Posted on January 5th, 2011 by Rabbi
A Jewish innkeeper earned his living managing a small inn that stood on the crossroads leading to the big city. Every so often, a lone traveler or caravan would lodge at the inn; there they would eat to the heart’s content, rest from the long journey, and then continue on their way.
On one occasion, the Jewish innkeeper was falsely accused of committing a terrible crime against the state. While he was waiting for his trial, he was informed by reliable sources that if he were found guilty, he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
His loved ones advised him to travel to the capital where the king lived. There he would try his best to gain an audience with the king and present his case before him. The innkeeper’s friends reassured him, “The king is a man of truth and will certainly see that justice is served.
“But who will permit me to even approach the palace to begin with?” asked the innkeeper. “Why, the king’s guards have the palace surrounded.”
“You must try, nonetheless,” answered his friends.
The king had a habit every so often of putting on simple farmer’s clothing and travel around his kingdom seeing and listening carefully. In this way, he would get a sense of the mood and would know what the people were thinking.
On one such occasion, the king arrived at the inn managed by the Jewish innkeeper. There he received food and drink and slept on the floor like an ordinary person.
Sometime later, the innkeeper was told who his guest had been. Upon hearing that the king had stayed in his inn, the innkeeper took his head in his hands and cried, “Woe is me! The king was in my house, and I could have begged him to save my life…”
Every person can draw close to the Holy One Blessed, be He, the King above all kings, in this world, for here He is always within reach. One must seize the moment and draw as close to the Holy One Blessed, be He as he possibly can, for he will not have the opportunity to do so in the World to Come.