Chassidic master Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin presided over a “court” famed for its opulence and splendor. Everything about the Rebbe, from his stately mansion to his luxurious coach, bespoke royalty.
A wealthy merchant once challenged him: “Where are the saintly tzaddikimof previous generations who subsisted on bread and water and distributed the remainder of their income to charity? Is it proper for a man who is supported by the community to ride in a coach pulled by four white horses?”
Replied Rabbi Israel: “There are three types of individuals who come to a Rebbe. There are those who come to him with an aching soul, seeking his counsel and aid in their service of G-d. Others come to ask that he pray for their health, prosperity and other material matters. Finally, there are the wealthy men who come only to revel in their wealth as evidenced by the size of their contribution.
“The money given by those who come for spiritual reasons, the Rebbe uses for his charitable works. The money contributed by those enlisting the Rebbe’s aid in material matters goes to support the Rebbe’s material needs. And what does the Rebbe do with the money given by the rich to exhibit their wealth? He buys beautiful horses.”
Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber