Weekly Story: Understanding Hashem’s Ways

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon 

As we are about to enter Rosh Hashanah, I am posting something that I listened to (from Rabbi Wallerstein a”h) while I was recuperating.

As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Rabbi Wallerstein related that he had a close friend who had one the biggest money exchanges in the world. When one entered his business on Wall Street, he would notice close to a hundred employees looking at the numerous screens hanging on the wall flashing the latest value of every currency in the world.

There were four partners, and his friend was one of them. He gave tzedoka with an open and generous hand to every tzedokah organization. He was riding high, until a day in 2020 when England voted to leave the European Union.

At that time, there was so much uncertainty in the financial world that there was a mad run on the money. Almost all of their clients were fearful that all currencies were about to nosedive, and they wanted their investment back in cold cash.

If ten, twenty, or even thirty percent of their clients pull out simultaneously, they had enough capital to cover it. However, when over 80% pulled out on the same day, there was no way to come up with the money.

Although they followed the standard guidelines, they were prosecuted and charged with defrauding their investors.

After the trial they were found guilty and one of the punishments was that they were forbidden to involve themselves in any sort of financial trading.

Since I was close to him, I visited and asked him how he was managing.

He replied in the typical Sephardic tradition, “Hashem gave, Hashem took, may Hashem be blessed.”

I asked him, “I know the Mishna in Berochos says, one has to bless Hashem for the bad as for the good. But how are you dealing emotionally?”

He replied “In 2010 I became a baal teshuva. I just enrolled my children in a yeshiva and although I was working on Wall Street, I was struggling. One day, the man sitting next to me to my right in the office announced that a big financial firm hired him to open their new division of money exchange. They are going to pay triple of what we were receiving from this firm.”

Looking at the thirty of us, he continued, “My entire team will be from those I know at this table.”

“Now I and him were the closest of friends. We went to lunch together and on Sundays our families played together. I was positive that I would be his right-hand assistant and the income would cover the tuition and other bills. Hashem would reward me for my sacrifice of leaving behind my non-religious lifestyle and embracing a life of Torah and mitzvos. The first one he picked was a lady sitting directly across from him, then he chose the man sitting on my left and so it went. At that time, I was positive that he was keeping the best as his last pick and that would be me.  But then he stopped without selecting me, and I was shocked and hurt, Hashem why did you make it that my best friend didn’t choose me?

Six months later was 9/11 and everyone knows what happened then.

The firm that hired them was Fitzgerald and they were located on the 93rd floor, the floor the plane struck. Not one of my former colleagues had a chance. They died instantly.

At that point, I saw that Hashem indeed chose me. He chose me to live!

So now that I lost everything, am I upset at Hashem? Not at all! I am confident that whatever He does to me, is for my own good.”

May everyone be inscribed for a Kesiva Vachasima Tova Lshana Tova Umesuka.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim.  He can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com

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