The Banker from Odessa - Jewish Outlook

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The Banker from Odessa

In Odessa, there was a Yid [Jew], a banker. He was a little bit religious, the way assimilated Jews lived in those days. He had a bank, and he was very rich, but he was a little bit connected to Yiddishkeit.

One day his accountant brought him all the account books. He looks at the books and he sees one thing: Unless I have two million rubles in four days, I am bankrupt.

Today when people are bankrupt, do you know what they do? First thing, they go to Switzerland, and send a letter to all the people to whom they owe money: “I wish you were here.” What is declaring bankruptcy today? It is a joke. You declare bankruptcy, and you never pay the people back. In those days, in Russia, if you became bankrupt, you were on the next train to Siberia. Heavy. Heavy, heavy.

So it was clear to him: “The first thing I am going to do after four days if I cannot get the two million rubbles together, is, I am going to commit suicide. I don’t want to go through being in Siberia, and I can’t go through this whole thing.”

So he went to a pharmacy and bought himself some real heavy drugs, poison. But then he thought, “Where should I commit suicide? At home? I have little children. I don’t want to do it there.” So he decided, “I will do it in shul [synagogue].”

He went to shul, and you know, today a shul has siddurim [prayer books], in those days, the shul also had sforim [holy books], and there were mamash Shasim [books of Talmud]. He put the poison under a sefer [holy book] on the highest shelf. He waited four days. He tried everything. Mamash, he thought he had good credit, but he didn’t get a penny. On the fourth night, it was clear to him, “Tomorrow morning they will find out that I am bankrupt; I am going to commit suicide.”

He went to shul. In those days, approximately one hundred and fifty years ago, there were no electric lights, just little candles. He put a candle on the table, and reached out his hand to get the poison. He was shaking so much that a lot of books fell down. Nebech.

Rebbe Nachman’s sefer, Likutei Moharan, in the first printing, there is an entire page that says, “Rebbe Nachman says: Yidden, don’t ever give up.”

When the sefer fell down, and he went to pick it up. He bent down and he saw; Rebbe Nachman says: Don’t ever give up.

So it was mamash clear; what a message before you want to commit suicide! So you know what he did? He took that sefer, put the candle on the table, and just looked at the page all night long. He said, “Rebono Shel Olam, if you send me this message, I am begging you, Rebono Shel Olam, don’t disappoint me. I am not committing suicide tonight, so please let there be a miracle tomorrow.”

In short, for five days, every day, when he was in his office, every time there was a knock on the door, he was sure it was the police. But nothing happened. For five nights, every night he was sitting in the shul all night long, looking at this page.

On the fifth day he got a letter from a bank in Amsterdam, and they wrote to him, “Please forgive us a thousand times. Ten years ago we took a loan from you for two million rubles. We completely forgot to pay it back, and we just found in our books that we never paid it back. We are sending it to you now.” Gevalt.

So that night he goes back to the beis medrash [synagogue study hall], and takes the book again. Then he thinks, “I don’t even know who wrote this book.” So he sees; Heilege [holy] Rebbe Nachman, grandson of the Bal Shem Tov. And then he opens the book. He knew Hebrew well. He opened the book to the first torah teaching, “Ashrie Temimei Derech. You have to put in your koach [strength] into davening [praying].” He thought, “Ahh, this is so beautiful, so beautiful.”

This was the first night that he was a little bit relaxed, and he fell asleep over the sefer. In his dream he saw a young man, about thirty five, or thirty six years old, who said to him, “I want you to know, my name is Nachman from Breslev, and I am the one who wrote this book.”

Rebbe Nachman, nebech, (we should all live long), he passed away when he was thirty nine years old. Rebbe Nachman did not have a long beard; he had a little beard, and peyos [side-locks]. The Heilege Rishner also did not have a long beard: he had little beard, and long peyos.

And you know, before Rebbe Nachman passed away, he was yelling at the top of his lungs, “Yidden, nisht kin miyaesh, don’t give up.”

And Rebbe Nachman said to him in the dream, “I want you to know, before I left the world, when I yelled, ‘Yidden, don’t give up,’ I was thinking of you.” Unbelievable.

The banker, in his dream, says, “So what should I do now?”

Rebbe Nachman answers, “I’ll tell you what you have to do now; I want you to sell your bank. You have enough money to live in Eretz Yisrael [Israel]. I want you to go to Eretz Yisrael, and I want you to print my book in Eretz Yisrael.”

I just want you to know that I met an old Breslover Chossid in Yerushalayim, who was nearly a hundred years old, and he was a talmid [student] of this Jewish Banker. Unbelievable. He was the first one to print Likutei Moharan in Eretz Yisrael. And he was a talmid of this Yid. I met him in a beis medrash in Yerushalayim.



Daily Torah Quote

Joke of the day

The Ropshitzer Rebbe was famous for his sense of humor.

Once one of his followers asked him, “What is the reason for your custom to dress in only white cotton clothes?”

The Ropshitzer Rebbe said, “I cannot reveal this to you now. You must first prepare yourself. Immerse yourself in the ritual bath eighteen times every day. After three weeks come to me and I will reveal the reason to you.”

The follower did exactly as the Rebbe ordered, and after three weeks time he proudly went to the Rebbe.

“I did all that you asked,” said the follower. “Please reveal to me the secret.”

The Rebbe said, “Because it is cheaper.”

The follower was confounded: “What? Because it’s cheaper? Why did I have to immerse eighteen times a day for three weeks? Why couldn’t you just tell me?”

The Rebbe answered, “If I would have just told you, then you would have just told someone else, and he would have told someone else, and so on…. And before you know it the price would go up.”