The Wonderful Healing Leaves: A Tale from Kurdistan Part II

In the morning the lad arose early, and the giant said to him: “When you leave here, you must ride on the road for seven days, until you come to a crossroads. On one of the roads it is written ‘A happy journey,’ and on the other, ‘He who follows this path shall not return.’ You must not ponder there, but take the road from which there is no return. Continue to follow this road until it comes to a dead end. This is the first danger. When you come there you must say: ‘What a beautiful path! Had I all the horses of the king I would come and dance here!’ Then the path will continue, so you can pass.

“The next danger,” continued the giant, “is a valley filled with poisonous snakes, through which no man can pass. When you come to it you must say: ‘What a beautiful valley filled with honey! If only someone brought some of this honey to the palace of the king, he would gladly eat it!” Then the snakes will disappear, and you will be able to pass.

“The third danger is a valley filled with blood and all kinds of beasts, through which no man can pass. When you come to it you must say: ‘What tasty butter! Had I the bread of the king, I would spread this tasty butter on it!’ Then the valley will dry up, and you will be able to pass.

“After this,” the giant went on, “you will come to a palace, guarded by a dragon and a viper. If their eyes are open, it means they are sleeping; if their eyes are closed, they are fully awake. Wait until their eyes are open, and then you will be able to pass. From there you must enter the palace, and walk down the corridor until you come to the queen’s door, which is guarded by four lions. If their eyes are open it means they are sleeping; if their eyes are closed, they are awake. Now, the door to the queen’s cham­ber, which they guard, is made entirely of bells, and when it is opened the sound of the bells wakes the lions. I will give you two packages of cotton with which to muffle the bells. When the eyes of the lions are open, muffle the bells and open the door. There you will find the queen sleeping, for when she sleeps all the beasts sleep with their eyes open, and beside her bed grows the tree with the healing leaves. Fill one bag with the leaves, and also fill your pockets, for they are very precious. Then go to the queen and exchange rings with her. After that, when you return, you must do every­thing you did before, but in reverse order.”

The lad listened closely to what he had to do, and when the giant had fin­ished telling him, he gratefully thanked him and set off down the road. He acted according to the giant’s instructions, so he was able to continue on the path that ended, and to cross the valley filled with snakes and the one filled with blood and beasts. And when he reached the palace he waited until the eyes of the dragon and the viper were open, which meant that they were asleep, and he entered the palace. So too did he wait for the four lions to open their eyes, meaning that they too were asleep, and he entered the chamber of the queen, who was sleeping on her bed. And beside her bed he found the tree with the wonderful healing leaves, its branches reaching to the ceiling, its roots growing beneath the floor. Then the lad filled a big sack with those leaves and his pockets as well, and exchanged his ring with that of the queen. And on the way back he did everything he had done to get there, but in reverse. So it was that two weeks later he returned with the bag full of leaves and the queen’s ring on his finger, and came to the inn run by the two princes.

Now when the princes saw the sack, they asked the lad what was inside it, and he told them the whole story, although he forgot to mention that he had exchanged rings with the queen. Then the two princes pretended to be very friendly, and invited him to spend the night, and he agreed.

But while the lad slept, the two princes threw a drug into his eyes to blind him, and put him in a sack and left him in a closet in the inn. They themselves took the bag of the healing leaves and set out to return to the palace of the king. And when they arrived the king’s blindness was cured by the healing leaves, and he appointed the two princes to be his ministers, and rewarded each of them with one third of his kingdom.

Meanwhile, when the lad awoke and found himself in a sack, he did not give up hope, but struggled until he had managed to free himself. But when he did, he discovered he was blind, and he was deeply grieved. Then he re­membered the healing leaves he had kept in his pockets, and took some of them and rubbed them against his eyes, and his sight was restored. After that he returned to his wife, the king’s youngest daughter, and said to her: “I have brought the healing leaves.” But to his surprise she laughed at him and said: “The two princes brought them back long before you, and the king has regained his sight.” And the lad understood that his long quest had all been in vain.

Now it happened that when the queen of the Land of No Return awoke from her sleep, she saw that her ring had disappeared, replaced by another, and that many leaves were missing from the tree. She immediately un­rolled her flying carpet, and searched high and low for whoever had taken her ring and the leaves. After searching in many places, she heard of the king who had been cured of his blindness, and when she arrived at the pal­ace she threatened to send the dragon to destroy the city if she was not told how the cure had come to pass. Then the princes came forward and showed the leaves to her in the presence of the king. She said: “Tell me where you got them from.” And they replied: “We found a forest and picked the leaves off a tree.” “They are lying!” hissed the queen. “Beat them!”

