The merchants all laughed at him. “Your knowledge will be a fine comfort to any empty and hungry belly!” they jeered.
The rav ignored them saying, “You will see who is right.”
In the middle of the voyage, a terrible storm arose and the ship began to sink. They all barely managed to scramble aboard a lifeboat. They had to leave everything behind them, their treasures and even their clothes. The lifeboat was washed up on a shore in a distant land, where the people ignored them and didn’t even care to give them food.
The rav, however, entered a beit midrash and soon the people became aware that there was a great man amongst them. They gave him honor and riches and people came from afar to hear his words of wisdom.
The merchants who had been reduced to beggars visited the rav and pleaded with him, “Please intercede for us with the officials of this city to provide us with a means to survive. Tell them that we are not paupers but we were once prosperous merchants. Otherwise we will starve.”
The sage rav said, “Did I not tell you before that my merchandise is more valuable than yours? Your merchandise can be lost or stolen, whereas mine can never be lost. ‘A priceless give I have give you’” (Proverbs 4:2).