Once a prince angered his father, the king. Furious, the king banished his son from the palace without giving him a penny. His son wandered from city to city, collecting alms and barely managing to take care of himself.
When he grew weary of collecting charity, he made his way to the house of an elderly villager and offered to perform any form of labor that he desired, be it in the house or the field.
The villager took the young boy into his home, and the man was not disappointed. The boy worked with great vigor and performed any task that his master requested, whether it was working in the fields or tending to the animals. In exchange, the villager allowed the boy to board in his home, and he provided him with a meager meal as well.
One day, the villager died and his estate fell into the hands of his son. Trouble soon arose, however, as the son was a wicked man who increased the workloads of all of the villager’s servants while at the same time decreasing their benefits.
Meanwhile, the king was in his palace in the capital city. He was sad and depressed over not having received any word of his son throughout the past several years, and not having any idea where he was or what he was doing. He therefore decided to travel around his kingdom and proclaim wherever he went that whoever had a request to make of the king or a grievance that needed to be settled was invited to come before him and state his claim.
Indeed, wherever the king went, long lines formed, consisting of the heavily burdened as well as dispute between parties, in order to relate their troubles to the king.
The king’s travels eventually brought him to the city in which his son resided. The son, as well, was among the individuals who lined up to speak with the king, and when it came his turn, he fell before the king and cried, “Your Highness! I work for a certain villager who forces me to do overbearing labor! I beg of you, order him to provide me with bread each day and not to oppress me so…”
The king fell on his son’s neck and exclaimed:
“Woe is me, that I must see you in such a state! Are you so heavily burdened that you have completely forgotten about your esteemed lineage? You are the son of a king, and your place is in the palace of kings. Instead of asking me for stale bread, ask me for permission to return to the palace!”
The Jewish Nation are the children of princes, kings and priests, but the darkness of exile and the oppression we have endured have caused us to forget this fact. We therefore stand in prayer and request no more than a slice of bread.
We must beseech Hashem to renew our days as of old! (see Lam. 5:22).
May all your Tales end with Shalom
Chazal state (Berachos 34b), “R’ Ahahu said: In the place where ba’alei teshuvah (a true penitent) stand, tzaddikim gemurim (the purely righteous who have been untainted by sin) do not stand.”
There was a king who reigned over his entire kingdom with justice and wisdom. On one occasion, the king wished to discover his subjects’ true feelings regarding his rule, and so he disguised himself as a beggar, and went out in the streets.
As he roamed the alleyways, he was attacked by a band of cruel thieves. They wished to harm him, but one of the thieves, a spark of mercy for the beggar having flickered in his heart, fiercely defended him against his attackers, even helping him escape to safety.
The king returned to his palace and, some time later, arranged a lavish seudas hada’ah (lit., a feast of thanksgiving.), to which he invited all of the ministers and distinguished members of the kingdom. He also invited the thief who had saved him from the clutches of his partners.
The thief sat there in his simple attire and felt rather uncomfortable in the presence of the ministers who were dressed so elegantly. The ministers as well stared at the thief in utter bewilderment:
what place did this lowly individual have at the king’s feast?
The king noticed the puzzled expressions on the faces of the ministers. He therefore called over the thief and sat him down alongside him in a display of great honor. He then related to his guests what had transpired and how this thief had saved his life.
So too, it is in relation to repentance. The Torah states (Hoshea 14:2), “Return, Israel, unto Hashem your G-d.” When an individual repents and becomes a ba’al teshuvah, he draws closer to Hashem like the thief who, through saving the king, repented and in effect anointed the king over the entire land. In a similar vein, when a ba’al teshuvah overcomes his yetzer hara, he annoints Hashem King of the world as a result. The prophet Joel taught that one should “Rend your heart, not your garments and turn to the L-rd” (Joel 2:13) In this world “a king of flesh and blood insists upon having his decrees carried out. Hashem, the Holy One, blessed be He, does not act so, for He desires one’s repentance, so that He can have any excuse to annul His decrees” (Rosh haShanah 57a). It is good when one thinks about repentance and follows it with action and deed.
