Once upon a time a ship carrying merchants and merchandise sailed over the sea, and among the passengers was a great scholar. The merchants began to converse about the wares which they carried with them, and what they intended to buy. Finally they asked the scholar what merchandise he had, and he answered: I carry all my goods with me.” The merchants searched the whole ship for his wares, for they thought that he had precious stones, but they could find nothing. So they jeered at him and said that he had no merchandise at all. The scholar replied: “Why are you laughing at me? The goods which I carry are of greater value than any which you have in the ship’s hold.”
As they continued traveling on the high seas, they were attacked by pirates, who robbed them of all the merchandise which they had in the ship. When they landed, they found themselves quite poor and had nothing to eat or drink or any clothes to put on. The scholar, however, went into the town and entered the bet ha-midrash. When the people heard what an important man he was, they at once brought him clothes and gave him a large amount of money. Moreover, the good people of the town followed him out of the city.
When the merchants saw the great honor which was shown to the Jew, they begged his pardon for having laughed at him, and asked him to request the townspeople to give them something to eat so that they might not die of hunger, for he had seen that they had been robbed of their property.
And the scholar replied: “Did I not tell you that my merchandise was more valuable than yours? For you have lost your property, but mine is still with me. Furthermore, one who buys and sells does not always gain, sometimes he gains and sometimes he loses, and even when he gains he is not sure that the profit will remain with him, but the Torah remains forever, in this world and in the next. I was right, therefore, about the goods which I had with me.”
National Jewish Welfare Board. A Book of Jewish Thoughts, p. 221. Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 5703-1943.
“I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Thy precepts, And regard Thy ways. I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.”
The Word of God is indeed a treasure. When a man has the Torah in his heart he can never be poor, but though a man be as wealthy as King Midas, he can possess nothing of value. In the New Testament, the Messiah Jesus is shown to be the Word of God (John 1:1). In Him we become heirs of the riches of the kingdom. He is a treasure which no man can take from us. He is the living Torah and the fulfillment of the promises made by God in Torah.