ombay, India

The seaport of Bombay was particularly busy this morning. Something special was about to occur; you could feel it in the salty air. A gorgeous sun rose over the glistening waters as merchants, fishermen, and seafarers bustled about the busy decks, haggling over prices and striking deals.

Two best friends, extremely wealthy Jewish businessmen, rode through the crowded area in a beautiful white carriage. The name of the taller man was Jeffer. He was a soft-spoken, kindhearted man who had made his fortunes in the silk industry. Sitting beside him with sharp eyes and an alert expression was Djanger. Djanger was a no-nonsense businessman who had used his quick mind and fierce determination to establish himself as a successful jeweler.

“How are you, Djanger?” Jeffer asked his friend as the wagon driver maneuvered their wagon past a group of fishermen tugging a net filled with wet, flopping fish.

“Good,” Djanger replied, folding the hems of his silk robe as droplets from the fish landed onto the carriage.

“Is this the place, sirs?” the wagon driver turned to ask the two wealthy men as he stopped the carriage in front of a giant ship that was docked at the harbor.

“Yes, thank you,” the friends replied, alighting from the carriage.

“How much do we owe you?” Djanger inquired, drawing a pouch of coins from the folds of his robe.

“Three silver coins,” the driver replied, his eyes staring eagerly at the jingling bag of coins in Djanger’s hand.

“Here you are,” Djanger placed exactly three silver coins inside the driver’s sweaty, outstretched palm.

“And this is for my ride.” Jeffer placed three silver coins together with Djanger’s and then added four extra.

“Thank you!” the driver beamed at Jeffer in appreciation.

Jeffer smiled back and watched as the driver pulled his wagon in a circle and rode away.

“You do know he said only three coins, don’t you?” Djanger asked Jeffer as they made their way down the dock.

“Yes, but the poor fellow obviously needs the extra money,” Jeffer answered.

“Everyone can improve their financial lot,” Djanger said. “If he worked a bit harder, perhaps tried harder, then he could turn himself into a rich man like ourselves.”

“I entirely disagree,” Jeffer countered swiftly. “I’m positive he puts in maximum effort already. The only difference between the rich and the poor lies in one factor: if Hashem wants someone to be wealthy then it will be so. But if Hashem wants someone to be poor, there is nothing he can do to change his situation.”

“Here we go again!” Djanger said, stopped and turning to face Jeffer. “We’ve had this same argument for many years now. How many times do I have to tell you? He is poor because he doesn’t work hard enough! I was also poor once, but I changed my lot through blood, sweat, and many tears!” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 717)