For the sake of one true penitent, the whole world is pardoned. (Yoma 86b)
l’Shana Tova May Everyone Be Blessed with a Good and Sweet Year
May all your Tales end with Shalom
In a certain city lived an very wealthy merchant who sold a lot of goods to the merchants living near his home town.
When it was time for the fair to be held, the merchant let everyone know that he wanted to travel to the fair so he could buy new and outstanding goods. For that reason the wealthy merchant urged all who owed him money to come and pay their debts.
Among those who owed him money was a merchant whose home had unfortunately burned down. All of his property had been consumed in the flames as well, leaving him penniless.
He was utterly distressed and ashamed at the thought of having to face the wealthy man. “How can I have the nerve to come before him empty-handed?” he asked.
“Just go to him and tell him the truth. There is nothing better than that!” advised his friends.
The merchant listened their advice and set out to see the wealthy man.
Sitting in the wealthy man’s waiting room, the poor merchant was unable to control himself and began to cry bitterly. The sound of the crying touched the wealthy man’s heart, and he asked to know why the poor man was crying. Soon after, the merchant’ s sad story was told to him.
The wealthy man felt pity for the unfortunate merchant; when the man was brought in to him he embraced him and and lovingly explained:
“Do not feel the least bit distressed. I hereby completely forgive you of your debt.” He then tore the bill of debt into shreds.
The merchant abundantly thanked the wealthy man and went on his way. The matter soon became known to the members of the community and. eventually spread to the public at large as well.
Among those who heard about it was a crook who decided to swindle the wealthy man.
He traveled to the wealthy man’s home, and upon taking a seat in the waiting room, began to wail loudly.
“What are you crying about?” shouted the wealthy man.
“I desperately need two thousand rubles,” he cried. “I beg of you, please give me the entire sum.”
“I am very sorry,” answered the wealthy man, “but I am simply unable to give you such a large amount of money.”
“But you forgave the other merchant from a debt of an equal amount,” insisted the disappointed crook.
“You fool,” said the wealthy man. “That individual owed me a great deal of money, and I knew that he did not have a penny to his name with which to repay me — what would I have gained had I not absolved his debt? Will I get my money back? That is why I forgave his debt. But as for you, I have absolutely no business with you – why should I acquiesce to giving you a sum of two thousand rubles? Should I give it to you simply because you are crying?”
The prayer, Unsaneh Tokef, speaks of many dire situations one may face during the year but concludes with the verse:
“But Repentance, Prayer and Tzedakah (charity) avert the severe decree.”
When a person repents honestly, he regrets his misdeeds, and cries to the Holy One, blessed be He that He forgive him for his sins — G-d immediately forgives him. But if a foolish individual thinks to himself, “I will sin, repent, sin again, repent once again, and even cry over my sins afterwards” — his repentance will not be accepted!
May you all be inscribed and sealed for a good year in the Book of Life
The rabbis of old taught that:
“In the place where those who return and truly repent stand, the purely righteous who have never sinned can not stand.” Beracho 34b
The Captive Prince
A king had two mighty and courageous sons. One day, the king went out to battle his enemies, and his two sons went with him as commanders in his army. Each son led his soldiers into battle. The sons fought with much strength and bravery, but the enemy was able to surround one of the sons. The battle raged on, but at the end he was taken captive by the enemy. The king’s son suffered in the enemy prison, starving and deprived, and after a full year, he finally succeeded in digging a tunnel so that he could escape from the dismal prison. The prince ran away, crossing over rivers and lakes, and trekking through forests and over mountains. After a while, he finally returned to his father’s home. How great was the happiness and joy in the king’s palace upon the prince’s return. Large celebrations were held in his honor, and the king sat him to his right and showered him with gifts. Without a doubt, this son’s joy is ten times greater than a son who had never left his father’s home.
This is the identical happiness that a person feels when he returns in complete repentance to his Father in Heaven. His joy is ten times greater than one who has never sinned, for only once a person has saved himself from sin can he truly perceive the taste of “captivity.”
