The Silent Princess – The Beginning

This is Part 1 of a 4 part Jewish fairy tale from the Middle East

In a faraway kingdom, there lived a beautiful princess who never spoke to anyone. She was so silent that many peo­ple assumed she was mute. Her father, the king, was certain that she could speak, but that she had chosen, for reasons of her own, to remain silent. The king saw that his daughter would constantly study and believed she did not speak because the fence to wisdom is silence (Avos 3:17). For this reason, when suitors came to ask for her hand in marriage, the king permitted them to meet her on the following condition: “You have one evening to spend with my daughter. If in that time you succeed in getting her to speak, even if it is only one word, then she shall be your bride. But if you fail—you will be hanged on the gallows at dawn.” Still, there had been many young men who boasted that they could win the heart of the princess and open her lips, but she kept silent in their presence, as verified by a witness who remained with them, and in the end, they lost their lives.

Now in another country there lived a prince who was both handsome and wise. One day this prince said to his father: “I wish to set out to wander in the land, to learn the ways of man and to amass wisdom and knowledge.” The king replied: “You may set out, if you wish to, my son. For surely you shall be a better ruler once you have become more familiar with the ways of the world. Go, and peace be with you but I ask that you return before the end of a year.”

So, the prince set out on his travels with his father’s blessings. His journeys were long, but in his wanderings he learned many things and became skilled in many tasks. Because of his travels and his desires to learn, he never stayed in any one place too long, for he wanted to see as much of the world as he could before it was time to return from his year long journey. In this way, he arrived at the kingdom of the mute princess, and when he heard of the king’s challenge to make the princess speak, he desired to seek her hand for himself.

The prince came before the king and spoke with him for a long time. The king was impressed with the wisdom of the young man and he admired him, and tried to warn him against the danger. The prince accepted the grave con­dition, even though his life was at stake.

That evening he joined the princess in her chamber, in the company of a faithful witness. The prince, the prin­cess, and the witness all sat in the room and were silent, for the prince did not even attempt to strike up a conversation with the princess, and this as­tonished her, for all the previous suitors had kept trying to make her speak.

Mute Princess

 After an hour’s silence, the prince turned to the witness and said: “Let us speak, in order to pass the time, for tomorrow I will be hanged.”

The witness replied: “I am not permitted to speak to you or to say any­thing. I am only a witness whose job it is to listen.”

Then the prince said: “And if I were to ask you something, would you reply?”

“Perhaps I would and perhaps I wouldn’t,” said the witness.

“Well, in that case,” said the prince, “listen carefully.

This is part 1 of 4

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May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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

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A Succos Story of Yossele the Woodsman and Mordechai haGibor

It was a small village where everyone knew each other, but the two most notable people in the  village were Mordechai haGibor the wealthy merchant and his neighbor Yossele the poor woodsman.

It seemed that Mordechai haGibor was always busy and it seemed that he was angry all the time. His family would gather around the table filled with all types of food every night and argue with each other over every little thing. The things said in anger in that house cannot be repeated for they were terrible indeed.

Yossele worked hard every day and barely made enough to feed his family. Every night when they would gather around the table, so many times it was not enough food, they would talk and sing as they enjoyed their meager meal.

Shabbos would come and the light of the Shabbos candles seemed awfully cold in the home of Mordechai haGibor. He would be demanding, his wife was always angry and his children were noisy and disrespectful.

Yossele’s house seemed always prepared to welcome the holy Shabbos as he and his family would gather around the warm glow of the Shabbos lights on his table. His children would join him and his wife in singing special Shabbos songs and they would share stories and little bits of Torah with each other. Shabbos was always a special time in Yossele’s house.

Every week and every holiday Mordechai haGibor would hear all the joyful sounds coming from Yossele’s house. This would make him angry and many times very sullen.

Rosh Hashanah had passed in the fast of Yom Kippur was behind them as everyone was preparing Succos (Feast of Booths and is also referred to as the Feast of Tabernacles) was quickly approaching.

Mordechai haGibor was determined that he would not be tortured by the sounds coming from Yossele’s house and so he went to everyone in the village and told them not to give him any wood to build his succah and if they did he would see to it that they would lose their livelihoods.

