It has been a depressing day.It is cold; it is grey; it is dark; it is November, and most of all, no-one turned up for something into which I had invested a lot of time and hope.
On such occasions, I remember an old Jewish story. It is the story of Isaac the son of Jacob, a Jewish rabbi living near the Polish city of Cracow many years ago. I cannot find this story anywhere, I think I must have heard it on the radio and written it down – if someone can tell me the source I would be glad to know. The story goes like this:
One night Isaac the son of Jacob had a strange dream – he dreamt there was treasure buried under the bridge to the imperial palace in the Czech city of Prague.
“What a strange dream”, thought Isaac to himself when he woke the next day. The next night Isaac the son of Jacob had the same dream: under the bridge to the imperial palace there was treasure buried.
“What a remarkable dream”, thought Isaac to himself the next day, “the same dream two nights in a row”. That night, Isaac the son of Jacob had the same dream for a third time, there was treasure buried under the bridge to the palace in Prague.
Having the same dream three nights in a row clinched the decision in Rabbi Isaac’s mind – he must go to Prague to find this treasure. Prague was many, many miles from Cracow and for an old rabbi it was a long and hard walk.
When he reached Prague he found that the imperial palace was heavily guarded, many of the guards were guarding the bridge – the rabbi knew there was no hope in digging for treasure here.
He was spotted by the captain of the guard. “What are you doing here, old man?” asked the captain.
The rabbi decided he might as well tell the truth. “I had a dream that there was treasure buried under this bridge”.
The captain of the guard roared with laughter, “treasure under the bridge indeed. You silly old man, are you not old enough not to believe in dreams? I myself had a dream last week. I dreamt there was treasure buried in the house of a rabbi called Isaac the son of Jacob. What would you make of that dream, old man?”
Isaac the son of Jacob said nothing. He turned and walked back to his home outside of Cracow. Digging up the floor of his house, he found the treasure of his dreams, enough to Isaac and his family for years to come.
The point of the story is that the thing we most want is often closest to home.
The problem is in finding it.