Today: A tale from ancient Israel that could change your life.
Jacob was a successful jewelry shop owner in ancient Jerusalem and he built one of the most prosperous businesses in that famed marketplace.
People came from far and wide to shop there and from the time he opened to the time he closed the shop was busy.
When he returned home, he was exhausted, often tense and not a good listener. After dinner, he and his wife Sara would tuck their little boy Aaron into bed.
Six days a week, he devoted himself to his business and on the 7th day, Jacob who was devoutly Jewish immersed himself in the Temple.
Jacob loved his son and meant to spend more time with him but each day was busy and there were many things that had to get done. But childhood waits for no-one and Aaron began to grow up.
For Jacob, without even realizing it the business had become his identity and his measurement of self-worth. What had begun as making a living had become so much more.
Jacob’s father Moshe had been a precious gem dealer and for many years, the long hours of his business meant he had little time for Jacob.
As Moshe grew old, he very profitably sold his business but soon his health began to fail. In his remaining time, he hoped that he and Jacob could become close but Jacob was so busy, he had no time for his dad.
Moshe and Jacob had planned to do many things together. The cities they were going to see, the dinners they were going to share, and the great books: the Torah, the Talmud and all of the other outstanding works and ideas they were going to read and discuss.
They would do these things just as soon as time would allow.
Then one day, as Jacob was waiting on customers, Isaac a family friend rushed into the shop and told Jacob to hurry to his father’s bedside. The old man was dying.
Jacob dropped what he was doing and ran all the way. But it was too late.
By the time he got there, his father had passed away. As Jacob stared at his father, he realized all the things they were going to do together would never be.
Tears streamed down Jacob’s cheeks and he lost track of time. Hours later, when the sun set, he was still sitting there and it occurred to him that for the first time in years, he’d spent the afternoon with his father.
Seeing how sad Jacob was, Isaac put his arm around Jacob’s shoulders and gave him a gentle hug.
Jacob turned to Isaac and in a soft trembling voice he asked, “Why…?” But before he could utter another word, he got choked up and couldn’t finish the question. Then with a deep sigh he fought back tears and the words rushed out, “Why did it take my father’s death to make him a priority?”
Neither man had an answer to that question as they sat silent.
The next day, in Jewish tradition, the family buried Moshe. Again, despite his business obligations Jacob had the time to attend even though it was on short notice.
When Jacob returned to work, he learned his employees had taken good care of everything and his business made money, even though he hadn’t been there.
Jacob carefully considered the painful lesson life had just given him and he discussed his feelings with Sara.
Their son Aaron would soon be 13 years old and would have his Bar Mitzvah, a Jewish ceremony to acknowledge that he was becoming a man.
As Jacob ached for the lost relationship with his father, he asked himself, “Is it too late to become a real father to my son?” To find out, he and Sara spoke with Aaron and they listened to him.
Aaron had developed a life largely independent of his dad, with his own friends and with his own dreams, most of which Jacob was unaware.
But Aaron loved his father and was willing to share his dreams and make a role for his dad if his dad was willing to participate. Jacob was more than willing.
Father and son found the time to go fishing together, found the time to walk together and to share ideas. They found the time as a family to visit distant cities and Jacob was able to offer Aaron his wealth of business knowledge.
Most of all, he was there to listen to Aaron and to guide him through his teenage problems into adulthood. And by being a devoted father, he broke the cycle that Moshe established with him as Moshe’s father had with him through however many generations.
And Jacob had begun to savor life. He now set aside the time for family and friends and he began to appreciate the beauty around him.
As each day drew to a close, often he would sit under a pine tree on a hill overlooking the city and watch all the activity below. Then he’d look up into the blue sky, observe the puffy white clouds as they drifted by and he would watch the sun set in streams of orange light as he relaxed and found peace within himself.
Success Tip of the Week: Like Jacob, have you been too busy to focus on life’s greatest gifts? If so, may I encourage you to learn from his painful experience and not miss out on the lives of the people who are closest to you and all of the other joys life has to offer.
In the next KazanToday: A simple tip that will make you more popular.