Shlomo Ezagui

What Goes Around Comes Around: Story.

The Talmud often repeats a well-known principle: “In the measure, one creates and measures out life, in that measure, and in that same manner, he is dealt with (by God).”

“There is no righteous person that does good and does not (once in a while) slip.” No human being is perfect; therefore, every human being requires God’s good grace and forgiveness. If we are easily forgiving, God acts with us in the same way.

Before we retire every night and return our souls to God in the hope that we will wake up the following day, we proclaim, “I forgive everyone who has angered me […] and may no one get punished because of me.”

The following is a very inspiring story on this general subject.

In Berdichev lived a man named Hirshel, who was a failure in every business enterprise he attempted.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, he hoped to have a small bite to eat before the fast, but what should his wife have prepared a meal? Instead of even a meager meal, Hirshel received a tongue lashing from his frustrated wife. His stomach gurgled as he trudged to the synagogue, where everything glowed in anticipation of the great day.

A thought entered poor Hirshel’s mind. Maybe Baruch, the wealthy businessman who sat in the first row near the eastern wall, would give him a slight smell of his snuff. That would, perhaps, revive his spirits enough to allow him to pray.

Hirshel approached the front of the synagogue and tapped Baruch on the back. “Shalom Aleichem, Baruch. Maybe I could have a little sniff of your tabak (snuff)?”

Baruch turned with an incredulous look on his face. Who could have the nerve to bother him in his prayers on this holiest of nights to ask for some snuff? When he saw it was Hirshel, the pauper, he just looked at him in disgust and said only one word: “Now?!”

Hirshel turned back to his seat, as humiliated as he had ever been. He thought, “I am not even worth a sniff of Tabak.”

No one witnessed this little episode, but the ministering angels were in an uproar on High. How could the wealthy man have humiliated his poverty-stricken brother like that? It was decreed that things would be radically different in the upcoming year. The wheel of fortune would turn, and Hirshel would be on top for the first time in his life. Baruch, however, would be on the bottom.

And so, right after Yom Kippur, Hirshel received an unexpected inheritance from a deceased relative and invested in some merchandise. Hirshel made an enormous profit and reinvested it. Whatever he set his hand to was successful.

At the same time, Baruch began losing money at every turn. He went to the great Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev Ukraine (1740-1809), who asked him, “Can you think of any dealings you may have had with Hirshel?”

Baruch remembered Yom Kippur when he refused the snuff to Hirshel.

“Because of your actions, it was decreed that you would lose your money and that he would become wealthy.”

Baruch was stricken with remorse. “How can I atone?” he cried.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak said, “It will not be easy. I can only say that if you approach Hirshel and ask for a sniff of snuff and he refuses you, then you will have something to bargain with.”

Hirshel continued to prosper. He was now a respected member of the community, and when his daughter reached marriageable age, she was betrothed to the son of the Rabbi of Zhitomir, Ukraine.

The whole town looked forward to celebrating the grand event. Baruch’s anticipation was perhaps more remarkable than most, for he had a plan to recoup his wealth. As the young couple stood under the wedding canopy surrounded by their happy parents, Baruch quietly came up to Hirshel and said, “A sniff of Tabak?”

Without a thought, Hirshel removed his gilt snuffbox from his coat pocket and handed it to Baruch. Baruch immediately fell to the ground in a dead faint.

When Baruch regained consciousness, Hirshel asked him what the matter with him was.

“Please come with me to someplace where we can speak privately,” replied Baruch. The two men sat down, and Baruch explained everything that had transpired and related the words of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, that Hirshel’s refusal would be his only chance to recoup his wealth. They agreed to go together to the great Tzadik (Godly man) and follow the advice he would give.

The Rabbi listened to the story and said to Hirshel. “Are you willing to share a percentage of your wealth with Baruch?”

Hirshel, considering where all his wealth had come from, decided to divide his fortune with Baruch, and the two lived as close as brothers, in prosperity and health, for the rest of their lives.

Chapter 255

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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