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Wednesday, Elul 27, 5783 (Hakhel Year) / September 13, 2023


Parables play a very important role in Jewish literature.  Many Torah concepts have been made simpler by our sages through the medium of parables.  A parable transforms an idea from the abstract to reality.  That is why the Midrash constantly uses parables to explain the Torah.


The following parable, by the Magid of Dubna, gives us food for thought at this time of the year, as we take stock of our accomplishments of the year 5783 and make resolutions for the New Year, 5784.


A poor man sat by the ocean, thinking of his family's sad plight.  A ship arrived at the dock and many jubilant sailors descended from the ship.  He inquired about their excitement.  In reply, one of the sailors pulled out of his pocket a handful of precious stones.  "We found an island where diamonds and precious stones were strewn all over the place.  Each of us collected as many diamonds as we could. This is why we are so happy."


"Please tell me how to get there!" the poor man begged.  The sailor described to him the exact location of this wonderful island.  The poor man ran home, sold everything he had, and bought a ticket to the island.  He bade his family farewell, hoping to return one day with great wealth.


After much hardship on the ocean, he finally arrived at the island.  Indeed, the island was full of diamonds.  He decided to buy a big boat, fill it with diamonds and return home a very wealthy man.


He filled his pockets with diamonds and tried to pay for the boat with them.  "We have so many of these stones," the people laughed.  "These have no value here," he was told.   Someone advised him, "There is a certain fish that is a delicacy to the inhabitants of the island.  If you catch enough of these fish, you will be able to save enough money to buy a boat. So, he went about catching this fish. He mastered the art of fishing and developed a very successful business.


After many years, he decided it was time to go home.  He now had enough money to buy a ship.


However, after so many years on the island, he forgot the reason for his original travel to the island.  He too, like everyone else on the island, forgot the value of diamonds and regarded them as cheap stones.  To him, the fish which made him wealthy was the most valuable commodity he could think of.  He loaded the ship with fish and set sail back home.


After weeks of sailing on the ocean he finally made it home. He docked the ship and ran as fast as he could to his family whom he has not seen for so many years.  His wife and children were so happy to see him. He told them how wealthy they would now be, for he brought with him something so valuable...

(To be continued tomorrow)