Jacob left his parents’ home with nothing more than a walking stick in his hand and now returns home, after working tirelessly for 20 years building his legacy, with a large family and great wealth.
Our sages taught that one’s reward is according to one’s efforts. Anything of value comes with a price and if something is given away for free, we should suspect that it may be worthless, as the Talmud comments, “A doctor who treats for nothing is worth nothing.”
Now, of course, there’s nothing like getting a good deal and a bargain, still we must be cautious that we do not extend this penchant for bargains to areas where it can be destructive, such as personal relationships or other things of spiritual value.
Valuable relationships can be costly. If we are not willing to sacrifice our comfort for a relationship, but look only for friends and spouses that will demand nothing of us, the Talmud teaches that this relationship will be worth exactly what we invest in it, nothing! Likewise, if we seek spiritual goals that will come easily to us without any effort or sacrifice on our part, we will achieve goals that are worth nothing.
The Talmud uses the example of free medical care to teach us that for things that are truly important, such as our health, we must be willing to bear the cost. We should apply this lesson to other important areas of our lives.