And Moses, the servant of G‑d, died...

(Deut. 34:1)

Once upon a time there lived a very poor man. All he had was an old mare, a little cart, and a spade. With these he would go out to the hills to dig up sand. He would fill a few sandbags and cart them back to town for sale. It was hard work digging sand and hauling it to town, and the income was small. But the poor man was always cheerful, as long as he could feed his hungry children and bring something for his wife, too.

One day, as the poor man was digging away, his spade struck something hard. "That's the end of the sand," the poor man said to himself, for he thought that he had reached hard rock. Imagine his surprise, when instead of a spadeful of stone he dug up a spadeful of gold nuggets! Clearing the sand away, there was before his eyes a veritable mountain of gold! The poor man could not believe his eyes.

After recovering from his surprise, the poor man emptied his sandbags and filled them with gold, as much as he could carry, not forgetting his poor, underfed mare. "Now, my faithful mare," he said to the beast, "you will be able to retire. No more lugging heavy sandbags for you. You shall rest in comfort, and have all the oats you want. Do you know what oats are? Well, no more dry hay for you. You will be the happiest mare in the town."

As he was saying this to his mare, the poor man thought of his family. Never will they be hungry again! The children will go to school, his wife will be busy taking care of the house, and he will sit and learn all day, and sing G‑d's praises.

When he loaded the gold on his cart, be was afraid to move in broad daylight. People would see that he was not carrying sand; there might be some thieves and robbers. It was not safe to go now, he thought, deciding to wait till nightfall.

In the meantime there was much sorrow in the poor man's home. His wife and children were waiting for him; they were hungry and worried, for the sun had set and he had not come home yet. Now his wife was certain that something terrible had happened to him; perhaps be was buried under a heap of sand, Heaven forbid?

It was growing dark. She lit a tiny lamp and continued to wait, praying to G‑d that her husband be safe.

just then she heard the creaking sound of her husband's cart. Presently, panting heavily, the husband staggered into the house with a bag on his shoulders. He threw the bag down, which, being worn and torn, burst wide open, and golden nuggets scattered all over the floor with a clang.

The wife opened her eyes wide, gasped, gave a sigh and a groan, then collapsed on the floor. The poor woman was dead.

Later the man was asked, "Why is it that when you struck gold, and found so much of it, you did not die of the surprise and shock, while your wife did?"

The man replied, "When I struck gold, I saw a mountain of it, I knew I could not take it all. This thought saddened me, for I could not take it all with me, except the little which my old mare and I could carry. My feelings were dampened and my excitement was mixed with sadness. But when I brought a bag-full of nuggets to the house, my wife did not know there was more where that came from, which would never be ours. She saw so much wealth as she bad never dreamed of. To her it seemed as if the gold of the whole world was hers. The excitement was too much for her, poor thing."

When the teacher finished this story, he said, "Do you know, children, why I told you this story? I told it to you, so that you would better understand our great Master, Moses. Moses was the greatest prophet that ever lived, as the Torah states in its concluding verses. He was the man who came closest to G‑d, and he was the wisest and most learned. Yet, the Torah tells us that he was the most humble man that ever lived! Do you know what this means? It means that Moses really believed that he was not wise enough, not G‑d-fearing enough, not worthy enough. He really believed that any man of the six hundred thousand adult Jews, whose shepherd he was, was worthier than he.

"Now, how is it possible that the greatest and wisest of all men should truly think he was not wise or worthy enough? The answer is simple.

"You see, just because Moses came so close to G‑d, he knew that whatever wisdom he had was so little, compared to the Source of Wisdom. Like that lucky sand-digger who discovered a mountain of gold, and could take away with him but a little… So too Moses saw the great treasures of wisdom that are with G‑d, and knew that almost all of it was beyond his reach, except the little which he could learn, which was like a drop in the ocean.

"And so it is, children, with all truly wise men. They know that whatever they have learned is but little, and that there is an endless treasure of wisdom, Divine wisdom, which is beyond their reach. He is a foolish man who thinks that he knows everything, thinking that the little knowledge he has is all the knowledge in the world."