February 10, 2015
Beis Moshiach in #961, Tzivos Hashem

Moshe relaxed in his executive chair in his office, quite pleased with himself. He sipped a bit from a cup of coffee that was on the desk and had waited a long time for him. The coffee was stone cold but its taste was very sweet. A broad smile spread across his face as he reviewed his numbers. Once again, his stocks had gone up greatly in value. Since he had invested his money last year in these stocks, he had doubled his money!

For those who are not familiar, we will briefly explain stocks. Buying stock means buying some partnership in a company. Each stock has a price which fluctuates (goes up and down) based on the financial state of the company or on what people think the company is worth. As the company’s earnings go up, or if the demand for the stock goes up, the worth of the stock goes up, and all the people who own the stock, profit. But if the worth of the stock goes down, whoever owns the stock loses.

The stock Moshe had bought in Brazil had gone up high in value and he had made a lot of money. “The stock will continue to rise,” said all the newspapers and Moshe bought even more stock in that company.

“In another few days, my brother Yaakov will return from the US. I am looking forward to his return so I can tell him the good news,” thought Moshe.

Moshe was on such a high. He had no idea what an upheaval would take place within the next few minutes.

If he only could, he would pick up the phone and tell his brother of his recent success. The problem was that at the time of this story, 5730/1970, phones were not what they are today. Although he had a phone in his office, the cost of every minute of conversation, especially to the US, was a fortune.

The phone rang.

“Yaakov, good news! Today we earned …”

“Moshe, I cannot talk for long now. I just have an urgent request. Sell the stocks immediately. All of them! Don’t hold on to a single one. Get rid of them as soon as possible.”

“What happened to you? Are you out of your mind? The stock is going up! People are investing all their money in it!”

“Sorry, I have to hang up. I will explain when I come.”

The conversation was over. When every minute costs $10, a respectable amount at that time, it was really impossible to take time to explain.

The receiver fell from Moshe’s hand. He felt dizzy and he leaned heavily into the chair, trying to recover. He had no idea what had come over his brother but having no choice, he listened to his request and quickly sold all the stock they had bought.

What indeed had happened to Yaakov? Why did he make that call from the US to his brother in Brazil and order him to sell the stocks when everyone expected a golden future for the company?

Yaakov, who was in the US at the time, had visited 770 and had yechidus with the Rebbe. He was not a Lubavitcher Chassid and when he walked into the Rebbe’s office he shook the Rebbe’s hand and sat down which is not what Chassidim would do. But his heart burned with a fire of love and faith in the Rebbe. The Rebbe had even referred to him as “my good friend.”

During yechidus, Yaakov spoke to the Rebbe about many things. Among them, he told the Rebbe about the stock in Brazil which was rising sky-high so that people were rushing to buy as much as possible. “What does the Rebbe think about it?” he asked.

“I don’t hold of it,” said the Rebbe.

That was enough for Yaakov. As soon as he left yechidus, he rushed to contact his brother which wasn’t at all easy to do. It took him two hours to find a phone! After dialing, he reached an operator who transferred the call and, as mentioned before, every minute was very expensive.

But these difficulties did not deter him. Nor did his brother’s dismay which he had anticipated. If the Rebbe said so, there was no doubt about it, even if the reality looked the opposite.

Yaakov did not just act to sell his own shares of the stock. He felt responsible toward every Jew who bought the stock and he decided to publicize what the Rebbe told him to whoever he knew was involved.

As soon as he returned to Brazil he went from house to house and repeated what the Rebbe told him. “Hurry and sell your stock,” he warned everyone. “The Rebbe says it’s not worthwhile. Protect your money and listen to the Rebbe,” he said with utter confidence. The Chassidim who heard this were very surprised but they took him seriously and sold their stock.

Among the Chassidim was one person who bought the stock with nearly all of his money. This Chassid was opinionated and what Yaakov said did not make sense to him.

“Are you sure that is what the Rebbe said? It’s not possible. If that was the Rebbe’s opinion he would tell me.”

“I am 100% sure,” said Yaakov.

“Please repeat to me exactly what the Rebbe said,” asked the Chassid skeptically.

Yaakov repeated it. “I told the Rebbe about the stock in Brazil and asked his opinion. The Rebbe said, ‘I don’t hold of it.’”

“Ah, well, no doubt that’s a personal instruction for you, because if it was meant for me too, the Rebbe would have told me.”

Yaakov’s enthusiasm was cooled off somewhat but he worked to strengthen his emuna in the Rebbe and continued telling his friends.

A short time passed and what the Rebbe had told him was shown to be on the mark. The stock plummeted and people who had invested all their money remained without anything!

That Chassid who did not listen was very upset. “How could the Rebbe not have told me about it?” he asked himself over and over. He immediately ordered a ticket and took the first plane to New York.

When he arrived at 770 he asked for an urgent meeting with the Rebbe. Usually, the waiting time was a few months but he managed to convince the secretaries of the urgency of the matter and they gave him an appointment.

He shed tears as he told the Rebbe what had happened. He sadly asked, “Why didn’t the Rebbe tell me?”

The Rebbe became serious and said, “I think I told you …”

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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