The King Who Decreed Conversion
I will tell you how people once rejoiced.
There was once a King who had an only son. The King wanted to bequeath the Kingdom, within his lifetime, to his son. He made a great ball. Of course, it is a very joyous occasion when the King makes a ball, especially now that he was bequeathing the Kingdom while he was still alive. Most certainly there was tremendous joy. All of the royal ministers were there, along with all the dukes and nobles, who also were very happy to be at the ball. The country also enjoyed the fact that he was giving over the Kingdom during his lifetime to his son, since this was an enormous honor for the King. The rejoicing was extraordinary. There were all sorts of amusements and entertainment and more. Everything was present at the celebration.
While everyone was very happy, the King stood up and said to his son, “Since I am a stargazer, I see in the future that you will fall from the throne. Therefore, make sure that you will not be sad when you lose your kingdom, just be happy. When you are happy, I’ll be happy, but when you are sad, I will be happy nonetheless that you are no longer King. The reason is that if you are unable to stay happy when you fall from power, you are not worthy of the throne, but if you remain happy, then I will be extremely happy.”
The King’s son took over the reign with a very firm hand. He appointed his own royal ministers, dukes, officials and an army. The King’s son was wise and loved wisdom very much, and was surrounded by great wise men. Everyone who came to him with a bit of wisdom, he treated with very great importance. He would give them honor and wealth for their wisdom, each one according to his desire. To one that wanted money, he would give money; to one that wanted honor, he would give honor—anything for wisdom.
Since wisdom was so important to him, everyone took to wisdom. The whole country became occupied with various wisdoms. One who desired money, did so for money; another desired importance and honor. Since everyone was solely occupied with different wisdoms, they forgot the art of war in this country. They were all immersed in various wisdoms, so much so that everyone in the country became great wise men. The least among them in their country was the wisest in another country. The wise men of this land were extraordinarily wise.
As a result of all the wisdoms, the wise men of this country became heretics. They drew the King’s son into their way of thought, and he also became a heretic. The rest of the country’s people did not become heretics because there was such depth and subtlety in the wisdoms of their wise men, and they were unable to comprehend the wisdom, so they were not harmed by it. For the wise men and the King’s son, however, this was not the case.
Since the King’s son was fundamentally good, he was born good and possessed a good and straight character, he would sometimes remember where he was in the world and what he was doing. He would groan and sigh that he had fallen into such confusion and heretical thinking. He would groan very much, but as soon as he would begin to use his intellect, his heretical ideas would immediate return and become strengthened in him. Thus it was numerous times whenever he would recall his situation: he would groan and sigh, but the moment he began to use his intellect, the heretical thoughts returned and were strengthened.
* * *
ONE DAY, THERE WAS A MASS FLIGHT from a particular country, everyone fled. As they were fleeing on the way, they passed through a forest. A boy and girl were lost. One lost a male and one lost a female. They were still small children, four and five years old. They had nothing to eat. They screamed and cried because they didn’t have food.
In the course of events, a beggar came to them with sacks in which he carried bread. The children began to come close to him and follow after him. He gave them bread to eat and they ate. He asked them, “How did you come here?” They answered, “We don’t know,” since they were small children. He began to walk away from them and they asked him to take them with him. He said, “I don’t want you to come with me.” Meanwhile, they looked at him and alas, he was blind. This was a wonder to them, since how does a blind man know where to go? (Indeed, it was remarkable that this presented a difficulty to them, because they were still small children. Yet, they were wise children, and it was a wonder to them.)
The Blind Beggar blessed them that they should be like him, that they should be old like him. He left more bread for them to eat and departed. The children understood that God was watching over them and had brought this blind beggar to give them food.
Afterwards, their bread was completely finished, and again they began to cry for food. Night fell and they slept there. In the morning they still had nothing to eat and they screamed and cried. Meanwhile, another beggar came who was deaf. They began to speak to him and he communicated to them with his hands, telling them that he did not hear. He also gave them bread to eat and departed from them. They also wished that he would take them along, but he didn’t want to. He blessed them as well, that they should be like him. He also left them bread, and went on his way.
