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The Folktale Corner

The diamonds land

A Jewish folktale from the United States

Retold by Yoel Perez

 

It is told, and only God knows if it is a truth or a lie, that there were father and his son that worked in their field. It was a small field and they worked hard to earn their living. They were poor and they used to work all day long in the burning sun day after day.

And once, when they worked there in their field, an old man that passed by, ask them for water. They gave him some water. He thanked them and then he said: "Why are you two working so hard?"

"What can we do?" said the father, "This field is our only property and we must work here if we do not want to stave."

"I heard", said the old man that somewhere in this world there is a land of diamonds. Who ever get there can turn a rich man in one night."

"Ah, it is all bobe-mayse (old wives' tales)." Said the father, "There is no such a land in this world!"

But the son the words of the old man were engraved in his heart.

Many years passed. The old man died and his son continued to cultivate the field, when one day an old man (another old man) passed by and asked for water and said the same words to the young man: "Why are you working so hard? I heard that somewhere in this world there is a land of diamonds. Who ever get there can turn a rich man in one night."

This time the young man made his decision. He sold the field; he bought a horse and prepared himself to hit the road.

"Are you crazy?" said his friends, "What are you going to do? It is all nonsense. There is no such a land!"

But he was determined: "May be you right. May be that land does not exist at all, but I must try. I must check it with my own eyes; from my own experience!"

And he went to his way. He passed many lands, visited many countries. All the time he kept asking people: "Do you know? Did you ever hear about the diamonds land?"

People laughed at him: "Diamonds land? You are crazy, you will never find it." But he did not fall into despair. He kept walking. He climbed high mountains. He crossed wide rivers and bushy forests. Nothing stopped him.

And then one day he found himself in the middle of a desolate desert. All his provisions ended, he had no water. He thought: it is my last day; I will die from thirst here in nowhere. But then he saw far away something white on a hill. He did a last effort. He mounted his horse and rode forward and when he was closer he saw that it was a small town. He kept riding and when he looked at the gravel under his horse hoofs, it seemed to him that the stones shine and glimmer in a strange way. He descended from his horse to have a close look he did not believe what he saw: diamonds! All sorts of diamonds big, small, shining and glimmer in many colors! At long last he arrived to the diamonds land!

He began to collect them. He put them in any available place in his coat pockets, in his bag, in the sacks on the horse back. He threw away his property the few things that he brought with him and filled it up with diamond. He could not stop. It was like a mania. Then when there was no place for one more diamond, he rode to the town. He entered a good restaurant and ordered to serve him an excellent meal. When the waiter came with the bill, he took one small diamond from his pocket and gave it to him: "I believe it can pay not only the price of this meal but of many more!"

"This?" said the waiter, "It is a simple stone. There are thousands stones like this in every corner!"

He looked at the road the waiter was right. Diamonds were scattered everywhere and no one paid attention.

"If it is so, then what has any value in your country?"

"Ah," said the waiter, "look here" and from a small bag that was tied around his neck he took out a small simple gravel stone: "This has a great value!"

What a world! Everything here is upside down he thought in the diamonds land diamonds have no value!

He had no choice. He had to work the whole week in the restaurant washing dishes in order to pay his bill.

Then he looked for a new job. He earned some money and hired an apartment and every free moment he went out and collected diamonds. He said to himself: it is a matter of 'once at life' I'll stay here three or four weeks, I'll collect the much that I can and come back to my motherland.

But after three weeks he felt he cannot leave yet. So he stayed one more month and then another one. He found permanent job. He began to make business and saved a lot of money. One year passed and then another one. One day he looked around him on all those sacs of diamonds that overfilled his rooms and he said to himself: what an idiot am I. When I decide to leave all I need is to hire two boys that will fill for me as many sacs of diamonds as I wish. What is the sense of filling my apartment with all these sacs?

So he emptied all the sacs and threw the diamonds out.

Years passed. Ten years passed. And then came a day when all of a sudden he felt great yearning to his motherland, to his friends, to all the things he left behind him. He decided to hit the road and go back to his old home. He sold all his property and got for it a whole bag of stones. He mounted his horse and rode into the desert. He was not young. It was a great effort for him to cross the desolate desert. But he did it. At long last he came to a settled place. He entered a good restaurant and ordered to serve him an excellent meal. When the waiter came with the bill, he took one small stone from his bag and gave it to him: "I believe it can pay not only the price of this meal but of many more!"

"This?" said the waiter, "It is a simple stone. There are thousands stones like this in every corner!"

And then he caught his head with his hands. The diamonds! The real diamonds! He left them all in the diamonds land and he brought home a handful of worthless stones!

But what can he do? The diamonds land is far away and he is not young any more. There is no chance that he can do the journey once again. So he accepted his situation. He began once again from the very beginning he worked here and there; he worked hard, he saved penny to penny and built himself once again.

And then one day he put order in his house (we the Jews call it "to make Passover" the spring cleaning) and he found his old travel coat. It was old and torn. He intended to throw it away when he felt something hard in one of the pockets. He turned it out and found a big diamond the first diamond that he collected and put in his pocket when he discovered the diamonds on his way to the town.

He sold the diamond and he supported himself with the money till the rest of his life.

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I heard this story many years ago from my friend, Avi Barak, who heard it in a synagogue in the United States from his rabbi. The rabbi told it to a young boy who celebrated his bar-mitzvah in the synagogue. So one can call it an American Jewish folktale. Does any one of you, the faithful listeners of my stories know something more about this story? I'll be glad to hear.