There once lived a wise and pious teacher in the town of Cordruth. Some thought her a prophet, for she seemed to have a special connection to the Holy One.
One fine day, the teacher gathered her students and announced: “Come, I will show you someone who sincerely and wholeheartedly welcomes guests into his home.”
She asked for a horse and wagon to be prepared for the trip. The wheels of the wagon flew through fields and forests, mountains and valleys. By late afternoon, the teacher and her students arrived at a village, and the wagon came to a halt in front of a small inn.
A man came running out of the inn to greet them. He called out: “Hooray, there are guests! Precious guests!” The innkeeper went over to the travelers and excitedly invited them into his home. “Come, dear folks, come into my home. You can rest up and eat something. You will refresh yourselves, and at the same time bring life to me! It’s not every day that I am so fortunate to have the blessing of welcoming guests.”
While the innkeeper lived modestly, he offered his guests the best rooms and did everything he could to make their stay comfortable. He invited them to a table set with delicious food. He asked the teacher to lead them all in grace before the meal. He himself stood by to serve them.
On the Sabbath they all went together to a nearby city to pray with the local townspeople. The innkeeper packed them all a hearty lunch for the journey. He radiated joy as he fed his guests and bustled around making sure everyone was cared for.
The teacher and her students spent a few more days with the villager, who tended to their needs personally and did everything in his power to make sure they felt at home.
Before leaving, the teacher asked their host if he had any special requests. “My only request is that you pray for me that I merit life in the world to come.” he answered.
“The thing you ask for is dependent upon you,” the wise and pious teacher responded. “But if you want me to bless you, you must come to see me in Cordruth.
And, by the way, I can give you some sound advice. Since in our country there is a shortage of wine, when you come, it would be worthwhile to bring with you 100 barrels of wine of the best kind, so that you can earn a nice profit.”
Time passed, and the students all but forgot about the whole episode. One day, the teacher said to her students, “Today a group of poor people came to our town. Please go and tell them that I am inviting them to my Sabbath meal.”
The students were very surprised to hear this. The local custom was that poor people and passing guests who came to town had all their needs met by a local committee in charge of accommodating wayfarers, who arranged meals and sleeping accommodations. And now the revered teacher was inviting this group to her house personally.
When the poor folk were seated around her table, the teacher turned to one of them and invited him to come sit next to her. “Do you recognize me?” the teacher asked him. “Yes,” the man answered. “I had the merit to host you and your students in my inn.”
The students sitting around the table perked up their ears. “Tell us what happened to you since then,” one of the students asked.
The villager told the following tale: “When your teacher told me to come to visit her in Cordruth and bring 100 barrels of good wine. I firmly believed in her wise words, so I set out to do this. I sold the inn and everything I possessed, and bought 100 barrels of wine. Then I set out on my way.
Toward evening, as we passed through a forest, a big storm broke out and torrents of rain fell. The path was totally sodden with water, and the wagons were unable to move forward. I got off the wagon and left the merchandise with the wagon drivers.
I began searching for a house or inn in which to spend the night. Eventually, I noticed a small light far ahead in the darkness. I went toward the light. Soon I reached a house in the forest. An old man with a flowing beard greeted me at the door. He invited me in.
The house was warm and well-lit, and the old man treated me kindly, and offered me a warm place to sleep. In the morning, after I said my morning prayers, I parted from the regal old man and went back to where I had left my wagons. However, there was no trace of them. It was as if they had vanished into thin air.
At first I was very upset and depressed. However, then I began to think that I don’t have any reason to be. ‘God gave and God took, may the name of God be blessed.’
It is surely all for the good, I decided. I began to walk, and then came upon a group of poor people traveling this way. I traveled with them until I came to Cordruth.” The innkeeper finished his story, and all eyes now focused on their teacher.
“Do you regret that you asked me to be blessed with life in the world to come? Perhaps you would prefer to get all your lost wealth back?” the pious one asked the poor man.
“God forbid!” the man replied without hesitating. “Is the wise teacher suggesting that I give up my share in the world to come in exchange for 100 barrels of wine? Absolutely not, teacher. I am prepared to remain a poor person all my life, traveling from place to place, if only I can merit life in the world to come!”
“Indeed that is what I wanted to hear from you,” the teacher said. “A righteous soul needs to be ready to give up everything for faith in God. You accomplished this, and therefore you will merit life in the world to come.”
A smile of pure happiness spread across the poor man’s face. The teacher continued: “You are thinking that now you will have to wander with your friends for a long time. Well, that is not the case. With the help of God, tomorrow the wagons with the wine that you lost in the forest will arrive here. You will sell them for a nice profit, and you will once again be able to have the blessing of welcoming guests as before.”
Sure enough, the very next day, the wagons arrived as the teacher had said. The innkeeper became wealthy, and continued to host guests with a generous heart.