Does Money Mean Wisdom?



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Wisdom and Money

By Nachum Mohl

A Parable

Once upon a time, many years ago, in a small village in Russia, there lived a poor tailor who eked out a living making clothing for the wealthier people in his small town. This poor man worked hard and long for his meager income. He had one son who was, shall we say in a positive tone, not even close to being a genius. But what can one do, life goes on and he was his only son.

It was time of the year for the annual fabric fair in a not too distant large city, where the tailor would go once a year and purchase the fabric that he needed to offer his clients so that they would hire him to make a suit or a dress. This particular year, the poor man was very ill and unable to go to the fair. What could he do? Either he would not have fabric to offer his potential clients, meaning he would probably not make much money in the coming year, or he could explain the situation to his son and have him go to get the fabric.

Having no real choice, he called his son to his bed side. The father began to explain: "I am not a well man and I can not go to the fabric fair in the large city as I have done every year. It is the only fabric fair in the area for the entire year. I always go there and purchase fabric for my clients. If I do not get new and interesting fabric, I will have nothing to offer them and we will most likely starve this coming year."

"I am asking you to take this money," he said pulling out a small sack of coins and bills. "It is my savings, and I normally take it when I go to buy fabric, but what can I do? I am ill and unable to travel. I need your help. You take this money and if you do as I say, we will be saved from starvation."

"The fair is a three day event. All the factories and manufacturers have their wares on display. Go to the big city, find an inexpensive hotel to stay at, buy some food in the market, it is cheap there, and that way you will save money for the fabric. Then take the rest of the money to the fare and go to each different seller and buy a bit of each different type of fabric. I never know what a person will want, so I need a large variety. Some like striped, some like plaid, some like plain, some like dots, some like bright colors, some like dark colors. Buy from each merchant only three yards of each different type of fabric, that way if a client does not like one pattern, I can offer him another pattern, I have both ladies and men come to me for suits and dresses."

The simple son, happy to leave his small village and see a large city, agreed to carry out the mission and assured the father that he would be diligent and bring back fabric that would be desired by all. The father, knowing the foolish nature of his son, sighed and uttered a silent prayer that his son would not fall too short of success. Excitedly, the son hurried to pack what meager clothing he had for the journey.

It was very exciting for the son to travel by wagon to the railroad station. He used to dream about riding on a train and now he found himself on one. He could not constrain his excitement and with great animation he walked up and back in the train, looking at all the various cars and different types of people on the train. He was all so exciting to him.

Soon the train arrived at the large city. The son had never been to such a large metropolitan area as this. There was a gigantic train station with many different types of trains, people walking this way and that; porters with special wagons towing suitcases and small shops selling souvenirs, food, drink, and magazines. He was entranced by the hustle and bustle of the train station and he spent much time wandering around the train station taking in the many interesting aspects of the complex train station with their many different type of locomotives.

Upon leaving the station building he found himself in the downtown business center of the city. Such tall buildings, so big, like he never dreamed of. Fascinated by the large stores and their window displays, the motor cars in the streets, the dress of the people around him, it was not until late at night, that he found himself tired and in need of a place to sleep.

Across the street was a large and dignified hotel. He crossed the street and applied for a room. The desk clerk understanding that this boy was not a man of wealth, asked for the money in advance. The boy reached into the small bag of money that the father gave him and paid the high fare.

Once inside his room, the boy came alive again. Such beautiful furnishings! He had never seen such a beautiful room. Real pictures hung on the wall, a real carpet on the floor. He tried each chair in the room and was amazed; they had real springs! The bed was a dream and soon he, too, was fast asleep, weary from the trip and from sightseeing.

It was late in the morning when he finally woke up. He saw a small door in his room and was amazed to see a indoor toilet! Unbelievable, he thought, and next to it is a faucet with real water, not just cold water, but even hot water! And look, even a bathtub.

The boy filled up the bath with hot water and soaked in the tub enjoying himself until he felt it was time to get something to eat. After dressing, he went downstairs and went to a fancy restaurant a bought a large meal to carry himself through the day. Such great and delicious food, he had never experience in all his days! This trip was an eye-opener for the young man.

Setting out for the fair, he saw a lift bridge in action. Fascinated by the bridge drawing part of itself up and down to let large boats pass, he sat enthralled at the sights that could be beheld in a modern city. As pasted the river bank, he walked though the city park, he gazed at the large statues of military heroes. He stopped to visit the zoo and remained there until closing time.

By the time he arrived at the fair, it had closed for the day. Well, he said to himself, I still have one more day; tomorrow I will come early and get the finest fabric for my father.

