stuck it into the wall. When she pulled it out the following morning, a poisonous snake came trailing after it; the pin had penetrated into the eye of the serpent.

“Was there anything special that you did yesterday?” her father asked her.

“A poor man came to our door in the evening,” she replied. “Everybody was busy at the banquet, and there was none to attend to him. So I took the portion of food which was given to me, and gave it to him.”

Thereupon Rabbi Akiva went out and declared: “Charity delivers from death.1 And not just from an unnatural death, but from death itself.”

The Child and the Slave

Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva: “If your G‑d loves the poor, why doesn’t He feed them?”

Said Rabbi Akiva to him: “So that we should be saved from purgatory (in the merit of the charity we give).”

Said he to him: “On the contrary: for this you deserve to be punished.

“I’ll give you an analogy. This is like a king who got angry at his slave and locked him away in a dungeon, and commanded If your G‑d loves the poor, why doesn’t He feed them?that he not be given to eat or to drink—and a person came along and gave him to eat and to drink. When the king hears of this, is he not angry at that person? And you are called slaves, as it is written (Leviticus 25:55), ‘The children of Israel are My slaves.’”

Said Rabbi Akiva to him: “I’ll give you an analogy.

“This is like a king who got angry at his child and locked him away in a dungeon, and commanded that he not be given to eat or to drink—and a person came along and gave him to eat and to drink. When the king hears of this, does he not reward that person?

“And we are G‑d’s children, as it is written (Deuteronomy 14:1), ‘You are children of the L‑rd your G‑d.’”

Talmud, Bava Batra 10a