Proper Intent

In a certain town in Europe of old lived a certain Jew, who was both a Torah scholar and G-d fearing, who did the mitzvah of hosting wayfarers in an exemplary fashion. He had opened a special hostel for travelers that was completely free.

Like Avraham our forefather did in his time, he too built the building with entrances on all sides. He appointed assistants to attend to the needs of all his guests so that they can eat, drink and rest as they wished.

The inn soon became famous far and wide and guests began flocking there for some respite to relax their weary bones and regain their energy for the rest of their journeys.

The proprietor did all that he could to make their time in his guesthouse as pleasant as possible. He encouraged them to stay as long as they wished and even gave them donations when they left.

Once, the Bal HaTanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi stayed there on his way to visit his Rebbe in Mezritch. Though he hid his identity, the proprietor recognized that his guest was a distinguished individual. He greeted him with honor and gave him a private room so that his stay there could be as satisfying as can be.

That evening the owner of the hostel knocked on his guest’s door and requested to speak to his guest about a matter that had been troubling him.

The Rebbe gladly encouraged his host to relate to him his troubles and the host said: “Although I do not usually ask to know the identity of my guests, this time I am exceedingly curious who you are.” When the Rabbi Shneur Zalman told him that he was a student of the Magid of Mezritch, the host said; “I have been waiting a long time for people such as yourself to come to my abode as there is an issue that has long been bothering me.”

Rebbe, you see for yourself all that is done in this hostel. I try to do all that I can to improve the lives of my guests. I feel though, that I don’t do any of it with the proper intentions. Rebbe, the man said with a broken heart—what is the point of all my good deeds, if I don’t do any of it truthfully, with all my heart?”

Rabbi Shneur Zalman leaned on his arms for a while in contemplation and then responded in a special tune that he was accustomed to answer questions in: “the pauper though is truthfully satisfied.” Meaning to say that because the outcome is true, the host therefore drew down truth into the world as well and in this merit, it is also considered as if he done the mitzvah truthfully.

When we help another Jew we should be less focused on our intent and more focused on whether or not we are fulfilling our fellow Jew’s needs.

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