Vayakhel: Iyov’s Penny

A line of people wound its way from the door of the holy Baal Shem Tov’s office. Many stood in line to seek advice and blessings from the holy tzaddik...

3 min

Rabbi Tzvi Meir Cohn

Posted on 18.02.22

Parshat VaYakhel
"Take from yourselves a portion for God, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it." (Shemot 35:5)
* * *
A line of people wound its way from the door of the holy Baal Shem Tov’s office. Many stood in line to seek advice and blessings from the holy tzaddik.
One of those who waited was Reb Zissel, a simple man with very little in this world. He humbly asked the Baal Shem Tov for a blessing so that he wouldn’t have to live in poverty and depend on the charity of others.
The Baal Shem Tov listened intently to Reb Zissel's pleading. After a long silence, the Baal Shem Tov said: “I wish to help you, but it is not within my power to do so. Heaven prevents me from granting such a blessing.”
But Reb Zissel was not so easily dissuaded. “Please Rebbe,” cried Reb Zissel, “I have traveled so far and waited so long, isn’t there even the smallest blessing you could grant me?”
The Baal Shem Tov sat quietly for a moment, but could only respond that there was nothing he could do.
Then, suddenly, the Baal Shem Tov stood up and walked over to his bookshelf and removed a sefer (holy book). It was the Talmud Baba Batra. He took a book off the shelf. He opened it at random, looked closely at the open page and read the following words: “He who takes a pruta (penny) from Iyov (Job) will be blessed.”
The Baal Shem Tov turned to Reb Zissel, who stood in respectful silence by the tzaddik's desk. “Reb Zissel, these words have deep meaning: Each Jew has an instinctive desire to help his fellow Jew. That desire is born from the source of his soul, which is an absolute part of God. Just as God created this physical world out of His selfless kindness, so too each Jewish soul desires to bestow that kindness onto others. This statement in the Talmud teaches us that a worthy man, who dispenses charity and kindness to others, has the power to bestow his blessing of success upon the tzedaka (charity) that he gives, as well as to the recipient who will benefit from the gift. Now, let me think, if I know of such a man?”
At that moment the Baal Shem Tov thought of Reb Shabsai Meir, a well known Baal Tzedaka (philanthropist), who lived in the city of Brod. Not only did Reb Shabsai give generous amounts of charity to the needy, but he did so with the sincerest feelings of “Ahavat Yisrael”, of true love for his fellow Jew. And even more so, Reb Shabsai prayed fervently that the Almighty continue to bless him with wealth only so that he could continue to give generously, and that the recipients of his giving would themselves be blessed with wealth and success. The Heavenly court saw Reb Shabsai’s kindness and heard his sincere prayers, and indeed granted all his wishes. As time passed, Reb Shabsai was blessed with increasing wealth, and those who benefited from his kindness also became successful.
The Baal Shem Tov then said to Reb Zissel, “There is one person who can help you. Travel to the city of Brod, and seek out Reb Shabsai Meir. He has the power to help you. Ask him for a donation. The money that leaves his hand is blessed, and it bestows blessing upon all who receive it."
Reb Zissel thanked the Baal Shem Tov and journeyed to Brod. He spent Shabbat with Reb Shabsai and when Shabbat was over, Reb Zissel begged Reb Shabsai for a donation, which Reb Shabsai gave willingly and with a broad smile. Soon after, Reb Zissel departed Brod carrying Reb Shabsai’s donation.
Soon, Reb Zissel circumstances began to improve, and he never again had to depend on the charity of others again.
And so it was.
Tzvi Meir Cohn attended Yeshiva Hadar Hatorah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn after completing his university studies in Engineering and Law. While studying at the Yeshiva, he discovered a deep connection to the stories and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. His many books about the Baal Shem Tov can be found in the Breslev Store. He can be contacted at

Tell us what you think!

Thank you for your comment!

It will be published after approval by the Editor.

Add a Comment

next article

"Please do not ask me these questions,” responded the Baal Shem Tov, “for the time for me to be known in this world has not yet come...