Their bread was completely finished again, and they screamed out as before. A beggar came to them who stuttered. As they started to speak with him, he would stutter, and they didn’t know what he was saying. He understood them, but they didn’t understand him because of his stuttering. He also gave them bread to eat, he blessed them that they should be like him, and continued on his way, just as the others had done.
Another beggar came with a crooked neck and everything happened as before. Then came a beggar with a hunched back. He was followed by a beggar without hands. After him, came a beggar without feet. Each beggar gave them bread and blessed them that they should be like him, exactly as before.
After their bread was completely finished, they began to walk to an inhabited area until they came to a path. They followed this path until they came to a village. The children entered a house, and the people took pity on them and gave them bread. They entered another house where they were also given bread. They went from house to house, and saw that it was going well for them. They promised each other to always remain together. They made large sacks and would go from door to door. They also went to all the celebrations, circumcision feasts and weddings.
They traveled further, visiting cities and again, went door to door. They attended fairs and sat on the fence with a plate in their hands, like the other beggars, until the children became well known among all the beggars. Everyone knew of them and were aware these were the children who had been lost in the forest.
Once there was a large fair in a big city. The beggars went there, as well as the children. It occurred to the beggars that they should arrange a match between the two children, and that they should marry one another. As soon as a few of the beggars began to speak about it, the idea greatly appealed to them all and they concluded the match. How, though, were they to make a wedding?!
They discussed it among themselves and decided that since there was going to be a feast in honor of the King’s birthday on a certain day, all the beggars would attend, and make the wedding from whatever bread and meat they could beg for.
So it was. All the beggars went to the public feast and begged for meat and bread, collecting it and gathering up all the leftovers, the meat and fine white bread. They went and dug a huge pit that would hold a hundred people. They covered it with reeds, earth and dung. Everyone went inside and made a wedding for the children. They brought them under the wedding canopy and were extremely happy. The bride and groom also were very happy.
They began to remember the kindnesses that God had done for them while they were in the forest. They wept and felt tremendous longing, “How can we bring the first beggar here, the blind one, who brought us bread in the forest?” Immediately, as they were longing for the Blind Beggar, he spoke up and said, “Here I am! I have come to be at your wedding, and I am giving you a wedding gift that you should be old like me. For at first, I only blessed you with this, but now I am giving it to you as a complete present, that you should live a long life like me. You think I am blind? I am not blind at all. It is only that all of the world’s time means nothing to me, not even the blink of an eye.” (Therefore he appeared as blind, for he never looked at the world, since to him, the entire world did not amount to even the blink of an eye. Thus it wasn’t relevant for him to see or look at the world at all.) “I am very old, and I am still a nursing infant. I have not yet begun to live at all, even though I am very old. It is not only I who says this, but I have the agreement of the Great Eagle. I will tell you a story.”
“Once, people went to sea in many ships. A storm wind came and wrecked the ships, yet the people survived and came to a tower. They ascended the tower and found food, drink and clothing there, everything they needed. Everything good was there including all the pleasures in the world. They said that each one of them would tell the oldest story he remembered from his first memories, meaning from the time his memory began.
“There were old and young people there. They honored the eldest among them to tell his story first. He spoke up and said, ‘What shall I tell you? I even remember when they cut the apple from the branch.’ No one knew what he was talking about, yet there were wise men there who said, ‘Obviously, this is a very old story.’
“Then they honored the second eldest to relate his story. The second one, who wasn’t quite as old as the first, spoke up and said in amazement, ‘This is an old story? I remember that story, but I also remember when the lamp was lit.’ They all said that this was an older story than the first, and it was a great wonder to them that the one who was younger than the first, remembered a story older than the first.
“They honored the third eldest to tell his story. This one, who was even younger, spoke up and said, ‘I also remember when the fruit began to have a structure; that is, when the fruit began to become a fruit.’ ‘This is an even older story,’ they said.