Just then the lad arrived at the palace and told the queen how he had obtained the leaves, and showed her the ones he still had left, which he had carried in his pockets. Then the lad showed the queen her ring, and she knew that he was telling the truth. But she wanted to know how the princes had returned with the leaves before him, and so the lad told her all that had happened, and all the trouble that they had caused him. After that the lad gave back the ring to the queen, and she got on her flying carpet and returned to her kingdom. And the king, who had heard all that the lad had said, now understood what had really taken place. He banished the two princes and invited his youngest daughter and her husband to live in the palace, where the young man soon became his most trusted minister, and they all lived happily ever after.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Wonderful Healing Leaves: A Tale from Kurdistan Part I

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who had three daughters. The king wanted his daughters to marry wealthy princes, and in the case of his first daughter and his second, they did. But the youngest princess fell in love with a poor man, and wanted to marry him. The king and queen opposed the marriage, but the princess went ahead and secretly married her beloved. And when this became known to the king, he was furious, and banished his daughter from the palace. Thereafter she lived happily but in poverty with her hus­band, whom she loved.

One day it happened that the king awoke and found that he had some­how become blind. He summoned doctors from all corners of the kingdom, but none of them could restore his sight. Then a doctor came from a distant city, who said he had heard that there was a special tree in the Land of No Return whose leaves could heal blindness. But, the doctor added, no one who had gone there to obtain those leaves had ever returned.

Even though the way to the tree of the healing leaves appeared to be fraught with danger, it was the king’s last hope. So he called on the two princes who were married to his daughters, and asked them to set out on the journey, and promised that if they succeeded they would each receive one third of his kingdom on their return. But he warned them not to come back empty-handed, or it would cost them their lives. Of course, the princes could not refuse to undertake such a journey, so after they had equipped themselves with speedy horses and many provisions, they set out on the quest for the healing leaves.

Healing Tree

Meanwhile, when the king’s youngest daughter, who was married to the poor man, found out about her father’s blindness and the quest for the healing leaves, she asked her mother, the queen, to permit her husband also to join the search, on the same conditions as those set for the two princes. The queen took pity on her, and gave the poor lad a lame horse and meager provisions, and two weeks after the two princes had already departed, he too set out on the quest.

Now after the two princes had ridden for seven days, they reached the province that bordered the Land of No Return. There the princes were told: “Many are those who have tried to reach the area where the healing leaves can be found, but none of them has ever returned. It is said that the way to the tree on which the leaves grow is guarded by a dragon and a viper, who destroy all those who come within their reach.”

When the two princes heard this, they became frightened, and they did not want to continue the quest. But they knew they could not return empty-handed, or it would cost them their lives. Therefore they decided to stay at the place they had reached, and together they opened an inn there.

Two weeks later the lad who was married to the youngest princess ar­rived at their inn. He did not recognize them, nor did they recognize him, for they had never met. He stayed there that night, and in the morning he went about asking if anyone knew the way to the Land of No Return. So it was that he spoke to the same people who had warned the two princes. But the young man was not afraid, nor would he abandon the quest. And when the people saw that he was determined to go there, they told him that the only one who knew how to reach the tree of the healing leaves was a giant who lived in the valley below. But that giant himself was very terrible, and ate all those who came within his reach.

Still the lad was not afraid, and he mounted his horse and traveled to the valley that very day, and rode until he reached a house that was as high as a mountain. Another man would have been overcome with terror to see how high was the door of that house, but not the husband of the young­est daughter of the king. Without hesitation he approached the door and knocked on it. Then the wife of the giant opened the door, and when she saw it was a man, she told him to leave at once, for his life was in danger. But the lad insisted that he must talk to the giant, in order to find out how to reach the Land of No Return. And when she saw that he was determined to stay, she allowed him to come in and fed him and then hid him under the bed.

Before long the giant returned home, and as soon as he entered he de­clared: “Surely my nose does not deceive me—for I can smell the blood of a man even a mile away.” The giant’s wife tried to convince him that no man was foolish enough to come there, but the giant kept insisting it must be so, and at last she revealed that the lad was hidden under the bed. Then the lad came out, stood before the giant, and said: “Sir giant, you are my host and I am in your power. You can do with me whatever you like. But first let me tell you my story.” And the giant was amazed at his bravery and said: “Go on and tell me the tale.”

Then the lad told the giant about the blindness of the king, and how he had come in search of the healing leaves. And when the giant saw that he was willing to go to the Land of No Return, even though no one had ever come back from there, he said to him: “Since you do not tremble before me, and are not afraid to risk your life by entering the Land of No Return, I shall not kill you, for you are the first man I have met who is not a cow­ard.” Then the giant invited the lad to eat and sleep in his home, and so it was that the lad spent the night there as his guest.

Watch for part II of the story soon

 May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

 Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Tzaddik of the Forest

In the holy city of Sfas (Safed) there lived a holy rabbi who was said to know all of the revealed and hidden Torah, all the holy writings, and the Zohar by heart. A wealthy and educated merchant in Sfas owned a large orchard, several fields, and two ancient forests. Now this wealthy merchant had a beautiful he had great difficulty in find­ing a worthy groom for her. No one was a fine enough scholar. Then it happened that he heard of the holy rabbi, and he was determined that such a learned man would be his son-in-law. With the help of a shadchan (a person who arranges marriages) the betrothal was made.

