|Art: Vladimir Kush|
"And you say in your heart: "My strength and the power of my hand amassed this wealth for me" [Eikev 8:17]
A wealthy wood merchant approached R' Chaim of Volozhin and told him that he was in danger of losing his entire fortune.
"Why is your fortune at risk?" asked R'Chaim.
The merchant related his story. "I sent a large ship carrying wood to Prussia" he explained. "The Prussian authorities, however, are not allowing my merchandise into their country. They have warned me that should the ship not turn around, they will sink the ship and all of my precious cargo along with it!"
"Do not worry!" responded R' Chaim. "You will see, Hashem's salvation comes in the blink of an eye!"
That same day, the price of wood increased significantly and, to the merchant's good fortune, the Prussian authorities also allowed his ship to enter their country.
The overjoyed merchant ran over to R' Chaim. "Rebbe" he said, "today I have witnessed the hand of Divine Providence! I now realize that the government's unwillingness to allow my ship to enter their country was all for the best. For had it been permitted to enter any earlier, I would have received a lower price for my wood. Hashem saw to it, however, than my ship would not enter Prussia any earlier so that I would reap far greater profits!"
"You now see the difference between a rich man and a poor man" sighed R' Chaim. "A poor man sees Hashem's guiding Hand each and every day. But a rich man, who is certain that his wealth stems from his own abilities and strengths, only notices Hashem's Providence once every few years."
Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein