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I'M ONLY PASSING THROUGHFrom my sefer Trust Me!
The following is a very famous story related about the Chofetz Chaim.
As is well known, the Chofetz Chaim lived a very simple and austere lifestyle. Until he was quite old, the floor in his house wasn't even tiled. The table was not much more than a wooden plank, and instead of chairs there were just some plain benches. Once, a rich Jew visited the revered tzaddik to receive his blessing. As he entered the simple dwelling, he glanced around and saw the plain furnishings. He was shocked to see this eminent and revered personage living under such impoverished circumstances.
"Rabbi," he asked, "how can you live under such conditions? Where is the courtly furniture that befits a person of your stature?"
Smiling gently, the Chofetz Chaim responded by asking a question of his own: "Tell me, where are you staying during your visit here?"
"In the village inn, of course! Where else?"
"I don't understand," replied the Chofetz Chaim, "You are quite wealthy, and must be used to only the best. That inn has only some old broken-down benches. It must be very uncomfortable for you there. Why didn't you bring all of your beautiful furnishings with you?"
"Bring them with me? That's absurd. When a person is traveling, he can't take along everything he owns. Most of his possessions remain at home. He understands that his journey is only temporary, and he lives much more simply."
"That sounds very reasonable," said the Chofetz Chaim - "and now you have the answer to your question. My time in this world is only temporary. I am only passing through on a journey to my ultimate destination. Therefore, I live very simply."
Once the Chofetz Chaim turned to one of the wealthy residents of the city of Charkov, to solicit a donation for an important mitzvah. The man received the Chofetz Chaim warmly, and led him through the main rooms of his home. He had ten rooms, and as they progressed further and further into the interior of the mansion, the furnishings became increasingly more luxurious. Finally, in the tenth room, the most lavish of all, the philanthropist sat down with the Chofetz Chaim, and gave him quite a large check. Even though the Chofetz Chaim's perceptive eyes took in all the grandeur and affluence, he didn't make any mention of what he had seen. However, he noted everything in his memory.
Sometime later, the Chofetz Chaim happened to be in Charkov again, and this time as well he turned to his wealthy acquaintance. This was during the Russian Civil War, and the Communists had taken control of the city. When the Chofetz Chaim arrived at the mansion, he was brought into the second room. The Chofetz Chaim's perceptive eyes discerned that this anteroom now contained all the elegant furniture that he had seen in the opulent tenth room in the interior of the house. The philanthropist again gave a generous donation.
Before leaving, the Chofetz Chaim asked his host why his most luxurious furniture had been moved to the anteroom. "Have you purchased furniture even more elegant than this for the interior living room, and you don't want to show it so as not to arouse jealousy?"
"No," answered his host, with a sad expression on his face. "The story is quite different. When the Communists came to power in our city, they confiscated the furniture from eight of my rooms, and left me only two rooms of furniture. That's why I had to put it in the second anteroom."
As the philanthropist accompanied the Chofetz Chaim out of the house, the Chofetz Chaim turned to him and said, "We have to learn a lesson from everything that happens to us. You should know that people don't put furniture in a corridor. And if you see furniture sitting in a corridor, it is a sign that he considers that his home.
"This world is merely a corridor leading to the World to Come. Only the most essential items are put in a corridor. Therefore, if you see someone adorning this world, that is an indication that he considers this world as his home and his main dwelling. One whose eyes view the World to Come as his real home uses only the necessities of this world and refrains from excessive luxuries."
Shema Yisrael Torah Network