So it was that the holy rabbi met both his bride and his father-in-law for the first time on the day he was married. Under the chupah (wedding canopy) the holy rabbi took the hand of his bride and said, “And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.” (Hosea 2:19) The love between the holy rabbi and his bride was a deep one, which had been ordained in heaven.

Every day after the morning prayers, the holy rabbi rode a horse into one of the forests, and he was not seen again until the sun was about to set and it was time for the afternoon prayers. What he did in that forest was a mystery. The wealthy merchant saw that the holy rabbi treated his daughter well and that she always appeared to be happy, so he never questioned his ways of his son-in-law.

Now the wealthy merchant hired two Jewish men to serve as the foresters of the two ancient forests he owned. Each had a cabin in one of the forests, and there they watched for those who sought to poach, illegally hunt or cut down the trees. They would walk through the forests as they patrolled for trespassers. One day, one of the foresters saw a horse tied to a tree and when he went closer, he saw the merchant’s son-in-law lowering himself into the dark, putrid insect-infested waters. What kind of mikveh (ritual bath) was this?

Mikvah in Forest

The holy rabbi spent a long time in those waters, and when he came out of the water, he dressed, untied the horse, and rode out of the forest. Then the forester came out of hiding and saw, to his amazement, that those waters had turned completely pure. He bent down and drank from them, and the waters were clear and sweet. And he realized that he had witnessed a miracle of one of the hidden saints.

So it was that the forester secretly observed the holy rabbi as he made his way through the forest, and he saw many other kinds of miracles take place. Whatever barren tree he sat beneath soon had blossoms appear on it, and whatever path he walked on had flowers spring up overnight. All of nature welcomed his presence as if he were an angel. He quietly went on his way hidden from the eyes of people, healing whatever was sick or dying with a power that seemed to spring from his very being. The holy rabbi searched for the scattered sparks in that holy forest, so that he could gather them so he could repair the world.

Now that forester was childless, and when he told his wife about the miracles he had witnessed in the forest, and then told her husband that the holy rabbi was a tzaddik nistar (righteous hidden holy man). She begged him to go to the hid­den tzaddik and ask for his blessing so they could have a child of their own. One day, when he could not hold himself back any longer, the forester approached the holy rabbi and said, “I know that you are a tzaddik nistar, who hides his ways from the world. There is only one thing I would ask of you, and if you help me, I promise never to reveal your secret. All I ask is that you pray for my wife and me to have a son.” The tzaddik saw that his secret had been discovered, and he blessed the forester, “Ribonno shel Olam, Master of the Universe look down on the sadness of your children, and remember them, and grant them a child.” He then promised the man that within a year he and his wife would be blessed with a baby boy. At the end of the year the forester’s wife gave birth to a healthy son.

The forester was overjoyed at the birth of his son and kept his word and never revealed the secret of the holy rabbi. Then one day his friend forester, who watched over the other ancient forest, came to visit him. This forester’s life had been tragic, for each of his sons had died before reaching the eighth day. He said: “I see that G-d has blessed you and you have had a son. May there be many more blessings. Tell me, was there anything you did to make this possible? Perhaps you can help me so that I can be blessed as well.”

Now the forester had no intention of breaking his promise, but at the same time he wanted to help his friend, the other forester. He thought for some time and answered: “I will help you on one condition—that you not ask any questions but do whatever I tell you to do.” The other forester quickly agreed to these terms, and the first one explained: “What we have to do is to switch places, so that you will patrol my forest, and I will patrol yours. Then everything will be all right.”

Jewish Forester

So it was that the foresters switched places, and after a while the second forester observed the ways of the holy rabbi, who brought miracles to pass wherever he went. When he saw these miracles, the forester understood why the other had advised him to switch places. One day he slowly approached the tzaddik of the forest and told him of the disaster that had haunted the birth of every one of his sons, and he asked for his blessing, that his future sons would live.

The tzaddik was silent for a long time, and at last he said: “Do you remember that when you were young you went with some friends to swim in the river and to wash in its waters? There was a large tree near the shore of that river, and at the bottom of the trunk, near the roots, there was engraved the image of a hand. And you had the urge to laugh and play around. So you took a ring and placed it on the finger of the hand and said Haray at mekudeshes….Behold you are consecrated to me, the wedding vows.”

The forester grew pale when he heard this, for he himself had forgotten about that foolish thing. He lowered his eyes and admitted that it was true, and the holy rabbi explained: “At that moment an evil spirit that lived in that place was wed to you. And since you married someone else, this evil spirit comes and kills your sons because you betrayed her and didn’t fulfill the wedding vow”

The forester was staggered by these words, and he said: “I remember that day as if it were yesterday. Afterward I was ashamed of what I had done, and I put it out of my mind until now. Please, tell me, what must I do in order to free myself of that evil spirit?”

The holy rabbi told the forester that he had to say a special teffilah (prayer):

“Av haRachaman…Father of Mercy, I have done so much damage in this world through my many indiscretions, sins and wrong-doing from my earliest days until today. I have so abused my mouth, my eyes and ears – at times because of my carelessness, at times intentionally, sometimes through outside pressures and sometimes quite deliberately. Kind, loving and forgiving Master of Compassion: pardon and forgive me for everything. Repair all the damage until not a trace is left. You know that I need your help to make amends for all the wrong I have done.”

