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Memory and True Value

A very old woman approached a wise man named Jacob and said: “I want to ask you something.  I am going to die soon.  I have a great deal of money.  If you are so smart, why not tell me how I can take it with me?”

“Well?  Well?  What can be carried to the other side?”

“Everything of value” answered Jacob as if this insight was common knowledge.

Her greed excited, the old woman shouted, “How?  How?”

Jacob drew calmer.  “In your memory, he answered.”

“Memory?”  said the woman, dumbstruck at the suggestion.  “Memory can’t carry wealth!

Jacob’s focus seized the woman’s eye.  “That’s only because you have already forgotten what is of value.”

– Adapted from Jacob the Baker: Gentle Wisdom for a Complicated World by Noah ben-Shea (New York: Ballantine, 1989), pp. 54-55.