The morning after Yom Kippur, Yossele started going around the village asking people if they had any extra wood they could spare so that he could build his succah. Everyone told him they had nothing to offer. Each day Yossele tried to get the much-needed wood to build his succah but had no luck. The night before Succos Yossele was worried that he would not have a succah built and that his family would be sorely disappointed.

Yossele decided to go for a walk in the cool fall evening in the hopes that at the last minute one of his neighbors would give him some wood to build his succah. Suddenly he had an idea. There were many poor people in the village and death was no stranger. Many people could not afford the fine stone gravestones and would set up wooden markers over the graves of their loved ones. Yossele knew that at the cemetery there was a large pile of blank wooden markers and decided that he would borrow them for his succah and after the holiday return them.

The first night of Succos, Yossele and his family gathered around the table in the succah and welcome the holiday with happiness, songs and comforting words. Mordechai haGibor heard all of this and became very angry. He wondered who would dare give Yossele the wood to build his succah and he was determined to ruin whoever did it.

Old Wooden Succah

Mordechai haGibor stormed out of his succah, where his family was arguing over every little thing, and banged on the entry to Yossele’s succah. Yossele seeing his neighbor, invited and him into the succah and offered him some refreshment. Mordechai haGibor was so angry he refused and demanded to know who had given Yossele wood to build his succah. He wanted to know who had the nerve to give him wood after he told everybody not to give Yossele anything.

Yossele did the best he could to calm his neighbor, Mordechai haGibor, and again offered him some refreshment or at least something to drink. Mordechai haGibor again demanded to know where the wood came from, because he was going to ruin whoever gave Yossele the wood.

Yossele took a deep breath and looked at his neighbor and answered the angry question, “please do not ask me this. I would prefer to celebrate Succos with happiness and to make peace with you, my neighbor.” Mordechai haGibor became even more upset and demanded, “who gave you this wood? I know yesterday you did not have a succah so obviously someone felt sorry for you and I want to know who it was!”

Yossele answered, “last night I was walking through the village and as I turned onto the path into the forest I was met by a giant of a man. I asked him where he was going and he told me he was in a rush to get to the village because he had an important job to do. I told him that I understood that with the joyful holiday of Succos coming many people had a lot of preparations to be made, but sadly I would not be able to complete all of my own. I then asked a stranger who he was and he told me he was the Malach haMovis (Angel of Death). I asked him if he could postpone his grim duty until after whoever it was had one last chance to dance with the sifrei Torah on Simchas Torah. The Malach haMovis said no that he must perform his grim duty. I asked him by chance could he tell me who he had come for?”

The Angel of Death was silent for a moment or two and then told me, “I come for Mordechai haGibor and must complete my task before morning.” I thought for a moment and then told the Malach haMovis, “I can save you some time, for you see your trip is unnecessary because Mordechai haGibor is already dead.” The Angel of Death thanked me and asked, “what preparations for the holiday have you not made. Maybe I can help you.” I told the Malach haMovis that I had no wood to build my succah that my family would be sorely disappointed. He looked at me and then just laughed and then said, “I will not be returning to this village until way after Simchas Torah. So why don’t you use the blank wooden grave markers there piled up in the cemetery? Just please remember to return them at the end of the holiday.”

All the blood drained from the face of Mordechai haGibor and he sat down inside of Yossele’s succah. In fact, he had just noticed that indeed all the wood used in the succah had come from the cemetery. Yossele again asked him if he would like something to drink, “just a little bit of tea would be nice if you can spare it.” Mordechai haGibor answered.

Mordechai haGibor looked at Yossele and asked, “you are the poorest of the poor and yet every Shabbos and Yom Tov (holiday) you and your family seem to be the happiest of all people. How is this possible?”

Yossele smiled and answered his neighbor, “because the Holy One, blessed be He provides for everything I need and my family and I are so grateful for all of his gifts.”

Simcha Eye

A tear fell from Mordechai haGibor’s eye as he talked to his neighbor, “I have so much wealth so much power and yet I am not happy. I cannot find joy in Shabbos nor can I find peace in any of the holidays and yet you with hardly anything sit at your Shabbos and holiday table like nobility.”