The holy rabbi continued, “I will write the get, the bill of divorce, for you, and you must take it to the same place, and put the get into the hand engraved there, and you must say: ‘The holy rabbi commands you to divorce me.’ “

The forester went there, found the place where the hand was engraved, and he did as the holy rabbi told him to do, and at last he was freed of that spirit. And the sons who were born to him after that all thrived.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

 

Click here for more storytelling resources 

 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

A Journey to the Tree of Life

The holy rabbi would go out into the forest by himself each day. What he did there was a great mystery to his students. One morning, the holy rabbi asked three of his students if they would like to go with him into the forest. All three of them eagerly agreed to go.

The students climbed onto the wagon, and the holy rabbi himself served as the driver. Never once did he crack the whip, but the horses responded to his presence by racing forward, and it seemed to the students that the hooves of the horses and the wheels of the wagon never touched the ground.

After some time they arrived at a beautiful forest that none of the students had efver seen. Without saying a word, the holy rabbi dismounted, unhitched the horses from the wagon, and motioned for the students to follow. Now they wondered why he did not rack-up, (secure horses to a fixed object by means of a halter and lead rope) the horses to nearby trees, and one of the students asked the holy rabbi if he wanted him to do it for him, and the holy rabbi answered: “It is not necessary to tie up the horses here, but if you are worried about them wandering off, you could stay here with them until we return.” The student did not want to miss any lesson from his teacher and did not want to left behind.

Never had the students seen a forest like this. The trees were so ancient that some of them were so wide that their span was wider than all of them together and so high that they seemed to reach into heaven. When one of the students tried to see the top branches of an especially tall and magnificent tree, he saw a nest high in its branches and a golden bird of such great beauty fly­ing into the nest. The student stood rooted in that place, marveling at the sight of the shining golden bird. He hoped to learn secret words of holiness as it is written, “for a bird of the air may carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter. (Ecclesiastes10:20) Meanwhile the other students continued into the forest, leaving their companion behind.

A little further on they came to a still, clear pond filled with the deepest blue water. The students saw the holy rabbi lean over and peer into the pond, and they wondered what holy things he saw. They each decided to look into the pond as did their holy teacher. What they saw was not their images, but a divine presence that seemed to gaze back at them from beneath the waters. Now the students were greatly amazed at what they saw and raised their eyes to ask the holy rabbi to explain the images they saw, but when they did, they saw that he had already left the pond, and one student hurried off to catch up with him. The other student remained staring at that angel, for he understood that it was his own guardian angel he was seeing, and he could not tear himself away from the remarkable sight.

Etz Chaim Hi

Further in the forest they came to trees that seemed to be shimmering as if they were on fire, yet they were not consumed. The last student wanted to stop to explore this strange sight, but the holy rabbi barely paused to glance at the trees and continued on his way. The last student, remembering well the vision of Moses at the burning bush, (Exodus 3:2) remained behind, trying to understand the mystery of that fire, and he did not notice that the holy rabbi had left him behind.

In this way hours or days passed, and the three students were lost in the mysteries of that forest. Then, all at once, they found themselves back at the Beis haMidrash – House of Study, where they had started their journey. They could not understand how they had gotten there, and when they looked to the holy rabbi for an explanation, he said: “When Moses left Egypt he knew that some of the Children of Israel would never reach the Promised Land. And, indeed, some of them crossed the Red Sea but were no longer present at the giving of the Torah, and some who were present both when the sea was crossed and the Torah was received did not reach the Promised Land. So it is that I brought you with me into Paradise where “there is a tree of life for those who do His will.” (4 Maccabees 18:16). Sadly the further we went, the fewer were those who followed. When I came to the Tree of Life, I found that all of you had lingered behind.”

May all your tales end with Shalom (Peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

Please share this story with others

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Bird of Happiness: A Tale from Kurdistan

There once was a special light that shown when the Holy One, blessed be He created the world that was so bright that could  not be used to light the day, because it would hide the light of the sun. (Genesis Rabbah 3:6). It disappeared when Adam and Eve left the Garden. G-d took a piece of this light, put it in a stone and gave it to Adam and Eve to light the darkness. The stone was passed from generation to generation. Noah used this stone to light the inside of the ark. (Genesis 6:16, Sanhedrin 108b). It was passed down to Abraham who had a precious stone hung round his neck which brought immediate healing to any sick person who looked on it. . (Baba Basra 16b) He passed it on to Isaac who gave it to Jacob who handed it on to Joseph. Joseph used it for his dream interpretations. Moses recovered it from the bones of Joseph and placed it in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). (Baba Basra 16b, Leviticus. R. 11; Genesis. Rabbah 31:11). The tzohar passed from the holy and righteous and made it to the wise King Solomon, who used it to light the inside of the Beis haMikdash (Holy Temple) in Jerusalem. When the Holy Temple was destroyed it disappeared.