L’Shana Tova May Everyone Be Blessed with a Good and Sweet Year
May all your Tales end with Shalom
A king was traveling along the road leading a large group of advisors and knights. Their journey led them to the edge of a field that was surrounded by a fence. Since they were pressed for time, the king ordered that the fence be torn down so they could pass through.
The field was owned by a simple hard working villager. He did not know the king at all and thought that the men who had broken the fence to his field were a group of hunters. He became angry and threw stones and dirt at them; one of the stones struck the king in the head.
The simple villager was immediately seized by the king’s men and brought to trial. It did not take long for the court to reach a decision. The farmer was sentenced to death for his crime of rebelling against the king.
Seeing that the villager had entirely no grasp of just how serious his act had been, the king had mercy on him and annulled the verdict.
The villager would not go unpunished, however, as the king ordered him to clean the streets of the capital city.
The man was first instructed to clean the streets that were quite a distance away from the king’s palace. Next he cleaned the areas immediately surrounding the palace, and ultimately the king’s courtyard. With each area that he cleaned, the villager began to understand the scale of the kingdom and just how powerful and awesome the king truly was. Having arrived at this understanding, it also dawned on him to what degree he had wronged the king and just how severe his crime had been.
When he had concluded his task, he turned to the minister in charge and requested that he bring him before the king so that he would be able to ask him for his forgiveness.
A man who sins does not have any understanding of Hashem’s greatness and therefore stumble and sins on occasion. Had he understood how powerful and awesome the Holy One, blessed be He is, he would plead and request for forgiveness for his soul.
May you be inscribed for a year of blessings, sweetness, success and health
May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)
Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year) is coming very soon. This is a time for all Jewish people to reflect and seek forgiveness for deeds of the past year. Repentance is the goal of every Jewish person during this time of the year. One can repent out of fear or out of love for the Holy One, blessed be He.
Repentance Out of Love
The rabbis of old taught that (Yoma 86b):
“Great is repentance out of love, for it turns sins into merits.”
Explaining the lofty level of repentance that is motivated by love of the Holy One, Blessed be He and why it is preferable to repentance motivated by fear of the Holy One, blessed be He is indeed a difficult task. It is brought down that once:
A thief came upon the idea to steal from the king’s treasury, and he spent many days figuring out how he could dig a tunnel beneath it. Having completed his passageway, he would enter and fill his sacks with the many treasures that lay inside the vast room. He finally worked out a plan and, one night, dug a tunnel.
His planning had not been exact enough, and instead of leading to the king’s treasury, the tunnel led into the great hall next to it. The thief entered the dark corridor and felt around, but did not find any riches at all. He was very disappointed and so he turned around and escaped before the sun came up.
That very same night, a different thief attempted to break into the king’s treasury as well. He, too, dug a tunnel, but unlike the first thief, he managed to successfully enter the treasury and fill his sacks with the king’s treasures. Before he left, however, he stopped for a moment and thought,
“How could I be so bold as to steal from the king himself? Why, I am obligated to honor him”
The thief emptied his bags completely and escaped to his home. When day broke, the king’s subjects noticed that there were two openings that were dug into the palace walls, but the careful investigation revealed that not a thing was missing from the treasury.
The king very much wanted to know the reason behind this strange occurrence, so he ordered that a full investigation be made by his trusted sheriff. In a very short time, the king’s sheriff brought the two thieves before him, and the king interrogated them, asking them to explain their actions. “I will not deny it,” said the first thief. “I entered the king’s treasury but did not find a thing. Since I feared that daybreak was near, I escaped in order to save myself.” The king immediately ordered that the thief be taken to the dungeon.
“I,” confessed the second thief, “entered the treasury and even took whatever I could. Suddenly I realized and understood that what I was about to do was a very bad thing which was an insult to the king’s honor. Out of love for the king, I decided on the spot to not follow through with this wicked deed.” When the king heard this, he sent the man home and even granted him many gifts.
So, too, in relation to repentance, it is a great honor to the King of the World when a person repents out of love!
Rosh HaShanah is just a few days away. People all around the world are trying to make amends for mistakes of the past year.
May all your Tales end with Shalom