There once was an innkeeper who employed two assistants, a young boy and girl who happened to be orphans. When they grew a little older, the innkeeper thought that it would be a good idea for them to marry each other, a plan to which they both agreed. As they were very poor and lacked the money to make the wedding and to set up their new home, the kindly innkeeper provided them with a large sum to cover their expenses. The young couple took the money and traveled to a nearby town to make their purchases.

As they approached the village, they heard a loud commotion. As they approached the village, they heard a loud commotion.When they asked the local townspeople what was going on, they were told that a particular family had not paid its rent to the poritz (landowner) for quite some time. As a result, the entire family was being led to prison.

The orphaned bride and groom were overcome with pity. They immediately decided to try to ransom the poor family with the money they had been given, which happened to be the exact amount the family owed the poritz. The grateful family was released, and the young couple returned to their own town. They told the innkeeper that robbers had attacked them on the way to the store and had stolen all the money. The innkeeper then gave them more money to replace what had been stolen.

The date for the wedding was set, and guests from the surrounding area were invited. On the appointed day, just a short time before the chuppah was to take place, a carriage full of unexpected guests arrived. Inside were several Jews of regal and majestic bearing, who were obviously Torah scholars. These were, unbeknownst to anyone, the Baal Shem Tov and some disciples.

Alighting from the carriage, the Baal Shem Tov addressed the groom, although without revealing his own personal identity: “Mazal tov to you, nephew. I am your uncle. I came as soon as I heard you were to be married today.” One of the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples introduced himself as an uncle of the bride. Another explained that he was the groom’s cousin. Each one of the guests presented himself as a relative of the orphaned couple, who came to take part in their simchah. They were received with much joy, for no one had known that these relatives existed.

As “I hereby bequeath to them the poritz’s village!”was the custom of the time, part of the wedding revelry consisted of publicly announcing the gifts that were being bestowed on the newly married couple. When the Baal Shem Tov was asked what he was giving, he replied: “I hereby bequeath to them the poritz’s village!” This announcement caused the celebrants to laugh, for everyone thought he must have had nothing to give, and merely wanted to amuse the bride and groom. One disciple said he was giving the couple another poritz’s mill, a second disciple announced the gift of a different poritz’s river, and yet a third said he was giving a fourth poritz’s forest as a gift. Each announcement drew a ripple of laughter from the happy crowd, all of whom were having a merry time at the wedding celebration.

A short time after the wedding, the kindly innkeeper suggested that the young couple open their own inn in a neighboring village. Again he generously provided them with financial assistance, and helped them set up their own business.

Not long after the inn was opened, the couple was awakened one night by a knock at the door. Standing outside was a gentile peasant, who explained that he was the servant of a very wealthy and powerful landowner. He had been sent on a hunting expedition with the landowner’s son, and unfortunately they met with an accident. The horse pulling the huge winter carriage had slipped and fallen into a deep ravine, dragging the wagon and the young boy inside down into the gully. The horse and wagon were stuck in the snow—could the young innkeeper please help him rescue the child?

The young man immediately threw on his overcoat, reached for this lantern and shovel, and followed the servant off into the night. Together, the two of them managed to free the horse and carriage. The innkeeper carried the half-frozen child back to his house, changed his clothes, gave him warm food and drink to revive him, and put him to bed.

The next morning, the boy was well enough to go home, accompanied by his father’s servant. When they reached the poritz’s estate, they were given the most joyous welcome, for the landowner had sent out a search party to look for the boy, but had met with no success. Relieved by his son’s reappearance, the poritz nonetheless called for a doctor to examine the boy, who pronounced him fit, although weakened by the experience. He ordered that the youth rest in bed for a few weeks to regain his strength.

After the boy had totally recovered, the poritz decided to throw a party to celebrate. He invited many of his fellow landowners, and sought out the young Jew who had saved his son’s life, to invite him to the celebration as well. After the assembled landowners all had more than their share of fine wine, they decided to show their gratitude to the Jew who had been instrumental in the rescue by presenting him with their gifts.

The poritz, Each gave the young orphan the exact gift that had been promised by one of the mysterious guests . . .the father of the boy, got up and announced that he was giving one of his villages (the very village which had been promised by the Baal Shem Tov) to the astonished young man. Another landowner, not wanting to be outdone, stood up and declared that he would give his mill (the specific mill promised by the Baal Shem Tov’s disciple) as a gift. Another presented the young man with the deed to his forest; another, his river. Each gave the young orphan the exact gift that had been promised by one of the mysterious guests who had arrived the day of the wedding. The struggling orphaned couple had now become very wealthy.

This was, of course, the young couple’s just reward for the precious mitzvah of redemption of the prisoners, a deed that the saintly Baal Shem Tov had seen with his holy vision.

[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in Extraordinary Chassidic Tales (volume 1) by Rabbi Rafael Nachman Kahan, as translated from the Hebrew by Basha Majerczyk.]