Binyāme was born in the desert and learned the ways of the shifting sands. His parents had been slaves, but they had run away to find a place where they could be free. Each morning they would thank the Holy One, blessed be He “shelo asani aved” (who has not made me a slave)(Menuchos 43b) Every day they searched for food and water, while the sun beat down on their backs, and sand blew in their faces. Still, Binyāme never lost hope, for his mother would say:

“One day the Bird of Happiness will guide us to a holy city like Jerusalem.” For that was their dream—to reach the holy city with a strong Jewish community like Jerusalem. The question was how could they find their way there?”

Every night, when they stopped to rest, Binyāme’s father would teach him what it meant to be Jewish. They had no books, but his father remembered the holy teachings and the stories he had learned as a boy.  He taught his son that he should “You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Binyāme took all his father’s teachings to heart and let them be his guide.

So it was that they wandered for many years, and still the desert stretched endlessly before them. Then one night, Binyāme had a strange and powerful dream. In the dream he was traveling with his parents when the world suddenly grew dark “a darkness that can be felt.” (Exodus 10:21). Binyāme’s parents said, “Quickly, Binyāme, crouch down and cover yourself with a blanket. A sandstorm is coming!” And as soon as he did he heard the roar of the wind as sand started swirling around him and beating down on the blanket, and the sandstorm lasted for many hours. At last the storm passed, and Binyāme and his parents threw off the blankets and discovered that their food had been scattered and their water was swallowed by the storm, and, even worse, their foot­prints were lost by the sand and wind. They could no longer tell where they had come from or where they should go.

Just when everything looked hopeless, Binyāme saw something on the ho­rizon. At first it was only a speck, but soon he saw that it was a beautiful white bird. That bird came closer and closer, and just as it flew over Binyāme, it dropped something from its beak and in the dream, and Binyāme caught it! At that moment Binyāme woke up and discovered that he was clutching some­thing in his right hand—a glowing stone. Binyāme jumped up and showed it to his parents.

Binyāme hung the glowing stone from a leather thong around his neck, and it proved to be a wonderful guide. For when they were travel­ing in the right direction, the stone would glow, but when they were going in the wrong direction, it remained dark. In this way the glowing stone guided them to every oasis, where pools of fresh water were surrounded by trees bearing sweet fruit. Each time they came to such an oasis, they said a prayer of thanks.

So it was that after years of wandering through shifting sands and blaz­ing sun, Binyāme and his parents finally came to the walls of a great city—the first city that Binyāme had ever seen. As they passed through the gates, they were surprised to see a huge crowd had gathered in the streets. Binyāme won­dered about this, because his father had told him that in cities people live in houses.

Then Binyāme’s father asked why everyone was standing the streets. The man said, “Three days ago our king died. And it is the custom in our city to let the will of heaven decide who will be our next king. So on the third day after the king’s death, the rare Bird of Happiness is released and cir­cles above the city, and whoever the bird lands on is chosen to be the next king of the city. The bird is about to be released. That is why everyone is standing in the street.”

Just then there was a great shout from the crowd, and Binyāme looked up and saw a white bird soaring on high and circling above the city, and there was something strangely familiar about that bird. It spiraled lower and lower, while Binyāme’s glowing jewel glowed more brightly than ever before. And suddenly the bird swooped down and landed on Binyāme’s shoulder! There was a great shout from the crowd, and all at once Binyāme was picked up and carried off, while his parents ran after them, crying, “That’s our son. Where are you taking him?”

The crowd brought Binyāme to the king’s palace, where he was placed on the king’s throne, with the Bird of Happiness still perched on his shoulder. Ev­eryone bowed low before him, and they declared that he, Binyāme, the poor boy wandering in the desert, the son of slaves, was their king. At first Binyāme thought it must all be a dream, but then he felt the tugging of the bird’s talons in his hair, and he knew that it must be real.

Three days later there was a great coronation, and Binyāme was officially crowned king of the great city. After that Binyāme and his parents lived in the palace. No longer did they wonder what they would eat or drink or where they would sleep at night. As king of the great city, every important question was brought before Binyāme to decide. Now while Binyāme had never gone to school or even seen a book, he let the Ten Commandments be his guide in deciding what was right and what was wrong, and he found that they served him very well. Plus, he had the secret assistance of the glowing stone. For whenever the answer to a question was yes, the stone would glow brightly. But if the answer was no, it would remain dark.

At first the nobles of the great city were worried that the fate of the city was being entrusted to such a young boy. But as they listened to his decisions, they came to realize that he was very wise. There was only one thing they wondered about. The young king had asked that a simple shack be built out of branches next to the palace. There he spent an hour each day—but no one knew what he did.

Finally, the king’s minister could not contain his curiosity, and he asked the young king about his strange actions. Binyāme said,

“When I go into that shack, I put on the rags I was wearing when I came here, and I remember where I came from. For only then can I know where I must go.”