“You are right my neighbor, it is as though I am dead because I do not celebrate from my heart. Everything I do is from my pocket. I thank you my neighbor for saving me and teaching me a valuable lesson. For the first time in my life I really understand the words ‘V’ahavta eis Hashem Elokecha, b’chol l’vav’cha, u-v’chol nafsh’cha, u-v’chol m’odecha.’ (And 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) I had forgotten that everything I have are gifts from haKadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy One, blessed be He and from this time on I will do the best I can to celebrate Shabbos and yom tov (holidays) with happiness. I completely forgot, though I say it every day in the Shema, ‘V’hayu ha-d’va-rim ha-ei-leh, Asher ano-chi mi-tzvaecha ha-yom al li-vavecha.’ (And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.) (Deuteronomy 6:6) from this day forward I will do the best I can to keep the words of Torah in my heart and not depend upon my pocket for all of my needs.”

Mordechai haGibor broke down and began to cry, “you were right Yossele I was dead, but you have given me hope and a new outlook. Baruch atah Adoshem, m’chayei hameisim.”  (Blessed are You L-rd, Who revives the dead.) (part of the daily Shemonah Esrei prayers)

Mordechai haGibor left Yossele’s succah a completely different person. From that day on all that was heard from Mordechai haGibor’s home in Shabbos and yom tov were sounds of song, happiness and words of hope.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace) 

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read another Succos/Sukkot or Succot  story on the Story Tour Blog see To Build a Succah of Peace 

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

 

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Healing and Comforting Words

It was the practice of Tam and Chacham to walk together in the late afternoon. One day they were approached by a sick man during their walk. The sick man asked the two holy rabbis what he should do to be cured.

Chacham advised the sick man to pray to Av haRachaman (Father of Mercy) for a recovery from his pain and sickness as it is written: “Heal me, O L-rd, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise. “ (Jeremiah 17:14)

The sick man looked at Chacham and quietly explained, I cannot pray very well and my voice is but a very small voice becxause of my pain and sickness.

Tam saw the pain of the sick man and comforted him by reminding him that the Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses Our Teacher) taught us in the Torah (Scriptures), “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”  (Deuteronomy 30:19) Tam continued, “Be strong and of good courage; have no fear . . . for the Eternal One, your G-d, is the One who goes with you, never failing you or forsaking you. (Deuteronomy 31:5) and always remember that the words of the Holy One, blessed be He  ‘I see your journey, and I bring healing. I will guide you and bring solace to you. Says the Eternal G-d: I will heal you!’ ” (Isaiah 57:18-19)

Jewish Healing

Tam and Chacham spoke for a long time with the sick man when a farmer, who had been listening said to them, said, “You’re interfering in something that’s none of your business! G-d afflicted him with illness and you want to heal him?”

Chacham answered, “Don’t you as a farmer do the same?” Tam added, “The Master of the Universe created the earth, but you have to plow, till, fertilize and cultivate it if you want the land to produce a harvest. ‘As for man, his days are as grass’ (Psalms 103:15). The human body is the tree, the medicine is the fertilizer and the physician is the tiller of the earth. Besides ‘The L-rd created medicines out of the earth, and the sensible man will not despise them.’ “ (ben Sira/ Sirach 38:4)

Based on Midrash Shmuel 52a

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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The King’s Messengers

The king’s messenger summoned a person to come to the palace at once. When the man saw that the messenger was wearing black garments and had an angry look on his face, he was immedi­ately gripped by a feeling of terror, for perhaps he was destined to receive a harsh punishment from the king.

There was a wise man standing nearby who soothed the man’s anxiety:

“What do you have to fear from the messenger?” he said. “He cannot do anything to you without a direct command from the king. Therefore, instead of being fearful and worrying, examine your deeds. If you know that you are free of any transgression, you would do well to hurry to the palace as the king commanded and hear what he has to say”

On another occasion, the king’s messenger summoned a different person to appear before the king. This time, however, the messenger was dressed in bright-colored clothes and was very happy as well as smiling. The man was overjoyed and he began to dance.

