1806, Rothschild Mansion

A beggar in tattered clothing made his way toward the massive, beautiful house inside the Judengasse of Frankfurt. He knocked on the tall oak doors and waited.

“Guten Morgen. Good morning,” a butler said as he swung the door open. “Hier zu sehen Baron Rothschild? Are you here to see Baron Rothschild?”

“Ja, yes,” the beggar replied nervously. “Please.”

“Come right in,” the butler said.

The beggar stared in shock at the long beautiful hallway before him. Mud dripped from his tattered shoes over the glittering marble floor. Golden chandeliers hung from the ceilings and shining suits of armor towered against the walls.

“Here.” The butler gestured to a waiting room off the hallway. Several beggars and charity collectors were already waiting there. “I apologize for the line, but Baron Rothschild is a bit busy today.”

“Danke. Thank you,” the beggar replied, settling himself down on a wide, handsome chair.

The butler disappeared only to reemerge a moment later with a tray of fresh fruit and hot tea for the visitors.

“Shalom aleichem!” One of the other visitors greeted the beggar with a knowing smile. “This must be your first time inside the Rothschild home. Listen, just don’t feel uncomfortable. Some men view us as nuisances, but not Rothschild! He’s a real tzaddik!”

The other men in the room murmured in agreement as they bit into fresh fruit and sipped their teas.

“His wealth is nothing short of a miracle, you know?” whispered an elderly man with sharp eyes, leaning forward in his seat. “Do you know that he is the chief international banker for Prince Wilhelm? It boggles the imagination! A religious Jew working in the top position for the wealthiest man in Europe!”

“The Rothschild family will build a business empire that will control the banks of Europe one day!” another man added. “Mark my words! His wealth and influence are already spreading across the globe!”

“B-but how?” one of the beggars asked, staring at the delicate, expensive teacup in his weathered hands. “From where did such a blessing come from? How did Reb Rothschild receive this miraculous outpouring of blessing from Hashem?”

“There are many stories,” the elderly man piped up, rubbing his hands together. “But no matter which one you hear, they all involve the blessing of a tzaddik.”

“Nu, tell us,” the group urged the older man.

“As you all know, years ago a wicked man named Shabsai Tzvi proclaimed that he was Mashiach,” the old man began. “He was insane, but also very charismatic. Together with a false prophet named Nathan of Gaza, he convinced many Jews across Europe to follow him in his ‘holy mission.’ All of the greatest rabbanim at the time opposed Shabsai Tzvi. Among them was the esteemed Rav Tzvi Ashkenazi, known as the Chacham Tzvi. Supporters of Shabsai Tzvi were furious with Chacham Tzvi for speaking out against their leader and the great sage had to flee his home in Amsterdam.”

“Where did he escape to?” asked one listener breathlessly.

“Here, of course!” The old man chuckled, thoroughly enjoying all of the attention. “He was forced to travel around this city in disguise, lest one of his enemies discover his whereabouts! Then, he arrived with a group of beggars at Rothschild’s home for Shabbos. Reb Mayer Anschel recognized the great Chacham Tzvi, but he didn’t say anything at the table. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 708)