When the minister heard this, he knew that Heaven had truly blessed them with a wise young king. After that he served Binyāme faithfully for many years, and in this way Binyāme became a great king. Every day Binyāme and his parents thanked the Holy One, blessed be He for all their blessings — and especially for the Bird of Happiness.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The King and His Old Teacher

One of the kings had a wise teacher who had instructed him since his childhood in all matter of things such as mathematics, differences between light and dark, sciences, as well as matters of honour and respect. Every day was a new lesson as the teacher instilled into the king, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever…Many shall be running back and forth, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12: 3-4) The teacher grew old and age was heavy upon him and weak­ness and want had overtaken him. After many years, the teacher came to visit the king one day, with his son to support him at his side. When the king saw him, he rose from his throne to bid him welcome and to receive him with honour. He seated him at his right hand, then turned to his ministers and servants and said to them: “This was my teacher in my childhood and he taught me what is good and right and instructed me in the ways of goodness and wisdom.

Then he turned to the old man and asked him: “Is all well, father mine? And the old man answered: “Your majesty, well-being is far from me, for the pangs of old age will not let me be and the days of evil have come upon me and the years with no purpose press wearingly. What good is life to a man whose moments are long and whose arms are no longer strong, and he sleeps by day and remains awake all night long. I dare say, and whose ears are too heavy for him to hear and his eyes are too dim to see with, I fear. Food he despises when it is there, yet he longs to feast when it is somewhere else. His pains slow him down and the birds wake him up, and his dear ones annoy him and his dreams frighten him enough to destroy him, and his bones have grown dry and he has forgotten his good days, they are so far away!”

Old Teacher

The king and all those who were seated before him wept aloud and said: “Alas, for living when the beginning is forgotten in its ending and people would sooner be dead than alive.” The king told those before him that one must always “Revere your teacher as you revere Heaven.” (Avos 4:12) The king said to him: “Father mine, I can change your lack to wealth, G-d be praised, but I cannot change old age to youth.” And he gave him money and the robes he wore, and endowed his children with a good inheritance and ordered them to support their father honorably and treat him with re­spect. Then the old man blessed him saying, “He who pleases his teachers is destined for the World to Come” (Shabbos 153a) The old teacher and his son left the king in peace.

 

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

 

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Island of the Shofar and the Horn of Plenty

There was a holy rabbi who was famous for his ability to blow the shofar. So powerful were the sounds he drew forth that those who heard the shofar were sure that its voice would ascend on high all the way to the Throne of Glory.

Now it was the dream of the holy rabbi to travel to the Holy Land to blow the shofar in the holy city of Jerusalem. One day the opportunity came and the holy rabbi prepared to leave on his journey when an old man offered him advice, “Along your way, you will meet many people but remember this: when anyone asks you a question, be careful to measure your words and consider your reply.”

Shofar

So the holy rabbi set out for the Holy Land, and when he reached the Black Sea he took a ship to Constantinople. Now for the first few weeks everything went well, but one day, the skies grew dark and the seas raged as a terrible storm suddenly struck the ship and thrust into rocks so hard that it split apart. Everyone on board the ship was swallowed up by the sea except for the holy rabbi, who somehow managed to grab a long plank. He held tight to that plank for three days and nights, until the waves cast him onto an island.

The holy rabbi was so tired that he could only crawled onto the shore and fell asleep. When he regained his strength, he got up to explore the island to look for food for he was hungry from the three days he had spent at sea. He didn’t find any fruit or anything else to eat, but he did find a freshwater stream. He drank the cool water and satisfied his thirst. The Holy rabbi followed the stream to its source where he discovered a magnificent mansion.

The holy rabbi made his way to the door of that mansion and used the last of his strength to knock on the door. To his surprise, the door opened by itself. At first he stood in the doorway and called out, but no one replied, so he decided to see if anyone lived there. He walked through the halls, opening every door. Every room was beautiful and filled with wonders, but still no one was to be seen. Finally he opened the door to a large dining room, and there he saw the longest table he had ever seen in his life. It was so long that he could not see the other end, which seemed to be hidden in a thick fog. At another time he might have wondered at this, but at that moment all he noticed was that there was one place setting at the table, although there was no food to be seen.

When he came closer to the table, the holy rabbi saw that two precious objects had been placed there. One was the largest and most beautiful shofar he had ever seen, and the other was a golden horn whose value he could not begin to guess. He stood before those precious objects and wondered which he should examine first. Just then a single grape rolled out of the golden horn, and that decided the matter for him. He picked up the horn, and as he did, an enormous amount of the finest food fell out of it, rolling across the table.

The holy rabbi was overwhelmed at this unexpected abundance and quickly sat down so that he might partake of that delicious food. He closed his eyes and with much kavannah (concentration and sincere feeling) he said the blessings before eating, and just as he was about to take his first mouthful, he heard a deep voice that seemed to come from the far side of the table: “So, how are my children faring?” Now all that the holy rabbi could think of was that delicious food, and he quickly replied: “So, how should they be faring?” and he took the first bite. Then the voice replied: “So be it.” At that instant the fog lifted. The holy rabbi was able to see to the other end of the table, but no one was there. That is when he noticed that the shofar was missing, although the golden horn still remained. He decided to look for the shofar once he had finished eating, and he turned back to his plate. But each time he lifted his head, it seemed that the table had grown smaller. When he had eaten his fill, he looked down and saw that the table was no bigger than a plank. At that moment a deep exhaustion came over him, his head sank down, and he fell asleep.