A wise man turned to him and said:

“What do you have to dance about? Who really knows if this messenger is the bearer of good news or not? Do not be misled by the happy expression on his face; rather, think about whether you are truly loyal to the king. If you are, then the messenger is bringing you good tidings, but if you have sinned against the king, Heaven forbid, then evil has been determined against you…”

A person should not judge himself according to whether an event which befalls him is good or bad. Rather, he must constantly examine himself in order to know whether he is loyal to the King,  or Heaven forbid, has sinned against Him.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

Hineni – Different Kinds of Prayer

How Much Remorse?

Just One Small Blast from the Great Shofar

The King, the Forester and Teshuvah

Foundations of the World

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

How to be Forgiven of Sin

Repentance and the Captive Prince

Repentance Out of Love

The Humble Request of the King’s Son

The King, the Thief the True Penitant

A Rock and the King’s Greatness

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.

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Hineni – Different Kinds of Prayer

During the High Holy Days, the chazzan (cantor) begins the Musaf service with the Hineni prayer (here I am), which is a very moving and private prayer.  Serving as the Shaliach Tzibbur (emissary of the congregation), the chazzan, a man of great humility, pleads with the Almighty that he be worthy to represent the people of his congregation and all the people of Israel.

Shaliach Tzibbur literally means the messenger of a congregation in a public prayer, is a Jewish prayer leader in the Synagogue also known as Chazzan (Cantor). It is a weighty responsibility and not everyone is suited to the position.

In a village there lived a very wealthy man who thought that he should be chosen to lead the congregation in prayer because of his importance to everyone in the village. No one in the village was pleased with the idea, but on the other hand they were afraid of what might happen to them if they were to challenge the powerful wealthy man. So they put their troubled heads together and decided to send a delegation to ask the holy rabbi who lived in a nearby town for some advice. The holy rabbi suggested that the wealthy man, the self-appointed prayer leader should come to him for a blessing.

When in due course the self-appointed baal tefillah (prayer leader) of the village came to the holy rabbi to receive his blessing before under¬taking the weighty responsibility of leading his community in prayer, the holy rabbi asked him’ “why should you lead the community in prayer?” The wealthy man took a deep breath and began to explain how he gave a lot of tzedakah (charity), he had built many homes in the village and that he employed most of the villagers.

 The holy rabbi listened and then explained, “As you know, the Torah speaks of three kinds of prayer.

There is

Prayer of Moses

‘the prayer of Moshe Rabbeinu’ (Moses our Teacher);

There is

Prayer of King David

‘the prayer of King David’; and

 There is

Poor Man's Prayer

 ‘the prayer of a poor man.’

Now Moshe Rabbeinu was indeed ‘slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ (Exodus 4: 10) — but he was the father of the prophets and the teacher of all Israel. King David — why, he is called ‘the sweet singer of Israel.’ (2 Samuel 23:1) And as for the poor man, his heart is humble, and we know from Psalms that ‘a broken and contrite heart, O G-d, You will not despise.’ (Psalm 51:17)

“Now the baalei tefillah of our days who lead their congregations in prayer likewise fall into these same three categories. There are those who are not very musical, but they are righteous — so their prayers are ac¬cepted like ‘the prayer of Moshe.’ Then there are those who are perhaps not quite so righteous, but in their melodiousness they ‘exalt God with their throats’ — so their prayers are accepted like ‘the prayer of David.’ Finally, there are those who are neither righteous nor musical, but since they are poor and their hearts are humble, their prayers are accepted like ‘the prayer of a poor man.’

“Now as for you,” concluded the tzaddik, “we cannot say that you are especially righteous; nor can we say that you are musical; and neither (thank G-d) are you a poor man. So if you want to lead your community in prayer. I will have to pray that you merit to fit into one of these three levels. There is no need for me to explain to you that to ask heaven to make you a tzaddik a sweet singer all of a sudden would be a vain prayer. The only way I can help you, therefore, is by asking heaven to make you poor, and then at least your prayer ‘the prayer of a poor man’…”

The wealthy man thought for sometime about what the holy rabbi had said and became intensely aware of his great pride in the many sins he had committed in his arrogance caused by his great wealth. He began to cry and asked that the holy rabbi tell them how to do teshuvah in order to be forgiven. The wealthy man was at a loss on what to do.

