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'In order to find out the right value, you should know who to ask'

The value of A ring


A rabbinical student came to his rabbi and said: "Rabbi, I have come to tell you that I have decided to stop learning."


"Why? What happened?" exclaimed the rabbi.


"Well, I have realised that I am no good at studying," explained the student. "Everyone keeps telling me that I don't understand, that I have no sense and that studying isn't for me. Even my father told me that he doesn't think I will ever be a scholar. So it would be better for me to stop learning, to start working for a living and to start earning money."


"Well, this is a serious matter," replied the rabbi. "This is not a decision to be made lightly. I would be glad to sit with you and let you know what I think but I have a problem at the moment. I am having dire financial troubles. There is a debt that I must pay within the next few days. Would you be willing to help me obtain the money so that I can help you with your problem?"


"With pleasure, Rabbi!" the student asserted happily.


"In that case," said the rabbi as he removed a ring from his finger, "take this ring and go to the market to sell it. Sell it to the highest bidder, but take care not to sell it for less than ten rubles. It is not worth parting with it for less."


The student took the ring, ran to the market and offered the ring to the first merchant he came across. But the latter was willing to pay only half a ruble at the most. A second merchant agreed to buy the ring for a ruble and a third did not want to buy it at all. The student ran around the market amongst all the merchants in vain until one of them, a kindhearted old man, said to him "Listen son, I will buy the ring from you for five rubles – not because it is worth that, but because I see how badly your rabbi, whom I admire, needs the money. Ten rubles? Nobody will pay that much. The ring is simply not worth that much! Here in the market no merchant can afford to lose money."


The student returned to his rabbi in shame. "Rabbi, I am sorry. Unfortunately I did not succeed. The price that you are asking is high and the merchants in the market know what the ring is worth. Everyone said that it is impossible to get ten rubles for the ring."


"Well, let us make one more attempt," replied the rabbi. "Harness my horse and ride to the next town and look for the jeweler. Tell him that I would like a price estimate for this ring but remember – no matter how much he offers, please do not sell the ring but bring it back to me."


The student put the ring into his coat pocket, harnessed the horse and rode to the next village. He found the jeweler's house, knocked on the door, held out the ring and repeated what the rabbi had said.


"Come in," said the jeweler. "Sit down until I am finished. This could take some time." The jeweler went into his bedchamber, lit a lamp and examined the ring at length in the light with a magnifying glass. He weighed the ring, measured it, cleaned and polished it and he finally turned to the student and said: "You have granted me a great privilege. I have not seen such a beautiful antique ring in many years! Tell your rabbi that if he needs the money now, I can find a buyer who will pay seventy rubles for it. But if he can wait a week or two, I am sure that I will be able to find someone who is willing to buy it for two hundred rubles."


The student galloped back to his rabbi as fast as he could and before he had even reached him he started shouting excitedly: "Rabbi! Rabbi! Seventy – today! Two hundred if you can wait two weeks for the money!"


The rabbi took the ring back, put it on his finger, patted his student's head, leaned towards him and said: "Is it valuable or not? Son, in order to find out the right value, you have to know who to ask."



[Adapted by dr. Ayelet Oettinger, according to "Dejame Que Te Cuente" (Let me Tell You) by Jorge Bukay, Hebrew edition – Keter Publishing, Jerusalem, 2007.]

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