11 Tishrei 5781 / Tuesday, September 29, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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The Journey Home    

The Journey Home

Hashem puts us in this transient world and tells each of us, "I want you to come close to Me. I want a deep, loving relationship with you – don't ever forget your mission…”


Mr. Jones was a Londoner who lived in the early 1900s and was accustomed to comfort and wealth.  One day, his good friend Mr. Smyth told Mr. Jones that there was money to be made in Uganda, Africa.  “West Africa is known for its diamond industry” he advised.  It did not take much thought for Mr. Jones to decide to travel to Uganda.  But traveling was difficult in those days and he had to travel light with only a small amount of money to take along.  In Uganda, he worked tirelessly, searching for precious diamonds when.


Eureka!  One day he came across a cave filled with some of the most exquisite, most rare precious stones and diamonds.  “Thank G-d!” Cried out Mr. Jones whose joy knew no bounds.  He took the large backpack which he bought with him especially for this purpose and filled it up to the top.  The bag was very heavy to carry, but needless to say, it brought Mr. Jones much joy.


Mr. Jones had been in Uganda for a while before he was blessed with this treasure.  He had spent the money that he took with him from London and did not have enough money left to travel back home.  “What do I do now?” he asked himself.  There was no place in Africa to cash in even one of the precious stones for even a small fraction of what they would be worth in London.  With no choice, he grabbed his walking stick and began the long journey home on foot.  Mr. Jones hitchhiked, walked and slept in any place he could find.  He often had to work in menial positions to pay for that night’s room and board.   Sometimes, the only place to lay his head was in a rat-infested shed.  Many times, he would eat scraps and beg for some alms.  He traveled that way through dangerous forests and deserts.  After a month, he reached the coast of North Africa and got a job on a boat traveling for London.  No one bothered to look in his backpack, which sat under dirty clothes that stank after not been washed for a month.  Finally, his long and tiresome journey home ended successfully as his boat docked in London.


After a long arduous journey, Mr. Jones finally arrived in London.  However, upon his arrival Mr. Jones reeked of not bathing and his dirty unlaundered clothes became ragged.  He walked to Mr. Smyth’s London townhouse.  As the butler opened the door he was about to slam it back closed when Mr. Jones screamed: “Tell Mr. Smyth that Mr. Jones has arrived from Uganda!”  After a few minutes the door hesitantly re-opened.  Mr. Smyth was ecstatic to see his old friend.  He immediately ordered his servants to prepare him a bath and prepare the guest room, complete with fresh new clothes fit to Mr. Jones’s measure.  Mr. Jones spent the night telling Mr. Smyth the detailed story of his trip to Uganda, how he found his treasure and how he travelled back home.  The next day Mr. Smyth travelled with Mr. Jones to a very well respected London diamond dealer who paid Mr. Jones a great sum in cash for his treasure.  Overnight, Mr. Jones became one of the wealthiest men not only in London but in the whole of Europe!


That evening, Mr. Jones stayed again at the townhouse of Mr. Smyth before setting out on his new life.  Mr. Smyth turned to him at dinner and said “How did you do it?  I mean, you described how you physically made the trip and your travails.  But what I mean to ask is how did you, a man used to comforts and wealth, live like a homeless person for over a month?  It must have been unbearable!”  “It was not at all easy.” answered Mr. Jones.  “Many times I almost went mad eating so little and sleeping in the most uninhibited places.  Each time, when I felt that I wanted to give up, I would secretly open my large backpack full of diamonds and it would give me the strength to continue on.”


The above story was told by the Chafetz Chaim zt”l to describe our journey in this world.  Hashem puts us in this transient world and tells each of us, "I want you to come close to Me.  I want a deep, loving relationship with you and for you to develop a relationship with your true self - your holy soul (neshama)."  But how do we do it?  Our Sages of blessed memory advise us: toil in Torah study, wake up early and come pray to Hashem.  Do not overindulge in this world. Speak to Hashem in your own words throughout the day.  Make blessings with proper intention thanking Him for everything.  Ask Him for anything that you think you are lacking.  Do not lash back when someone hurts your feelings.  Give yourself over to Hashem and establish an eternal loving mutual relationship.” 


But it’s not always easy.  It’s not always easy to push forward when the entire world is telling us to take it easy, sleep in and indulge.  However, if whenever we need to draw some strength, we remember that there is a very large backpack full of the most precious eternal stones and diamonds (our mitzvot) that we will cash in on when we arrive in Heaven, as long as the journey may seem, it will feel more like a blink of an eye compared to the eternal reward of basking in the light of Hashem after 120.  For after all, it is the mitzvoth themselves that bring us the most amount of joy and will transform our very essence eternally.

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