Thursday, May 29, 2014

Money In The Honey

In honor of the anniversary of the passing of King David on Shavuot, we present this story from his youth.
Once there lived in the Land of Israel a very wealthy Jew. Upon his death, he passed on to his wife all of his great wealth. The widow decided to leave her city in search of a place with less memories. Her main concern before going on her journey, was to find a place where she could safely leave her vast inheritance.
She came upon the idea of hiding her gold coins in earthen containers, which she filled with honey. She then asked one of her late husband's close friends if he would watch over her jars of honey while she was away. The friend was happy to oblige.
Months passed. One day, the friend was preparing a festive meal for his son's forthcoming marriage and they had run out of honey. The friend remembered the honey which had been left in his safekeeping by the widow. "Certainly there can be no harm in my borrowing some of the honey," the friend conjectured. "I will replace it tomorrow," he assured himself.
Imagine the friend's surprise when he dipped a large spoon deep into the honey and it came out with two gold coins stuck to it. Again and again the friend dipped the spoon into the honey, and each time it came up with a small fortune. "No one but the widow and myself know that there is money in these earthen jars," thought the friend. And with that, he emptied the jars of all the gold. The next day he quickly refilled the jars to the very top with the sweet, golden syrup.
A few weeks passed and the widow returned to her home-town. She had found a suitable home in a different village where she was certain she would be able to start a new life for herself. When she asked her husband's friend for the honey jars back he was only too happy to return them to her. She thanked him for having 'guarded' them for her all this time.
The widow hurried home with the jars and, once inside, set out to retrieve the gold coins she had placed there months before. At first, she did not become alarmed when the spoon came up empty. But as the minutes passed, and she did not come up with one gold coin, she became hysterical. She took each jar to the back of the house and poured out the honey. She searched inside the jars but found nothing.
Beside herself with grief, the widow ran to the "friend's" house, only to find that he denied any knowledge of the gold coins. "You left jars of honey in my care and I have returned the exact jars of honey that you gave me."
The widow had no choice but to take him to court. The judge, however, noting that there had been no witnesses to the widow's claims that she had put gold in the jars, could not come to a verdict. He sent the case to a higher court, which eventually referred it to King Saul, himself. King Saul, however, also had no clue as to how to decide the case.
While on a walk in the countryside, the widow began to sob bitterly. A young shepherd noticed her bent and broken figure, and approached to offer his assistance. The widow smiled at this innocent lad, and told him her sad story.
"I have an idea that might help prove that the jars were filled with gold," said young David. 'Go to King Saul, and tell him that David, son of Jesse, would like to come to his court and to help settle this matter.'
The widow was touched at the young boy's sincerity. "My dear child," she said, "I have been sent to the King by the highest court in Israel, for they could not reach a decision. How, then, do you think that you will be able to help me?"
"Certainly G-d will help you. Just maybe, that help is meant to come through a young, simple shepherd such as I," David replied. The woman went to King Saul with David's request.
King Saul was intrigued with the young boy's offer and invited him to come to the court. The "friend" was also summoned to the court. Over and over, the thief swore on all that was holy that he had returned the exact same jars that he had been given.
"What do you say about this, my son?" asked King Saul to the young shepherd.
David asked that one of the jars be brought to him and in this way he would be able to prove the truth in the widow's words. David lifted the jar above his head and smashed it against the floor. He then carefully inspected the shards of pottery that were at his feet. Triumphantly, he help up one piece of the jar and waved it in the air. Stuck to the pottery was a gold coin that had been overlooked by the thief, and the widow.
The thief's evil deed had now been proven. All of Israel heard of the wisdom of the young shepherd, David, who later became one of the greatest kings of the Jewish people and from whom Moshiach is descended.

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