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Friday
Feb242017

THE REAL TREASURE

One time, a very poor man traveled from his hometown to another town in order to collect donations. The local beggars were nice to him and invited him to join them on their rounds. The poor guest went with his new friends. He collected one coin after another and ate dry slices of bread dipped in water.

As they went from house to house, they arrived at a big house with a beautiful garden surrounding it. Our beggar realized that the richest man in the town lived there. He figured they would get a nice donation and a good meal there. Unfortunately, his friends went past the house and did not even try to knock at the door.

“Why are we passing by this nice house without trying to go in?” he asked his friends.

They explained to the newcomer that the rich man was a miser who hated parting with money. They said that no pauper had ever crossed the threshold of his home.

This upset the poor man. Was it possible that a Jew could be so hard-hearted and forgo the great mitzva of tz’daka? This rich man was pitiful.

At Mincha time, when the beggars gathered to divide the money they had collected and to give maaser, the new beggar announced that the following Shabbos he would be the guest of the rich man.

They looked at him in surprise and some of them even burst out laughing. “It is easier to cross raging rivers than to cross the threshold of the miser,” said one of them. The new beggar ignored their reaction.

“I have a plan but I need your help,” he said.

“What do we need to do?” they asked.

“All you need to do is spread a rumor in town that the new beggar told you in strict confidence that he brought a valuable diamond with him which he found in the forest.”

The beggars agreed to cooperate. The next day, as they made their rounds, they publicized the “secret” about the diamond the size of an egg that the new beggar had brought with him.

By Mincha time, everyone knew about the “secret,” and every woman wished that the lucky beggar would come to her house.

The beggar waited until close to candle lighting time and only then did he go to the rich man’s house. The maid who opened the door shouted, “Get out of here immediately! Don’t you know this isn’t a hotel for beggars?”

But the beggar kept calm and said, “I am a stranger in town and I don’t have a place for Shabbos. I heard that the master of this house has a heart of gold.”

The rich man who was getting ready to go to shul, heard the conversation at the door. He had also heard about the lucky beggar. He made as though he knew nothing about the new beggar in town and angrily said to him, “Why did you come here to disturb my Shabbos peace?”

“G-d forbid,” said the beggar. “I heard that you have a heart of gold and that you only appear gruff … I am a stranger here and I would like to consult with you about something.”

“Oh? What would you like to consult with me about?”

“I need to speak to you privately,” said the beggar.

The rich man took him to his office. “Did you hear something about a beggar who found a treasure?” asked the beggar.

“Yes, I heard that rumor.”

“I am that beggar.”

“Wonderful. Then you’ve come to the right place. There is no greater diamond expert in this town than me, not to mention that there is nobody else who can buy it and pay for it in cash. We will be lighting candles very soon. Stay with me for Shabbos and after Havdala we will sit down and talk.”

The rich man hoped to get a bargain from the beggar, and maybe, thanks to his hospitality, the beggar’s trust in the rich man would increase and he would get an even bigger bargain. He gave the beggar a new suit to wear, had him sit next to him in shul, and was hospitable like he never was before in his life.

He enjoyed talking with his guest, who highly praised Jews and their good character. The beggar highlighted the mitzva of giving tz’daka and doing chesed.

The beggar also said divrei Torah at the Shabbos table and the rich man saw that his guest was no ignoramus and that he was likely more learned than himself. The rich man enjoyed his guest’s company and almost completely forgot about the diamond that he planned on buying from the guest right after Shabbos.

The rich man also noticed a change in shul. The Jews of the town, who generally avoided him, said “Good Shabbos” to him. He was honored with an aliya to the Torah and promised a nice sum of money. He had such a good feeling, the likes of which he had not felt in a long time.

When Shabbos was over, the rich man wanted to get down to business. “What size is the diamond and how much do you want for it?” he asked.

“What diamond?” asked the guest innocently. “I don’t have a diamond.”

“What?! Then you are a faker!”

“G-d forbid,” said the beggar. “Did I tell you that I found a treasure or that I possess a diamond? All I said was that I am the one they spread the rumor about …”

He then added, “The truth is that I did find a treasure, but not of diamonds. I found a far greater treasure, in your Jewish heart. A treasure that until now has been covered over with deep mud.”

The rich man was silent. He remembered the gloomy Shabbasos over the years and this recent joyous Shabbos when the beggar was his guest. He thought, this beggar must be one of those hidden tzaddikim. He warmly shook the beggar’s hand and thanked him warmly for the “treasure” he brought him.

 

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