Monday, November 23, 2009

The Rewards of Diligence

A certain man once traveled to a far-flung country to make his fortune. He claimed that he knew of a place where they could mine a king’s ransom in valuable gems for a very small investment since such trinkets were fairly common in this distant land.
But he didn’t wish to go alone, so he requested all eligible young men in his city to join him in his adventure. When they heard how far away his destination was, they declined, since they really didn’t want to exert themselves to such an extent. And could they really be sure this man was not mistaken? Who knew what they would really achieve after putting in such Herculean efforts?
Yet there was one young man from their town who agreed to accompany this entrepreneur in his venture and the two went off together. Many years passed while the two off together, presumably digging up jewels.
Of course, one day the two returned. The original businessman who put in all the capital for their project had amassed an immense fortune in jewels. And even his assistant came back a big millionaire. How do you think the other young men felt when they saw the stunning success of this venture? They felt foolish for not putting in the effort which would have made them as rich as their friend. After all, he was from the same town and had no great advantage over them. He had merely taken the opportunity that had come his way since he was willing to work hard.
The Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, told this parable to illustrate to his son that everything really depends on how hard one works. “This parable explains the statement of our sages that the elders lamented, ‘The face of Moshe is like the sun and the face of Yehoshua is like the moon. Oy, such a shame! Oy, such an embarrassment!’ Yehoshua shines like the moon, but he was one of us. The only reason he got ahead was that he never left the tent of Moshe. We could have done the same and attained a similar distinction. Is this not humiliating?”

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