All at once the holy rabbi was awakened by cold water washing over him, and when he opened his eyes, he found himself back in the sea, still clinging to the plank. He began to wonder if his visit to that mysterious mansion had been a dream or if it had really taken place. When he realized he was no longer hungry, he knew that some kind of miracle had happened.

Not long afterward, a fishing boat found him floating in the sea and brought him back to shore. Then he knew that he must not attempt to continue his journey to the Holy Land but must return to the wise old man, to tell him all that had taken place.

When the holy rabbi reached the small cottage of the wise old man, the old man greeted him sadly and said: “What a shame that you did not pick up that shofar and sound it, as you and only you can do so well. For if you did, the footsteps of the Messiah would have been heard every­where. For that is the shofar made from the horn of the ram that Abraham offered on Mount Moriah in place of Isaac. It is said that Elijah will blow that shofar at the End of Days. It was within your grasp to do so, so that all our waiting would come to an end.

shofar

“Or at least if you had held on to that golden horn, hunger would have been banished from the world. For that is the Horn of Plenty, and it you had brought it back, no one would ever know hunger again.

Horn of Plenty

“Or if you had replied otherwise to the question that was asked of you and told the Holy One, blessed be He, about our suffering in this world, surely everything would be different.

“But at least you were wise enough to say the blessings before you ate. For if you had not, you would have been lost at sea, as were all of the others who set out in that unfortunate ship.”

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Cottage of Lights

There once was a Jewish man who learned “Justice, justice, you shall pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20) and so he decided to travel throughout the world to find justice. He knew that somewhere in the world true justice must exist and he was determined to find it. He went from town to town and village to village, and every­where he went, he searched for justice, but never could he seem to find it.

tzedek

He thought that he may find true justice as he traveled across the many streams and rivers as he had learned “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24) Sadly all he found was that his feet were wet. He climbed steep hills and mountains that touched the heaven and then trekked through many valleys in the hopes of finding true justice as he studied and faithfully believed that “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains; your judgments are like the great deep.” (Psalm 36:6)

He journeyed for many years going from place to place, until he had explored all the known world except for one last great forest. He entered that dark forest without hesitation, for he had seen many frightful things in his travels. He went into the caves of hermits and thieves, but they taunted him and said, “do you expect to find justice here?” He went into the woodland huts of foresters and hunters, but they looked at him with questions in their eyes.

The man went deeper and deeper into that forest, until at last he arrived at a little clay shack. Through the window he saw many flickering flames, and he was curious about them. So he went to the door and knocked. No answer. He knocked again. He pushed the creaky door open and stepped inside.

As he stepped inside the cottage, the man realized that it was much larger on the inside than it seemed to be from the outside. It was filled with hundreds of shelves, on every shelf there were dozens of oil lamps some of those lamps were made of gold, silver or fine cut glass, while others were made of simple clay or tin. Some of the lamps were filled with oil and the flames burned brightly, while others had very little oil left.

Suddenly an old man wearing a long white robe and a long white beard appeared before him. “Shalom Aleichem, my son” the old man said. “How can I help you?” The man replied, “Aleichem Shalom. I have going everywhere searching for true justice, but never have I seen anything like this. Tell me what are all these lamps?”

The old man said, “each of these lamps is the light of a person’s soul. As long as the flame continues to burn that person remains alive. But when the flame burns out that person’s soul takes leave of this world.”

The man asked, “can you show me the lamp of my soul?”

“Follow me,” the old man said, and he led him through that long labyrinth of the cottage, which the man thought must be endless. Finally, they reached a low shelf and there the old man pointed to a clay lamp and said, “that is the lamp of your soul.”

Now the man took one look at the flickering flame, and a great fear fell upon him. The wick of the lamp was very short there was very little oil left. The man feared that at any moment the wick would slide into the oil and sputter out. He began to tremble. Could the end be so near without him knowing of it? Then he noticed the clay lamp next to his own, but that one was full of oil and the wick was long and straight and its flames burned brightly. “And who’s lamp is that?” The man asked.

I can only reveal each man’s lamp to himself alone,” the old man said and he turned and left.

The man stood there, quaking. All at once he heard a sputtering sound, and when he looked up, he saw smoke rising from another shelf, and he knew that somewhere, someone was no longer among the living. He looked back at his own lamp and saw that there was only a few drops of oil left. Then he looked again at the lamp next to his own, so full of oil, and a terrible thought entered his mind.

He stepped back and looked in every direction for the old man, but he didn’t see him anywhere. Then he picked up the lamp next to his own and lifted it up above his own. At that instant, the old man appeared out of nowhere and grabbed his arm with an iron grip.

