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Friday
May172019

THE BLESSING OF SHABBOS

“Yaakov, please stay home a bit. Give half an hour to the children. They haven’t seen you all day,” his wife pleaded. But Yaakov, the keys to his taxi in his hand was heading out the door. Moments before the door closed behind him, he said in frustration, “How can you expect me to stay at home? Don’t you know the situation? We are deep in debt! I must use every minute I have to work.”

Until recently, Yaakov was a taxi driver for a company but lately he decided to buy his own taxi and work independently. “Now, I won’t have to give any of the money to the boss. All income will be mine.”

However, for some reason, he wasn’t successful. He borrowed a lot of money in order to buy the taxi and he was unable to pay it back.

He spent entire days driving around. Money did come in but the expenses … The expenses were never-ending! Once, an electrical component broke and then the engine died. Another time, it was a moving violation ticket. Whatever money came in, quickly went out and even left behind debts that there was no way to cover.

Yaakov was feeling stressed and irritable. His wife and children hardly saw him at home. He would show up for a few minutes to eat something or to rest a little and even then, it was hard to talk to him. He was preoccupied with one thing only: paying off his debts.

Weekdays, Shabbos, Yom Tov, he was always at the wheel, but the situation did not improve.

When his wife tried to get him to devote at least part of Shabbos or a Yom Tov to the children, he reacted angrily, “You know that on Shabbos and Yom Tov I earn much more. There is no bus service and the cost of a trip is much higher. That is when I need to go to work! Why don’t you understand this? Don’t you want us to start living in peace?”

His wife would be quiet and sad.

Yaakov had a good friend named Amnon. Amnon was not religious but one day he decided to keep Shabbos. He stuck to his decision despite the laughter of his friends. His taxi was silent and motionless from Friday afternoon until Shabbos was over.

His friends mocked him. “Fool, what’s with this nonsense? You are losing so much money!” But Amnon ignored them. He just smiled and reassured them that, thank G-d, his income was fine.

Indeed, when they collected money for a friend in need, they all found it hard to part with fifty liras but Amnon easily and generously gave 100 liras as though this wasn’t a large sum for him.

One day, Yaakov confided in Amnon about his financial situation. “I urgently need a loan of 1000 liras. Do you have an idea where I can get it?”

Amnon softly said, “I will lend it to you.”

Yaakov stared at him in amazement. “You will lend me 1000 liras? That is a very large sum! You’re kidding, aren’t you?”

“No, not at all. I mean it seriously. I have just one request.”

Yaakov listened tensely.

“Before I make my request, I will tell you a personal story. My son was critically ill. We ran with him from one doctor to another. We were at the best doctors in the field and went to all kinds of alternative practitioners. We did every possible segula and spent money without thinking about it. But our son’s condition deteriorated. I cannot describe to you how emotionally overwrought we were.

“Then one day, as I went up the stairs in my building as I imagined the worst of all, a religious neighbor stopped me. I had no connection with him and would barely say  hello to him.

“‘Yaakov, you look terrible. Did something happen?’

“Believe me, I did not have the energy to respond but he did not give up until he got the information out of me.

“‘I have an idea for you. Please come into my house.’

“I was exhausted by my futile attempts but for some reason I went into his apartment.

“‘In Brooklyn, there is a big rabbi who does wonders. I will give you his address. Send him a letter and request a blessing. I’m telling you, he has helped thousands of people. I personally know many stories.’

“The truth is, I wasn’t hopeful but I did as he suggested and sent a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. A short time later came the answer. The Rebbe told me Shabbos observance, kashrus and tefillin.

“I did not want to stop working on Shabbos because that is when I earn the most, but my wife, who has strong emuna, pressured me and I had no choice.

“What can I tell you … It was just amazing. From the moment I began doing as the Rebbe said, my son started to recover and he improved from one day to the next until he was all better, to the amazement of all the doctors.”

“Nu, so what does that have to do with me?” interrupted Yaakov.

“My request is that you stop working on Shabbos and holidays.”

“But …”

“No buts. I am giving you 1000 liras without guarantors and without signatures and I am relying on you to return it to me when you can.”

“But if I don’t work on Shabbos, there is no way I will be able to repay you!”

Amnon wasn’t flustered. He just presented the fact that despite Yaakov working nonstop, he wasn’t covering his debts. “Who knows, maybe it is because of chillul Shabbos that you aren’t seeing blessing in your work?”

Yaakov did not have many options. He needed the money urgently. He felt forced to give a promise that he would keep Shabbos for half a year and afterward, he would see what happened.

Yaakov saw the blessing of Shabbos immediately. The unexpected expenses that stole all his money stopped. His profits were good and he was able to pay his debts. His financial situation slowly stabilized and he began living in peace and prosperity.

Most importantly, Yaakov changed from being nervous and irritable to calm. He devoted Shabbos to his family, going with his sons to shul and making kiddush and singing Shabbos zemiros.

Observing Shabbos brought light and joy into his home and it was all thanks to the Rebbe.

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