Religious Life

A Treasure Beneath Your Feet – A Weekly Letter From Rabbi Davis – January 11, 2019

Shalom Chaverim,

On our recent trip to Israel, we had a few days of rain. Israel needs the rain, so we couldn’t be too upset that it forced us to alter some of our plans. What for us was a minor inconvenience, was a blessing to farmers… and archaeologists! While we were in Israel, a woman was out taking a walk and stumbled over two 1700 year old roman statues sticking out of the ground. Rain had washed away the top layer of dirt revealing the treasure beneath her feet.

In Israel, this is not a unique story. Practically everywhere you dig, you find archaeological remains. This fact was brought home as we toured Caesarea. There, we learned the story of a farmer who was plowing his field when he hit a series of rocks. An investigation ensued and revealed an ancient Roman amphitheater. And the treasures just keep coming. A few weeks ago, researchers found a cache of 900-year-old gold coins in Caesarea.

Unexcavated portions of the ancient hippodrome.

These events remind me of a story. A poor farmer was busy plowing his field when a disguised Elijah the Prophet approached and said, “My good man, you have six years of wealth coming to you. Do you want the treasure now or at the end of your life?”

The farmer didn’t believe what he was hearing and sent the man away. But Elijah returned again and again. So eventually, the farmer went and sought the opinion of his wife. She told him to take the money now. When the farmer gave Elijah their decision, Elijah said to him, “even before you get to the door of your home, you will find that you’ve been blessed.” And indeed, it was so.

When he arrived home, the farmer found his children in his front yard playing in the dirt. All of a sudden, they found a treasure- enough money to support the family for six years. They immediately thanked God for this good fortune.

After the shock of this good fortune wore off, the couple began imagining what they might do with all the money- build a house, take a trip, buy the finest wine. But being simple, pious and generous people, in the end, they decided to give it away as tzedakah.

At the end of six years, Elijah returned and said, “The time has come for me to take back what I gave you.” They told him that they had given it away to people who needed it more than they did and that if he wanted it back, he’d have to go collect it from all the people they had helped.

The story concludes, God saw all the good they had done for others and blessed them with additional wealth.

We might not be so lucky to stumble across ancient archaeological remains or so fortunate to discover buried treasure beneath our feet. But when we share our blessings, we find that we are rich indeed.

Rabbi Alexander Davis