Holy rabbi sensed the sincerity of the wealthy man and with a gentle voice asked him, “do you really want to pray on behalf of the community?”

The wealthy man, in a broken voice, answered, “I am not a particularly holy man like Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher} and I don’t have an exceptionally good singing voice like Dovid haMelech (King David), but I am a man of a poor broken spirit because of the many sins I have committed in my pride and arrogance. If I could, I still would like to lead the prayer on Rosh Hashanah so that I could be heard by the heavenly court.”

The holy rabbi took the wealthy’s man’s hand and in a soothing voice said, “you have a gift that many people do not have is that you are very educated and cannot only say the words of the prayers of the holy and awesome Day of Judgment (Rosh Hashanah), but you can understand them also. Read for me the Hineni.”

Hineni Prayer

The wealthy man took a deep breath and began, “hineni he’oni mimaas” and than he began to cry, “go on” encouraged the holy rabbi and slowly the words came from the wealthy man:

hineni he’oni mimaas – Here am I that am poor in meritorious deeds, trembling and in awe of the One who sits enthroned upon the praises of Israel, standing and pleading before Him on behalf of His people Israel who have sent me, though I am unworthy and unqualified for the task.

Therefore I ask you G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac, and G-d of Jacob, L-rd, L-rd,  benevolent G-d, compassionate and gracious, G-d of Israel, Omnipotent, fearful and awesome, grant success to the mission which I am undertaking. To stand and plead for mercy for myself and those who sent me.

Please do not hold them to blame for my sins and do not find them guilty of my iniquities, for I am a careless and willful sinner. Let them not feel humiliated by my willful sins. Let them not be ashamed of me and let me not be ashamed of them. Accept my prayer like the prayers of a man advanced in years and experienced in prayer, whose conduct in his youth was unblemished, whose beard is fully grown, whose voice is sweet, and who is friendly with other people.

May you denounce the Adversary, that he may not bring charges against me. They are congregation be cherished by you, and they you cover our transgressions with love. Please transform all suffering and distress, for us and for all Israel, to gladness and joy, to life and peace (for the people who) love truth and peace. May there be no stumbling in my prayer.

May be your will, L-rd, G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac and G-d of Jacob, the great, mighty and awesome G-d, exalted G-d, “I will be what I will be,” that all the angels who occupy themselves with our prayers bring my prayer before the throne of your glory and spread it before you for the sake of all the righteous, the pious, the perfect and the upright, and for the sake of your glorious, great and awesome name; for you hear the prayer of your people Israel with mercy.

Blessed are you who hears prayer.

It took the wealthy man over an hour to be able to say the prayer of the shliach tzibbur (leader of the prayers), but it seemed his heart had changed in his sins had been washed away by his tears. A very humble wealthy man turned to the holy rabbi and asked, “Rabbi, holy rabbi can you bless me that when I pray with everyone else that I can truly not feel any urges to ‘take revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love my neighbor as myself’ (Leviticus 19:18), bless me that all of my prayers should come from the inside of me.’ ”

The wealthy man left the holy rabbi that day a different person who came. On the way back to his home he gave away huge amounts of coins to all who needed and prepared himself to pray with the people and not in front of them on Rosh Hashanah that year.

May all of your prayers and the prayers of all the people this Rosh Hashanah ascend to the very throne of mercy and may hush M shower the world with health, happiness and peace. On Yom Kippur may you be sealed for a year of plenty, sweetness and love.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

How to be Forgiven of Sin

Repentance and the Captive Prince

Repentance Out of Love

The Humble Request of the King’s Son

The King, the Thief the True Penitant

A Rock and the King’s Greatness

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 

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How Much Remorse?

Tam and Chacham were visited by many people as they prepared for Yom haDin – Day of Judgment, another name for Rosh Hashanah. The requests for prayer and blessings from people were steady. Life was hard with uncertain livelihood and the constant barrage of “modern” thought that challenged the age old wisdom. This was the season of hope and people were seeking advice and direction from Tam and Chacham.

