Of all the many Hasidic stories appropriate to these Days of Reflection, Evaluation and deep Repentance and Change, one of enormous beauty emphasizes the value of all that is close to us:
"In a small Jewish town – a shtetl - there was a very humble man, Yossele, constantly preoccupied by his lack of resources to support the happy marriage of his four daughters of marriageable age. For weeks, the disturbed father had a recurring dream with an image he'd never seen in real life: a beautiful castle with a large garden, but with only one tree. A voice of enormous authority then called him to order: "Yossele! Go to the castle, dig a hole just in front of the tree, and find the hidden treasure and with it solve your anguish about marrying your daughters well." Every morning, Yossele shared his dream with his wife, more and more convinced that he should find this place. The dream was so intense one night that Yossele decided to go see the castle closest to his shtetl, a building famous for its beauty. He kissed and hugged his beloved daughters and wife, and traveled for two days towards this unknown place.
When he saw the palace for the first time, his heart pounded, and he trembled: This was it! Palace and garden exactly as in the dream, and -- only that one tree. But there were guards, royal guards patrolling it. So that night, with much caution, Yossele sneaked in to dig next to the tree… but after only a few minutes, the guards nabbed him; that was that, with poor old Yossele clapped into the Palace jail. The story reached the King’s ears; intrigued, he ordered his officials to bring the poor Jew to his presence.
Yossele related his dream: the palace, the garden, the tree, the voice... The King burst out laughing: “What a Jewish idiot you are, taken by such foolish dreams! I also have a recurring dream in which I am told that in the house of a Jew in a small town of Jews there is a treasure hidden under a bread oven. Had I been like you, Jew, I should long ago have fallen for this stupidity... Now Jew, leave! I grant you your life, on condition you never again return to this region.” Yossele ran all the way home without stopping, and when he arrived, hugged his wife and his beloved daughters, grabbed a shovel and dug under the bread oven... and there was the treasure where it had always been; right there in his own home!”
The simple message of this fable:
the things most important to us,
those that fill us with happiness and passion,
joy and fullness,
real meaning and significance,
in our home,
in our family,
in our friends,
in our Kehilah,
in our Maccabi.
During this last year and a half, we have been confined to separations and forced distance by a pandemic that refuses to leave us. We have felt more than ever the need to hug our grandparents, grandchildren, parents, siblings and friends... that very same "treasure" that "is waiting for us at home" – that is closest to us. The various confinements imposed for the benefit of our physical health have emphasized how important the people we love are in our lives... How essential is the warmth, the voice and the presence of those who are closest to our hearts.