Matzliach "the Antique Dealer," as he was known, lived long ago in Tunisia. He was a great lover of Torah, though not an outstanding scholar. And, though he was not very rich, he gave charity generously.
He was particularly known in the Jewish community for his special custom
in connection with Shavuot, the festival of the Giving of the Torah.
Every year he invited ten scholars to his home on the first night of
Shavuot. He prepared a fine feast for them, and after the meal they
would recite the special "Tikun" prayers and study Torah the entire
Matzliach started this tradition when, years earlier, he learned of the
custom to stay awake on the first night of Shavuot. At the time, he was
greatly surprised to hear that the night before G-d was to give the
Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai, they did not stay awake! Indeed, they
slept soundly, so that when G-d descended on the mountain early in the
morning, His chosen people were not there! It wasn't that the people
were not eager to receive the Torah, but rather that they wanted to be
well rested and refreshed for the great moment of Divine Revelation.
And so it became the custom of Jews everywhere to make up for this by
staying awake the night of Shavuot, in this way "correcting" what had
happened. In fact, this is what "Tikun" means - correction.
One year when Shavuot approached, Matzliach found himself in a difficult
situation. Business hadn't been good and not only didn't he have money
for his usual feast, but he didn't even have the funds for food and wine
for the holiday. Sadly he told his wife Mazal about his predicament.
"I still have my precious earrings," Mazal said, taking them off and
giving them to him. "Take them to the pawnbroker to get a loan until
Matzliach took the earrings to the pawnbroker and received a tidy sum.
As he was walking home, Matzliach met the chief rabbi of Tunisia, Rabbi Hai Tayeb.
"You saved me a trip," the Rabbi said. "I'm going around collecting for our poor, so they can celebrate Shavuot with joy."
Without hesitation, Matzliach gave the Rabbi the money he had just received from the pawnbroker.
On his way home, as Matzliach wondered what he would tell his wife, he heard his name called.
"His Majesty sent me out to buy a set of antique coffee-cups. I have no
idea where to get them," said one of the servants of the ruler. "But you
are an antique dealer. Get them for me, and you will be amply
"I will try my best," Matzliach promised. The dealer he went to had such
a set and was happy to sell them off cheaply to Matzliach.
Matzliach went to the Royal court and was introduced to the King. "Just
what I wanted," he said. Then he asked how much he owed for the cups.
After hearing the price, the surprised king asked, "That's all you paid
for these precious cups? The ruler of Tunisia is not looking for
bargains. You shall be paid their full value!"
Matzliach left the king's palace with a large sum of money. Walking home, he met the Chief Rabbi again.
"I can now afford to double my donation," Matzliach said happily.
"Thank G-d, we both did well today," the Rabbi said. "Have a happy Shavuot."
Indeed, it was a happy holiday for Matzliach and his wife Mazal. And
what made them happiest was that this year, too, they could observe
their custom of celebrating Tikun-night as before.