An old man came to Tam and Chacham and requested, “I have reached a ripe old age, and thank Baruch Hashem am lacking nothing. Only one thing I want and that is that you should promise me that I will be granted forgiveness for the sins of my youth.”

Chacham thought for a moment and instructed the old man, “The RaMBaM (Maimonides) taught that ‘If a man transgresses, wittingly or unwittingly, any precept of the Torah, whether a positive precept or a negative, and repents and turns away from his wrongdoing, he is obliged to confess his sins to the Holy One, blessed be He. How does a man confess his sins? He says: ‘O G-d! I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed before You by doing such­-and–such. Behold now I am sorry for what I have done and am ashamed and I shall never do it again.’ “  (Mishneh Torah: Hilchos. Teshuvah Chapter 1, Law 2)

Chacham continued, “You must light two candles – One for the heart and the other for the soul. Take upon yourself to fast for three days, during which you should pray with a broken heart:

Our G-d and G-d of our ancestors! Let our prayers come before You and do not hide Yourself from our supplication. For neither are we so arrogant nor hardened to say, “We are righteous and have not sinned,” for truly, truly, we have sinned. May it be Your will, O Lord our God, to forgive all our sins, and pardon all our iniquities.” (Ma’ariv l’Yom Kippur Service)

The old man looked at Chacham with tears in his eyes and said,  “I will do the best I can to follow your directions, but I am a weak old man and am afraid I will not be able to complete all that you have told me.”

Tam saw the look in the old man’s eyes and asked, “do you truly regret the sins of your youth?”

“I am ashamed of what I did and now wish I could undo my sins. I wish I could ask for forgiveness, but there is no one to ask as many have gone on to the World of Truth.” Answered the old man.

Tam reminded the old man, “Yom Kippur does not forgive transgressions between a man and his fellow — until (or unless) he seeks forgiveness from him” (Mishnah Yoma 8:9), but the first step is to forgive yourself. Only then can you truly express regret and seek forgiveness.”

The old man, his face streaked with tears whispered, “I really regret my foolish acts and wish I could take them back.”

“If you regret the sins of your youth completely, then that secures their forgiveness.” Tam responded.

“And what in your eyes is the required measure of remorse?” asked the old man.

Tam thought for some time and then began, “”Let me tell you a story, there once was a wealthy merchant who was in a rush to arrive at the big fair in the city before all the other merchants, and the wagonloads of goods that he brought with him were very much in demand.

The day he arrived in the city it began to rain. The rain and wind was so bad, that for a number of days no other merchant was able to bring his merchan­dise to the fair. All the prospective customers therefore milled around his stand. Seeing how intense was the de­mand, he decided to keep them all waiting for a few days so that the price would rise. And indeed, from day to day the rain fell harder and day by day the price rose higher. Then in the middle of the night the rain stopped. Before dawn the marketplace was clattering with all the wagons that were trundling in from all over the land and the price of his goods dropped instantly.

“Now, then,” concluded Tam. “if you find that your remorse over the sins of your youth is as intense as the regret of that merchant when he realized how much his greed had cost him, then you may be sure that your regret is sufficient to secure you forgiveness.”

Teshuvah Tefillah Tzedakah

The old man asked, “I am really sorry for the pain caused by the sins of my youth, but wonder can I surely be forgiven? How can I be sure that I can be forgiven?”

Tam answered, “As soon as one repents, one is forgiven. (Chagigah 5a)  This is why we sing the ancient words:

אבנו מלכנו חננו ועננו  כי אין בנו  עשים  עשה עשה עמנו צדקה וחסד  והשענו

Avinu Malkeinu Choneinu Vaaneinu Ki ein Banu Maasim Ase Imanu Tzdaka Vahesed Vehoshieinu

Our Father, our King! be gracious unto us and answer us, for we have no good works of our own; deal with us in charity and kindness,​ and save us. 

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

How to be Forgiven of Sin

Repentance and the Captive Prince

Repentance Out of Love

The Humble Request of the King’s Son

The King, the Thief the True Penitant

A Rock and the King’s Greatness

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

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Just One Small Blast from the Great Shofar

Chacham had a student that was an orphan and he would spend much time with him. They would learn together, walk through the forests and ponder the secrets found in the Holy writings. One year, right after Tisha B’Av, the boy became sick.

