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Look After Each Other

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The Arizal was once sitting in a field near Tzfas, teaching the secrets of the Torah to a select group of students. Suddenly, he stopped his lecture and declared, “I hear an announcement resounding throughout all the heavens. A decree has been cast upon Tzfas – a huge swarm of locusts will descend upon it and will devour every bit of vegetation – all because of one poor man, Yaakov Eltaratz. His neighbors have not helped him, and he is complaining right now about the ways of Hashem. We must hurry to collect some money and give it to him. Perhaps that will calm the Divine anger.”
Immediately, they pooled their on-hand funds together and sent it with Rabbi Yitzchok HaCohen, who ran to Yaakov’s home, where he found the poor man crying.

“Why are you crying?” asked Rabbi Yitzchok.

“How can I not cry?” moaned Yaakov, “It is not enough that I am poor, but my water jug just broke, and I have no money for another one. So I am crying before Hashem, ‘Ribono shel olam, why must I suffer? Am I a bigger rasha than other people?'”

Amazed at the Arizal’s ruach hakodesh, Rabbi Yitzchok gave Yaakov the money and said, “From now on, avoid complaining about the ways of Hashem. You caused a terrible decree in the heavens!” He then explained how and why he had been sent.

Shocked, Yaakov begged Hashem to forgive his neighbors and rescind the decree.

When Rabbi Yitzchok returned to the field, the Arizal stated, “Because of all of you, the decree has been overturned.” He then continued to teach, as if nothing had happened.

Suddenly, the sky darkened, as a huge cloud of locusts suddenly appeared. The Arizal calmed his frightened students, “Don’t worry! Yaakov has forgiven, and the decree is annulled.”

A powerful wind abruptly sprang up, caught the enormous swarm, and carried it into the sea!

From that day onwards, the people of Tzfas were very careful to provide Yaakov with all his needs. So successful were they that he was able to devote all his time to Torah and grow in learning to such a point that he was eventually appointed Rav of Tripoli!

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