Gold and chicken fat
Once upon a time, there was a man who did not see a good future for himself and his family in their hometown. One day he heard from a strange traveler about a faraway island, where all the streets are paved with diamonds, and he decided to try his luck there. After a long and dangerous journey he found that island, and behold! Everything the traveler said was true: all the roads were full of diamonds and gems. Excited, he stuﬀed his pockets full of treasures. Tired and hungry, he booked the most beautiful room at the most luxurious hotel and ordered a regal dinner at the restaurant. At the end of the meal, he called the waiter, and asked for the bill. He gave the waiter one of the precious stones he had collected and told him: “Keep the change!”
The waiter was deeply hurt. Insulted, he said: “What would I do with this stone?” The man said: “This stone is worth a fortune!” The waiter said: “In our land, these stones are worthless. Chicken fat, however, is rare and extremely valuable!”
The man was sad, but then he had a wonderful idea: he started collecting chicken fat, and when he had enough, he returned with it to his hometown. When he alighted from the ship, his friends and relatives asked: “Where are the diamonds?” He answered: “They are worthless there! They’re everywhere, and you can have all you wantofthem. But Ihave brought chicken fat, which is priceless!”
Sasson: The moral I see in this story is that we spend all our earthly life accumulating worldly wealth, while the only thing we can take with us for the world-to-come, which might really grant us eternal happiness there, is the good deeds we’ve done, the good words we’ve uttered, and the good thoughts we’ve had.
Sasson: When we lived in Germany, we had a lady friend named Hanna Ordentlich, who established and ran an orphanage. Once in a while, she would turn to us and ask us to support it, which we gladly did. Moreover, we always asked our friends and people we did business with, to also consider donating to this orphanage, and generally strove to help her in any way possible.
At the Bar/Bat Mitzvah party of our children Isaac and Nannette, Hanna was one of our guests of honor. Before our celebration, we asked the guests not to bring any gifts. We said those who wish, may donate whatever sum they like to Hanna’s charitable orphanage. Everybody liked this suggestion.
We also had another acquaintance, an extremely wealthy German Jew, a childless Holocaust survivor. According to German law, when a person departs the material world without legal heirs, the government may appropriate all his possessions. That wealthy man was, of course, aware of this law.
The celebration day arrived, and the wealthy man was also present. He came up to see me and said: “Sasson! Bravo! That was a wonderful initiative, encouraging people to donate to that orphanage. You know, being childless, when I pass away the government will take hold of all my possessions. So what could be better than supporting that orphanage!”
I was so happy! It felt so good to know I have done well, and encouraged others to do well, too. I also updated Hanna, that beneﬁcent lady, so she would know she should be in touch with the wealthy man.
Time went by. One day I met Ms. Ordentlich and inquired: has a check arrived from the wealthy man?! She laughed and said, “No! I’ve called him a few times, until he ﬁnally said ‘You think it’s so easy, to give away all the money I’ve worked so hard for throughout my life?’ So I let go.”
Later, I heard the man had departed the material world, and it turns out that the government indeed appropriated all his possessions.
A good name that remains when departing the world
Is better than leaving a castle of gold
ﻧﺎم ﻧﯿﮑﻮ ﮔﺮ ﺑﻤﺎﻧﺪ ز آدﻣﯽ
ﺑﻪ ﮐﺰو ﻣﺎﻧﺪ ﺳﺮای زرﻧﮕﺎر