“The Money in the Honey” is a story told about young David is King Saul’s court. There’s a children’s book by this name, retelling this story, written and illustrated by Aidel Backman.
Back in ancient Israel, long before banks, a wealthy widow had to set out on a long journey. But where to keep her gold coins? She thought of an idea. She put her gold coins in the bottom of large earthenware jugs and then filled them up to the top with honey. She asked a neighbor to safeguard the honey-jugs while she was away. She didn’t tell the neighbor a word about the coins hidden underneath the honey. When she returned, the neighbor returned the honey jugs – without the money. The neighbor must have realized these honey jugs were worth something, and curious about it, she emptied them out, found the coins and filled the jars back up with honey. The widow was devastated!
She didn’t know what to do! She took her case to King Saul. The King heard her story, and the neighbors’ denial, and the widow had no legal case. There was no proof there had ever been money in those honey jars. The widow left King Saul’s court dejected. David was a young boy then at the King’s court and he had an idea. He suggested that the jars be broken open, and if a coin or two would be clinging to the honey on the walls of a jar, the widow’s story would be vindicated. Indeed, that’s what happened. They found a couple of coins stuck in the honey at the bottom of the jars, and the widow got her money back.
It’s thousands of years later, most of us don’t keep much cash altogether these days, and certainly not stashed in jars of sticky honey. But this story has relevant messages for us:
(1) A good ol’ detective message. You guys read mysteries. There’s always more to the story than the obvious facts or legal claim. Take a closer look at the situation, the characters, the timeline, there are often clues and telltale signs. So, too in our Judaism and in our Jewish learning, its more than the words and the facts, we ought to take a closer look at the little overlooked things, see more detail in the picture. Superficial won’t solve it. We can’t just go by the question or claim. We have to read deeper into it. We have to find the question underneath the question! Reading deeper analytically is a Talmud specialty, reading deeper soulfully and spiritually is more in Chassidic teachings.
(2) Make it stick! Our Judaism shouldn’t slip on and off. It’s gotta stick. And even if just a few Jewish “coins” stick here or there, those few sticky nuggets can help us regain our entire heritage. But the key is that it has to stick to us! Adhesive Judaism (whatever makes it stick to you) is the key to keeping and reclaiming our precious heritage, the treasure of our people.