This Way to the Treasure

A man once dreamed that there was a great treasure under a bridge in Vienna. He traveled to Vienna and stood near the bridge, trying to figure out what to do. He did not dare search for the treasure by day, because of the many people who were there.

An officer passed by and asked, “What are you doing, standing here and contemplating?” The man decided that it would be best to tell the whole story and ask for help, hoping that [the officer] would share the treasure with him. He told the officer the entire story.

The officer replied, “A Jew is concerned only with dreams! I also had a dream, and I also saw a treasure. It was in a small house, under the cellar.”

In relating his dream, the officer accurately described the man’s city and house. The man rushed home, dug under his cellar, and found the treasure. He said, “Now I know that I had the treasure all along. But in order to find it, I had to travel to Vienna” (Rebbe Nachman’s Parables, “The Treasure”).

I have always enjoyed this fascinating parable and find that it truly describes the nature of our people. We each possess an amazing treasure whose incredible preciousness constantly gnaws at us. Often we misinterpret this subconscious yearning to finally discover our treasure. We confuse it with making lots of money, or seeking great honor, but it never goes away. It chases us to Vienna…

While in Vienna, the man was so certain of discovering his sought-after treasure that he would not dare retrieve it in broad daylight. This led him to include the officer on his “team.” But the officer also had a dream, a very different dream. In the officer’s dream, the man’s treasure was buried right under his own house.

The officer represents the Tzaddik. We come to him misguided, thinking that something really big is waiting for us as the result of some other passionate pursuit of ours. However, the Tzaddik knows us for what we really are. He teaches us that this is really our neshamah (soul) calling for true meaning, and he sends us home! Our treasure was waiting for us the entire time right underneath our doorstep. Many times, it’s necessary to run halfway across the world before we realize that we have overlooked the most obvious of answers. Life is a journey, but by finding the Tzaddik, we will be pointed in the correct direction.

This week’s parashah states, “You should place these words of Mine on your hearts” (Deuteronomy 11:18).

The Hebrew word ve-SaMtem (you should place) is similar to SaM (potion). Our Sages interpret this to mean that the words of the Torah have two possible potentials: either as a potion of healing and life, or a potion of death (Yoma 72b). They are teaching us that even something which is the source of ultimate spirituality can cause death. This is truly shocking! So many of us think that Torah is Torah, and no matter what, it can only help and do no harm. This is very wrong. There are times when certain Torah teachings can actually be harmful. One such example is when a person studies with the intention of finding the Torah “gems” associated with someone else’s neshamah.

The verse tells us to place these words on our hearts. We are all unique individuals; we all must find our way and our own unique interpretation and personal message in the Torah. When we study with the Tzaddik as our teacher, and heed his voice, we will be directed to find our individual treasure and personal understanding of the Torah.

A Gutn Shabbos! Shabbat Shalom!

Author: Yossi Katz

Yossi Katz currently lives in Lakewood, NJ where he runs the BRI American Office. He studied in Beth Medrash Gevoha, as well as the former Breslov Kollel of Lakewood headed by Rabbi Shlomo Goldman.

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