Chacham took the shofar on the first day of the month of Elul and tested it to see whether it was in good condition. The student was in the room and the sound of the shofar touched him in such a way that his color began to return to his cheeks.

He asked his beloved teacher for one more blast, and Chacham gladly obliged. From then on, for the remainder of the month of Elul, this became a ritual; Chacham blowing the shofar once each day for his sick student. On the day before Rosh Hashanah, the orphan was there, waiting to hear the shofar, but he was disappointed.

“I am sorry, but today we do not blow the shofar. Tomorrow morning, we will blow the shofar in the shul (synagogue).” Chacham explained.

The student looked at his beloved teacher with tears in his eyes and asked, “I am sick to my very soul and my body is weak. The call of the shofar gives me comfort, strengthens me and makes me feel better. Please just one blast! Just one small blast!”

Chacham was touched by the beseeching voice of his student and slowly brought the shofar to his lips and blew one blast.

On Rosh Hashanah, everyone expected Chacham to blow the shofar. That year, Chacham went up before the aron kodesh (Holy Ark) where the Torah scrolls were, opened it and said: ” Ribbono shel Olam, Master of the Universe, I have to repent. It’s written that on the day before Rosh Hashanah one must not blow shofar, yet I did.”

He broke down it tears and called out: “Ribbono shel Olam, Master of the Universe, do you know why I transgressed this custom? It was because my young student lay on his sickbed begging and crying that I should only blow one blast of the shofar for him. My heart melted, I couldn’t bear to watch him cry and be in pain, so I blew once for him, though I shouldn’t have.

Avinu Malkeinu Story

“Avinu, Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King), how can you stand by and see how millions of Your children are sick to their very souls and crying out to You, Av haRachamim (Father of Mercy), just one small blast! Sound the blast of the great shofar which will herald the final Redemption!  Even if the time is not right for it yet, even if the time for Moshiach has yet to arrive, Your children cry out to You. Please just one small sound to rekindle our hope.”

The sounding of the shofar was delayed, and for a long time crying from broken hearts was heard throughout the shul (synagogue…).”

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

A Rock and the King’s Greatness

How to be Forgiven of Sin

Repentance and the Captive Prince

Repentance Out of Love

The Humble Request of the King’s Son

The King, the Thief the True Penitant

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

 If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 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

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The King, the Forester and Teshuvah

A king was once riding through a forest and was so taken by the beauty and wonder around him that he became lost. He rode on for a very long until he met a forester who recognized the king and offered to escort the king back to the royal palace. Along the way the king and the forester spoke about many things and the king became very fond of the forester. The forester even sang an ancient melody from the oldest wood. The king invited the forester to remain on the royal estate as the chief forester and keeper of the King’s Grove.

Many years passed and the forester served the king as best as he could. Rumours reached the king that the forester may have been rebellious against the king. The king was angry and disappointed, but due to the nature of the reports he received he sentenced the forester to death. Before he was taken out to be executed, the king had the forester brought before him and granted him one last request.

The forester respectfully requested the he be able to wear the clothes he wore the day he met the King when he was lost in the forest, and that be able to sing the ancient melody from the oldest wood.

The king granted the forester’s wish, looked at him and remembered that day they met so many years ago. The king closed his eyes and listened to the ancient melody and his heart was melted. The king’s anger gave way to mercy and he proclaimed “By your life, you have saved yourself,” and called off the execution.

Forest Teshuvah Tree

Everyday we say “Hear, O Israel: The L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One. And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) We must realize that when we say: “And you shall love the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:5), which means that you shall make the name of Heaven beloved…. Great is repentance: it brings healing to the world.” (Yoma 86a)

Throughout the year people may have inadvertently or accidentally sinned while others have deliberately transgressed and rebelled. In any case, like the forester in the story, the arrival of Rosh Hashanah – the Day of Judgment we are fearful indeed. He reminds us that one must “Humble yourself here and you won’t be humbled hereafter.” (Exodus Rabbah 30:19)

So we blow the shofar to recall the shofar blowing that accompanied our original acceptance of the Torah and coronation of G‑d. The sound of the shofar stirs us to seek forgiveness and repentance. This merit stands by us, and G‑d forgives us all our sins and inscribes us in the Book of Life for a year of goodness and hope.

