A king wished to build a magnificent palace for himself, the likes of which had never before been seen. The king’s officers therefore hired a world-renowned architect who was known to be an expert in his field.
The architect was brought before the king and, shortly thereafter, presented him an extraordinary blueprint for a palace that would be both enormous and awe-inspiring.
The blueprint found favor in the eyes of the king, and he gave orders to commence construction at once. He had but one request to make of the architect, however: He desired that the palace be completed on the anniversary of his ascension to the throne. He would then stage a gala celebration, during which the new palace would be dedicated.
The builders expended much effort and, indeed, a glorious new palace, whose beauty was unmatched by any other edifice, stood completed one month before the designated time.
In order to paint the palace walls, the king hired four expert painters. Each one was assigned one wall and was instructed to paint it with vibrant and cheerful colors.
Three out of the four painters began working immediately. They mixed colors together and decorated the walls with many wonderful designs and patterns. One of the painters, however, sat carelessly by and did not begin painting.
“Why have you not begun working?” asked one of the painters. “If you do not start now, you will be unable to finish in time!”
“Don’t worry,” responded the painter. “I will have plenty of time to finish.”
Nearly one month later, the three painters had produced walls of sheer beauty; a fantastic kaleidoscope of colors blended harmoniously into matching patterns that were amazing to behold. The fourth wall, however, stood embarrassingly empty of any color or magnificence whatsoever.
One day before the king’s anniversary, the painter went to the palace and hung large mirrors on the fourth wall that reflected the other three walls. Now the fourth wall appeared to be painted as well, and it looked quite splendid.
When the king entered the palace and beheld its sheer beauty, he was ecstatic. Wishing to show his appreciation for his workers’ efforts, the king ordered his servants to bring in three bags filled with gold coins and jewelry.
He then instructed them to hang the bags on the three painted walls.
“Here you go,” said the king to the painters. “Your reward is hanging on the wall that you painted.”
“But what about my reward?” asked the clever fourth painter. “Your reward,” answered the king, “is reflected in the mirror that you hung on the wall…”
The lesson of this story is quite clear – the reward is in proportion to the exertion (Pirkei Avos 5:26)!
May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)
A king’s son was once walking along the way, when he reached a fork in the road. Suddenly, a band of thieves attacked him, intent on murdering him. Much to his good fortune, however, a poor man dressed in rags happened to be walking along the road at that very moment. When he saw the thieves, he gathered up his courage and in a display of great strength, set upon the thieves with his walking stick and saved the king’s son.
Upon hearing of the poor man’s brave deeds, the king had him summoned before him. When the poor man arrived, the king thanked him and exclaimed, “As a reward for having saved my son, I hereby permit you to spend an entire day in the royal treasury; you may take anything that your heart desires.”
When the gates of the royal treasury were opened for the poor man, he joyously fell upon the massive piles of gold and diamonds, and began to gather all that he could.
When evening settled in and the poor man left the royal treasury, he had completely changed. In one day, he had gone from being a destitute beggar to a very wealthy man. The next day, this former poor man went into business, and in a short while he became extremely successful. He now became one of the wealthiest men in the land, and he completely forgot about his former life of poverty.
Every year, the former poor man staged a huge feast on the day that he had been blessed with the good fortune of entering the royal treasury. He invited all of his friends and relatives to the feast, and it was a custom that lasted for many years.
One year in the middle of the feast, the wealthy man turned to his friends and asked, “Which day of my life do you think was the happiest of all for me?”
“It must be this very day,” responded the guests. “This day on which you have made a feast for all of your friends must be the happiest day of your life! After all, on this day your palace is decorated, your servants surround you, and all of the distinguished individuals in the land accord you great honor!”
“You are mistaken,” said the wealthy man. “While this day is certainly one of great joy, it is but a remembrance of the day on which I was remade, literally transformed from a lowly beggar in ragged clothing to a man possessing enormous wealth. That day was the happiest of my life:
“I spent that entire day,” he continued, “inside the royal treasury. I felt neither hunger nor weariness; rather, it was as if my complete being was focused on only one goal — amassing the valuables that lay inside the treasury. The more valuables I amassed, the more joy I reaped. I have yet to experience a happier day than that one.”
So it is with us, the Holy One, blessed be He grants a person life as a gift. Throughout his life, man has the ability to amass as many mitzvos and good deeds as his heart desires.
May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)