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The Price of Patience

Antwerp is the European capital of the diamond trade. It also boasts a large and active Jewish community, with an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe for over 30 years, Rabbi Shabtai Slavatitzky.

One of Rabbi Slavatitzky’s closest friends was a wealthy diamond dealer who had learned an important principle from his rabbi: You do not make a significant life decision before asking the Rebbe first.

The businessman sat in his office looking out the window at the teeming streets below. “Type up the contract,” he instructed his secretary. Everything had to be prepared and reviewed meticulously. Only careful attention to detail had gotten him to where he was. An important deal like this, the deal of a lifetime, could not go wrong in a single detail. He had researched, investigated, consulted with experts regarding every detail in the contract. As a final step, he wrote up the details of the business proposition and sent a letter to the Rebbe. Everything was in place, ready to move ahead.

In time, the Rebbe responded to his letter. He blessed the diamond dealer for success in his business, and directed him to think about how much he expected to earn from it, and set aside from this amount 20% for charity.

The businessman did not think twice. Using a calculator, he quickly entered a few figures and wrote out a check for the amount he had estimated. If until now he was sure that this business would be a success, now, with the Rebbe’s blessings, he felt he had a guarantee.

After finalizing the details, the businessman signed the contract with a light heart. Even for someone of his financial standing, this was a large investment, not without risk.

After the deal was closed the businessman left for a vacation in Switzerland, which he had planned for quite some time. A vacation is best enjoyed in a relaxed frame of mind. The businessman was elated at the deal that he had just completed, and the Rebbe’s blessing was icing on the cake. His trust in the Rebbe’s blessing was so great that he was able to take his mind off all his business affairs and unwind completely.

However, a nasty surprise awaited him on his return from Switzerland. This was before the days of laptops and smartphones, which carry your business wherever you go. While he was in Switzerland he had no opportunity to check his business communications. He came home to discover that the price of diamonds had not gone up; in fact they had gone down. In short, he was ruined. Rather than the hefty profits he was expecting, he now faced steep debts.

He lost no time and sat down to write a sharply worded letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He let go of all niceties and did not address the Rebbe as a chassid but as a frustrated businessman. The Rebbe had blessed this deal, and even encouraged him to give tzedakah ahead of time based on projected profits. What happened? In his letter he even used some less than respectful terms. With all due respect to the Rebbe, he felt robbed. His faith in the Rebbe had caused him significant financial loss!

He mailed the letter before he had a chance to cool off. Because of the disrespectful tone he was not expecting an answer. Therefore he was surprised when not long after, an airmail express letter arrived from the United States. He had no acquaintances in the US and knew it could only be from one source—the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

The Rebbe had written, “Where is your Jewish faith and how do you give up home? If you set aside money for tzedakah surely you will earn a profit.”

As difficult as it was for him to avoid reading the dreary financial updates, the businessman made up his mind to wait patiently. After all, the Rebbe’s blessings are always fulfilled, and he himself had benefited from the Rebbe’s blessings in the past.

A week passed, then two. By the time a month had gone by the businessman finally had cause to celebrate. The price of diamonds not only went back up, they took a leap. He earned an even greater profit than he had estimated!

Now he found it difficult to forgive himself for the disrespectful letter he had written to the Rebbe. Naturally he quickly set aside an additional sum of money to give to tzedakah, to reach 20% of his actual profits.



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