LShana Tovah Rosh Hashanah Greeting

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

How to be Forgiven of Sin

Repentance and the Captive Prince

Repentance Out of Love

The Humble Request of the King’s Son

The King, the Thief the True Penitant

A Rock and the King’s Greatness

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

 If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

 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

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Foundations of the World

Every year, as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year approaches, it is greeted with solemn prayers, introspection and deep thought. One custom shared in common, however, is the review of one’s behavior and a commitment to try to correct the mistakes made during the past year. It blends solemnity, self examination and joy, while requiring accountability in the process of generating hope.  Rosh Hashanah is the day on which G-d judges the world, and hopefully  inscribed in the “Book of Life.”

Rosh Hashanah has its own special sound, the shofar, which is sounded during the month of Elul (preceding the holiday) and throughout the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah was originally called “Yom Teruah” (Day of Blowing the Shofar). The sounding the shofar reminds and gathers people for self-judgment, self-improvement and repentance. It announces that Holy One, blessed be He is forgiving and merciful, and will judge the world with mercy.

One Rosh HaShanah, when it was time to blow the shofar, Eliyahu haNovi (Elijah the Prophet) and another old man ap­peared to Tam, and told him that the voices of the accusing forces were strong in the Heavenly Court. The world indeed was about to be cast into darkness, chaos and destruction — if not for two holy souls who supported it with prayer, deeds and teaching, and prevented the world from collapse.

“And who is this ancient and honored guest who stands here beside you?” Tam asked Eliyahu haNovi.

“Why, this is Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father),” replied the Prophet.

“And who are the two holy souls who support the world?” Tam asked.

“One of them is Chacham,” answered Eliyahu haNovi

“And who is the second?” asked Tam.

“I have already revealed too much to you and can not tell you anymore on this matter.” responded the Eliyahu haNovi.

After Rosh HaShanah, Tam went to Chacham to offer his greetings and blessings.  Chacham greeted him as he opened the door: “Shalom Aleichem! (Peace be unto you) You no doubt know that if not for the two of us the world was at the point of collapse.”

And only then did Tam discover that he was the other holy soul.

Rosh Hashanah

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more Rosh Hashanah stories see below:

A Prescription for Life

Philmont, Horses and Rosh haShanah

Rosh haHashanah: Forgiving A Debt

The Deaf Man of the Shul

The Dirty Treasure

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

If the stories are not shared they will be lost. 

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 

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A Cry to the King

There once was a wise king who had a son he loved very much. The king knew that one day his son would ascend the throne and wear the royal crown and so he wanted him to learn about the world and government. He sent his son to learn wisdom and skills from the many lands throughout the world.

The king made sure that his son had everything he needed including gold and silver as well as a well provisioned ship. With a pain in his heart, the king watched as the ship faded in the distance.

The prince, being young, lost his fortune as he traveled through many lands. Many years passed and one day the prince realized that he was without any means to take care of his needs. Sadly, he decided to return to his father’s palace and began his long hard journey home. After a long time, he arrived at the courtyard gate to his father’s palace.

In the long time he had traveled, he had forgotten how the language was spoken in his native country, and he was unable to identify himself to the guards. He was tired, confused and hopeless and in his despair he began to cry out in a loud voice. The King, who happened to be walking the battlements, recognized the voice of his beloved son. Hearing the crying of his son, the King went out to him and brought him into the palace, welcoming him with tight embraces and kisses.

Shofr Sounds

We see from this story that: The King is G d. The prince is the Jewish people, who are called the “Children of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10). The King sends a soul down to this world in order “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d (Micah 6:8) and to fulfill the words of Torah and mitzvos.

However, the soul becomes very distant and forgets everything to which it was accustomed to above, and in the long exile it forgets even its own “language.” So it utters a simple cry to its Father in Heaven. This is the blowing of the shofar, a cry from deep within, expressing regret for the past and determination for the future. This cry brings about G d’s mercies, and He demonstrates His abiding affection for His child and forgives him.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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

 If the stories are not shared they will be lost.

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