The old man asked: “Is this the kind of justice you are seeking?” he continued, “are we not taught that “the soul of man is the lamp of the L-rd, searching all his innermost parts. (Proverbs 20:27)

The man closed his eyes because it hurt so much. When he opened his eyes, he saw the old man was gone, and the cottage and the candles had all disappeared. He found himself standing alone in the forest and he heard the trees whispering his fate. All the time wondering, had his lamp burned out? Was he, too, no longer among the living.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

 

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

 

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  feel free to repost and link back to us   If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Ladder of Prayers

A Holy rabbi once began praying with his students:

“Y’hi ratzon milphanecha…May it be your will G-d to allow me to pray to You with the devotion of my heart, soul and strength. Help me focus on the meaning of every word I say, and may no other thoughts interfere with the holy words I speak to you.

Let me find the holiness hidden in the words of my prayers and may my prayers rise up to You and you hear them with mercy. May my prayer form a beautiful crown for You and be a delight.”

Then he continued to pray very slowly and with great kavannah (intensity). Not word by word as others, but letter by letter. So deep was his concentration on his prayer that that he appeared to be in another world to the students who surrounded him. The holy rabbi’s prayer was slow and very strong.  At first his students waited for him, but after some time, they slowly left left the holy rabbi to his prayers.

Ladder of Prayer

Much later the holy rabbi came to them and said:

“While I was praying, I ascended the ladder of your prayers. As I climbed higher and higher, I heard a song of great beauty, it was sorrowful, but full of hope. I had no idea where it came from. At last I found myself outside the palace of Moshiach (Messiah), in the highest of the heavens. There I saw Moshiach himself standing by his window, and I saw the brilliant light that radiated from his face. He was looking at something behind me, but I could not see what it was. So I turned around and there I saw an enormous tree, whose branches reached into every corner of the heavens. T the very top of that tree there was a nest, and in that nest there was a golden dove. It was the song of that dove I had heard as I ascended on high. Then I understood that the Messiah could not bear to be without that dove and its song for as much as a minute. And it occurred to me that if I could capture that dove, and bring it back to this world, Moshiach would be sure to follow.

So I ascended higher, until I was within arm’s reach of the golden dove. But just as I was about to reach for it, the ladder of your prayers collapsed.”

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources 

 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)

 Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Twelve Golden Calves – A Jewish Story from China

In the city of Kaifeng, there lived a Jewish craftsman whose name was Shi Ziyu, who was known by his Hebrew name of Yehudah. He worked his loom in a small workshop. He wove beautiful silk, satin, and brocade with intricate designs. Everyone who saw his fine work wanted to buy them and with such a demand for his beautiful silks, satins and brocades he wanted to ex­pand his workshop, so that he could produce more. Next to his workshop there was an abandoned yard. Yehudah would have liked to purchase it, but even though it wasn’t expensive, he still could not afford it.

Kaifeng Jews

One night Yehudah had a dream in which he saw twelve golden calves danc­ing outside his workshop. In the dream he was puzzled about why they were there. When he went outside, they all looked at him, and ran away. He followed after them and they led him to the abandoned yard nearby. There they played happily and even did somersaults. Then they all ran to one corner of that yard and disappeared. That is when Yehudah awoke. He wondered about this strange dream, but didn’t pay much attention to it.

Then it happened that the dream repeated itself the next night, and the next. After it recurred the third time, Yehudah started to wonder what it meant. He told his wife about the dream, but she dismissed it, saying “Dreams are of no effect either one way or the other.” (Gittin 52a) Yehudah thought about what his wife said for some time and he decided to seek the advice from a wise and venerable wise man who lived in Kaifeng, who was known for interpreting dreams. The wise man said: “The place where the calves led you must be a good place, and may good fortune come to you.”

Yehudah was struck by the words of the wise man, and he felt it was a sign that he should risk all his savings and purchase that yard. He did so, but even after he owned the land, he was too poor to build a silk mill.

One rainy day Yehudah walked through the yard, thinking about his dream of the golden calves. In every dream they had run into one corner of the yard and disappeared. He went to that corner and noticed that the land dipped and saw that the rainwater was flowing into it. Yehudah went over to the growing hole and it caved in and he discovered a cavern. Yehudah reached in and touched something hard. He quickly uncovered it, and pulled out a beauti­ful gold-plated treasure box. When he opened it, he couldn’t believe his eyes—inside were twelve gold ingots bearing the stamp of calves.

Yehudah picked up the box and showed it to his wife, and the two of them thanked the Holy One, blessed be He and celebrated their good fortune. Now Yehudah was able to build the silk mill he so desired. When the mill was completed, it produced some of the most beautiful satin tapestry in all of China. Even the emperor purchased twelve bolts of the finest brocade. He was so pleased with it, that he decreed that Yehudah’s silk mill was the in the world. After that the brocade made in Yehudah’s silk mill became more precious than gold, Yehudah gave thanks to G-d every day for his abundant blessings.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

Click here for more storytelling resources  

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3) 

Please share this story with family and friends and let us know what you think or feel about the stories in a comment or two. Like us on Facebook  or tweet us on Twitter  If the stories are not shared they will be lost. 

Please share this story with others

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter