A villager came to Reb Yitzchak Aizik of Zhidachov for advice. His local squire was prepared to give him the lease on his inn, which would provide him with a highway used by the dealers in oxen. It had one drawback: since there was no water there for their livestock, they had to make a long detour via a different road. If only water were to be found near this inn, he would be a prosperous man. What should he do?

“Take the lease,” advised the rebbe, “and start digging a well there. When you have dug a few feet, come to me for a Shabbat.”

The villager did just this, and when he came to Zhidachov for Shabbat, the rebbe told him to dig a little deeper, then write the following words on a slip of paper, The servants of Isaac dug a well, and they came and told him, “We have found water”, (Gen. 26:32) and throw it into the well. The innkeeper followed these instructions, and the well immediately filled with spring water...

The innkeeper followed these instructions, and the well immediately filled with spring water, to the delight of the passing gentile merchants. He began to grow rich, because he had taken the lease on this unwanted inn at a very cheap rate.

Now another Jew went along to the squire, and pointed out that he was not earning as much as could be expected on his lease, considering how much the present tenant was obviously prospering; in fact, he could better the offer. In a word, the first leaseholder found himself soon displaced and without any means of income. He set out at once for Zhidachov, and told his rebbe his tale of woe.

“This time,” said Reb Yitzchak Aizik, “these are the words which you should write on the note which you are to throw into the well: All the wells which his father’s servants had dug, the Philistines stopped them up, and filled with earth(ibid. v. 15).

The villager did as he was told. The well dried up, and the disappointed gentiles went to the squire with a complaint: he had leased this concern to a new tenant—but, for some reason, the water supply had expired with the first lease.

The squire called back the first tenant, but when he proposed that they renew their former arrangement, the tenant stipulated that he would first have to consult his rebbe.

Reb Yitzchak Aizik advised him to agree only if the terms were the same as heretofore, and told him that the slip of paper which he should throw into the well this time should bear these words: They dug another well, and did not quarrel over it; and he called that place Rechovot, saying, “For now G‑d has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land” (ibid. v. 22).

The squire agreed to the earlier terms, the Jew threw in his note, and the spring came back to life. And that same inn on the highway provided a respectable livelihood for the man, and his children, and his children’s children—without any unfair interference—for many long years thereafter.

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Sippurei Chassidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin, and supplemented from other oral sources.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Yitzchak Aizik of Zhidachov (1804–30 Adar I 1872) was a descendant of the Tosefot Yom Tov (Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, 1579–1654), and the nephew and successor of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch of Zhidachov. He was a major scholar as well as a chassidic rebbe, who authored commentaries on the Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah. His thousands of followers included some of the leading scholars and rabbis of the generation. His four sons were all considered tzaddikim, including the first rebbe of the Komarna dynasty.

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