Walking back in the direction of his hotel, he passed a bistro that had live entertainment. Live music, singing and the atmosphere of laughter drew him in. There he sat next to some men who were drinking. He was invited to join in the fun, and soon he had drank more alcohol than he could hold, he stumbled to the street and vomited. Dizzy and drunk he found he way to the hotel and collapsed in his bed.

Late the next morning he woke up with a splitting headache. Although he had had a good time drinking, now he was now paying for it with a hangover. Slowly he dressed and came downstairs, looking for something to set his head correct. He ate a small breakfast and then went out for some fresh air. As he sat in the park, he watched as the sun began to move to the west getting ready to set. Suddenly, he remembered that today was the last day of the fair. Sick or not, he must get there to buy some fabric or his father would be extremely angry with him.

He examined his money bag and he realized that he had spent most of the money on his hotel, food and entertainment. He quickly set out on foot for the fair. When he arrived, he was surprised to see that the merchants were closing up.

"Hey, why are you closing so early?" he inquired?

They explained that they had sold their merchandise and it was late, so they were leaving.

"Wait, don't you have any merchandise left for me?"

Most merchants just shook their heads, they had sold out. Buyers came, bought fabric and left little behind. The desperate boy went from merchant to merchant, but all had sold out. Finally he came to one merchant who had some fabric left.

"I have one large roll of red material left, but it is very expensive, you realize. How much money do you have?"

The boy having no experience in the scheming manner of sellers, told him how much he had left in the bag.

"Hmmm," the merchant thought. "It is not much, but, OK, I want to close so I will do you a great favor, you realize, that this merchandise is worth three times what you have, but I have a sore back and don't want to carry it back to my home town. I made plenty of money here at the fair. So, I will be a good fellow and do you a great favor. I will give it all to you for the little money you have there in the bag."

The boy realizing that this could be his last opportunity to acquire much fabric for a token price was happy to give the last of his money to this merchant. He took the large roll of red fabric and went back to the train station to go back home.

It was not long until the boy was at the door of his house. Happy to show the father what he had bought, he told him how he had gotten a really great buy. He opened the roll to impress his father with his great business acumen. The father realizing that the boy had been swindled, that there was nothing that he could do with yards and yards of bright red cloth, and realizing that his foolish son had wasted his life savings on stupidity, he tore his hair out and collapsed into bed with a heart attack, never again being able to work.

However, this was 1917 and Russia was in the midst of a revolution. The Communists disposed of the Czar and proclaimed that everyone should display a red flag to show that they supported the new government (or else, of course). But where was one to find a red flag on such short notice.

There was only one person in the greater area that had large quantities of red fabric, it was the foolish son. He cut it into small rectangle for flags and sold to the anxious citizens who wanted to show their respect for the new government. Since not having a flag was tantamount to showing disrespect for the new government and it was possible to become investigated by secret police, the people rushed to him and paid him high prices for the small bit of red material.

Needless to say, the foolish boy was now and very wealthy man. He bought a fine house, had a motor car and even more, many people respected him and sought his advice in business. Because he was so rich, he was a very cherished and honored person in their eyes.

* * * * *

Being wealthy and being smart are not necessarily related. Whereas the world may admire America, realize, America had it great boost in wealth, not because they were so smart, but because Europe tried very hard to wipe each other our in two devastating world wars. They did their best to totally demolish the other's industry causing both sides a large loss of manpower. America stepped into both wars at the end, when both sides of the confects, were on their economic knees. America floated loans to many counties whose economies were broken in order that they may start anew after the war and reconstruct their economies.

Not only America was unharmed by the war, just the opposite, the lack of goods in Europe was a great stimulus for the American economy. Europe was devastated, no industrial base and sorely lacking in manpower. America had the commodities and the man power; the world became their market and America grew wealthy.

But do not confuse wealth with intelligence. America is the peddler of smut and dope to the world. Hollywood's false glamour has brought family morals to a new low level. Its presidents are elected by simple thinking factory workers, not university professors; the ad man has found his place in America's politics and candidates are packaged and sold.

It is time to realize that proficiency in technology, creating new electronic games and diversions, have nothing to do with telling us what life is really about. Can you name three great living American philosophers? No? Can you name even one? There aren't any.

America has failed itself and the world that it believes that it leads. Since it has such wealth, it believes that it is 'right', but it is not. America, for all the good that it does and possess, is peddling the lowest family values in generations. Homosexuality and promiscuity are rampant in the USA and everyone is afraid to tell America they are wrong.

But they are.

It is time for everyone, especially Jews, to reassert proper family values, both in the home and in the street. It is time to bring our the correctness of our 3500 year heritage which has lasted beyond the glories of forgot nations and popular culture.

* * * * *

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from the January 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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