A long time ago, when we lived in Europe, there was a poor Jew. He could
never seem to make a decent
living. At one stage, he and his poverty stricken family had nothing but
debts. They sold their last egg laying
hen to get some money. When that money dwindled down to ten kopeks (a sum
equal to a few dollars) he
decided to speak with a Rabbi for advice. Perhaps he could help him.
The Rabbi listened to him speak with great emotion of his plight, and then
the Rabbi spoke, "Every thing is
from G-d. I will give you my blessing that G-d will help you. Go out, and
with this your last ten kopeks,
buy the first thing that you are able to buy. From this, G-d will send his
Heavenly help, and you will
The man thanked the Rabbi, and left his house. He headed to the village
market place. There the
merchants were selling their wares. He saw a merchant selling beautiful
"Perhaps this is what I should buy," he said to himself.
Approaching the merchant, he inquired, "You have such beautiful jewelry,
sell me something for my ten
"Ten kopeks, you must be mad! For ten kopeks, you can find a rotten potato!
My jewelry is worth
thousands of rubles."
"Well, all I have is ten kopeks, and I want to buy something from you," the
simple farmer told him. "The
Rabbi told me to buy the first thing that I find to buy and G-d will help
me with my problems. What can
you sell me?" The merchant saw that this was a very simple man, and decided
to have a little joke with
him. "I'll tell you my dear friend. I was planning to sell my future claim
in the next world. Perhaps you
would be interested in that?"
Without hesitating, the simple farmer pulled out his last ten kopeks and
gave it to the merchant. The
merchant gleefully took the money and scribbled a bill of sale on a
discarded piece of paper and handed it
to the farmer.
"It's a deal!" The merchant said, and shook the farmer's hand. The farmer
walked off happily, with the
scrap of paper in his hand. The merchant could not contain his mirth and
started laughing. That evening, he
could not wait to tell his wife about making the easy money from the simple
The merchant's wife, however, saw it in a different light. She being of a
more believing nature, became
angry hearing the fact that her husband sold his portion in the next world.
"I'll not live with a man who has
no share in the next world!" She screamed at her husband. "Get out and
don't come back until you have
that piece of paper in your hand!"
The merchant, now terrified by his wife's anger, left the house and went
searching for the simple farmer.
After racing through the narrow alleys of the village, he finally found
him. "Listen, I'm sorry that I took
advantage of you. Let me give you back your ten kopeks and you give me that
piece of paper, OK?"
"No, I'm quite satisfied with the sale. You didn't take any advantage of
me," the farmer replied.
"Listen, let me give you twenty kopeks, really, I feel bad about this
"No, no. It's really fine. I'm not ready to sell yet. I'm sure that I'll
make a lot of money."
The merchant realized that the farmer would not sell cheaply, so he upped
his offer. "My dear friend, let
me make you an offer that you can't refuse. I will give you one hundred
rubles for that piece of paper.
Now that is a very good sum of money. Don't turn my offer down."
The farmer was unimpressed. "I need a thousand rubles to pay off my debts
and start my life anew. If you
will give me that, then I will sell it to you. If, not, then I must be on
The merchant was dismayed, a thousand rubles!!! That is a large sum of
money. But the alternative, his
wife's wrath and refusal to live with him caused him to agree readily to
the farmer's terms.
The merchant quickly ran home with the piece of paper to show his wife. "I
spent one thousand rubles to
buy back this worthless piece of paper that cost ten kopeks. Only for you!"
The wife took the paper and
went to the Rabbi.
"Rabbi," she said, "tell me, my husband sold his portion in the next world
to a farmer who came to you for
advice. He received ten kopeks for it. I made him buy it back or else I
would not live with him. It cost him
one thousand rubles. Please tell me, does my husband have a portion in the
next world and if so what is it
The Rabbi, stroked his white beard and explained, "When your husband was
willing to sell his portion in
the next world for ten kopeks, it was not even worth that. But when he was
willing to buy it back for one
thousand rubles, you should know that it is now worth even more than that."
The worth of our life in this world and the next is determined by how much
we value it.