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The Rich Man

adapted by Gedaliah Fleer

from the stories of Rebbe Nachman

There was once a very rich man whose fortune exceeded hundreds of millions of dollars. One day this rich man decided to let others benefit from his wealth. He issued an announcement that anyone desiring to borrow money could come to him as needed. Naturally, many people took him up on his offer and before long he had lent out vast sums of money.

The rich man kept an account of this in a special book in which he wrote down how much each person had borrowed. Once he happened to be glancing through it and something caught his attention. Upon a thorough examination of his records, he realized that he had lent out a great deal of money and not a single person had bothered to pay him back. This caused him great anguish and he began to regret it.

There was one man who had borrowed from the rich man in order to start a business. Unfortunately, the business went bankrupt and he had nothing with which to pay back his debt. Because he was very honest, it bothered him terribly that he couldn't return the money. After long deliberation, he decided that in any case he should at least go to see the rich man and confess what had happened.

He came to the rich man and began to explain how he had borrowed money from him and although it was now time to pay it back, he had lost the entire sum and had no way to get more. But the rich man interrupted him with a sort of laugh, "You're so worried over this little bit of money you've borrowed when actually, it means very little to me whether or not you ever pay it. If you only knew how many millions of dollars people owe me, you'd realize how small your debt is in comparison.

"But since you seem to feel so bad about it and would like some way to pay me back, I have a suggestion. Take this book, in which I have a record of debts, and go to the different people who owe me money. Remind them of their debts and encourage them to pay back the money. If each person pays back even a small portion of what he owes, this will come out to thousands of times more than your entire debt.

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Copyright ©1998 by Gedaliah Fleer.
Used by permission.

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