The Fitting Reward
By Eli Kornblau
An elderly man, not feeling well, staggered into his house. Overcome
with his sudden and drastic illness, he left the door open as
he tried to quickly reach his phone. Collapsing on the floor of
his home he was overcome with chest and head pains. The house
swirled around him. He felt nauseousness quell in his throat.
The phone, only several feet away, seemed inaccessible; to transverse
the distance was like bridging the Grand Canyon. He needed help
quickly, yet he was unable to move due to the incessant pain.
A few moments later, a toddler appeared at the doorway and wandered
in. He stood puzzled seeing a grown man lying on the floor groaning.
The man saw the three year old boy. "Please" he whispered,
"pick up the phone."
The little tyke turned and walked to the telephone and lifted
the receiver. "Good," the man whispered, " Now
dial this number" and he began to give the emergency phone
number, one number at a time. With each number the man whispered,
the boy pushed the correct number.
The sound of the emergency operator's voice could be heard. "Tell
her that a man is criticaly ill and to send an ambulance,"
he said in a forced whisper.
The little boy carried out the man's instructions. The man with
his last ounce of energy, slowly said the address and the boy
related the address to the emergency operator. Then the man closed
his eyes and lost consciousness. The little boy hung up the phone
and seeing the man sleeping wandered out of the house as unobtrusively
as he wandered in.
Several days later the man opened his eyes. His head pained him.
He saw the sterile white walls of the hospital. A nurse and doctor
were at his side. "How do you feel?" they asked him.
Weakly he answered that his head hurt him. They assured him that
he would soon be fine. "We had to perform an emergency operation
on you, but you were fortunate. Had we seen you an hour later,
you would not be alive." The man related the story of the
small strange boy that saved his life. "Well, if you ever
see that tyke again, you should give him an ample reward, he certainly
saved your life."
After recuperation, the man was released from the hospital. With
a heart filled with gratitude, he vowed to repay that little fellow
in a most generous manner. He decided to purchase ten large gold
coins and give them to that boy as a token of his appreciation.
He went to a rare coin store and bought the coins, each worth
over five hundred dollars. He put them in a small pouch which
he carried with him every day as he went out on his daily walk.
Each day he would look in a different park or playground for the
boy who saved his life. After many days of searching, he came
upon him at the lakeside park playground. Overcome with emotion,
the man burst into tears as he approached the toddler. With tears
streaming down his cheeks in appreciation, he lifted up the startled
toddler and gave him a big kiss. "You saved my life. I will
never forget you. Here, take this present as a token of my appreciation."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the sack of gold coins.
In his other pocket he took out a large chocolate bar and handed
that to him as well. The man started crying intensely and was
so overcome with emotion that he felt it necessary to leave. He
gave the boy a parting kiss and disappeared.
The small boy opened the sack containing the ten gold coins. He
did not know what they were. They reminded him of the smooth circular
stones that the older boys used to throw towards the water. Each
boy would spin the stone to make it skim and skip over the surface
of the water to see how many times it would skip until it would
eventually sink into the dark depths. The little boy took out
the first coin and through it with a spinning motion. It skipped
two times over the water before it sank.
He took the next one and threw it too. It skipped three times
before it sank. And so it was, he threw all of the gold coins
into the water, playing the game that he had seen the big boys
play.. After he finished throwing all of the coins he took his
chocolate candy bar home and showed his mother.
"A nice man gave me this" he showed his mother proudly
the candy bar. The mother eyed the candy bar and smiled, "Isn't
some man very nice?" And until the child grew up he never
knew the fortune he threw into the lake.
How much wiser would that man had been had he just put the gold
coins into a bank account until the toddler matured. Then he could
have appreciated the reward properly.
We, also, are like that child. G-d gives us several commandments
to carry out. What do we want? We, of course would like to see
some reward in this world. Why not? A better income, better health
for us and our family, etc. But if we accepted this as a reward,
we would be happy now, but when we reach the next world and we
will realize really how precious a commandment from G-d is then
we would be disappointed to see that we accepted a mere token
payment in physical goods instead of the true spiritual worth.
But, don't worry, G-d is smarter than we are, and he holds the
big reward for later.
We are souls lost inside bodies. The body only understands the
physical; the soul the spiritual. The real reward for fulfilling
a commandment is a spiritual reward. A reward that can only be
truly appreciated in the next world, the world of pure spiritual
being. To accept a reward for fulfilling a commandment in this
world would be like a child accepting a candy bar and throwing
away the gold. When, after 120 years, we arrive in the next world,
then we will have quite a bit of spiritual "gold" to
from theNovember 1998Edition of the Jewish Magazine