“The fourth eldest one, who was yet younger, spoke up and said, ‘I also remember when the seed was taken to plant the fruit.’
“The fifth one, who was still younger said, ‘I also remember when the wise men conjured up the seed.’
“The sixth one, who again was even younger, said that he remembered the taste of the fruit before it entered the fruit.
“The seventh one, who was even younger, said that he remembered the smell of the fruit before it entered the fruit.
“The eighth one said he also remembered the appearance of the fruit before it was drawn onto the fruit.
“And I,” said the Blind Beggar who was telling all this, “was a complete infant, and I was also there. I spoke up and said to them, ‘I remember all of these events and I also remember absolutely nothing.’”
They all answered him and said, ‘This is an ancient story, older than all the rest.’ It was utterly unique to them that the infant remembered more than anyone.
“Meanwhile, a Great Eagle came and beat against the tower. He said to them, ‘Stop being paupers, return to your treasures and make use of them.’ He said that they should leave the tower in order of their age, with the oldest leaving first. He took everyone out of the tower, taking the infant first, since the truth was that he was older than them all. And thus it was: whoever was younger was taken out first and the oldest was taken out last, for the youngest was the oldest, and the oldest was younger than everyone.
“[The Great Eagle] said to them, ‘I will explain to you the stories that each one told. The one who said he remembers when the apple was cut from the branch was saying that he remembers when his umbilical cord was cut, (meaning that he remembers immediately after he was born). When the second one said that he remembers the time when the lamp was lit, he meant that he also remembers when he was in the womb, when there was a lamp burning above his head. And the one who said that he remembers the formation of the fruit, meant that he remembers when his body began to form, i.e., when the fetus was formed. The one who remembers when the seed was brought to plant the fruit, meant that he also remembers when the drop was emitted at the time of union. And the one who remembers when the wise men conjured up the seed, meant that he also remembers when the drop of seed was still in the brain, (since the intellect brings the drop into being). The one who remembers the “taste”–this refers to nefesh—the lowest part of the soul. The “scent” refers to ruach—spirit, and the “appearance” refers to neshama–the highest portion of the soul. And the infant who said that he remembers absolutely nothing, is higher than them all, because he remembers what he was even before he was nefesh, ruach or neshama, which is the concept of “nothingness.”’
“The Great Eagle then said to them all, ‘Return to your boats, these are your bodies that were broken, for they will be rebuilt. Now, return to them,’ and he blessed them.
“And to me,” said the Blind Beggar, “the Great Eagle said, ‘You come with me, because you are just like me. You are very old, and yet still very young, and you have not yet begun to live at all. For I too am old and yet still young.
“Therefore, I have the word of the very same Great Eagle (that I live a long life). And now, I am giving you my long life as a wedding present.”
There was then great joy and tremendous happiness.
* * *
THE SECOND DAY
ON THE SECOND DAY of the seven day wedding feast, the couple thought back and remembered the second beggar, the deaf one who had nourished them and given them bread. They cried and yearned, “How can we bring the same deaf beggar here, the one who sustained us?”
In the middle of longing for him, he came and said, “Here I am!” He fell upon them and kissed them, saying, “Now I am giving you a present that you should be like me and live a good life like I have. Since I’ve already blessed you with this, I now give you my good life as a complete gift for your wedding.
“You think I am deaf? I am not deaf at all! It is only that the whole world amounts to absolutely nothing to me, that I should hear its shortcomings. For all sounds come from deficiency; everyone cries out over what he lacks. Even all the joys in the world come from lack since the rejoicing is over the fulfillment of some lack. To me, the whole world amounts to nothing, that its deficiencies should enter my ears. For I live a good life, which lacks nothing. I have the word of the Land of Wealth that I live a good life.” His good life was that he ate bread and drank water. And he told them a story.
“There is a country that possesses great wealth and huge treasures. Once, everyone got together and each began to boast about how his was the good life, each recounting exactly what kind of good life he had.
“I spoke up and said to them, ‘I live a good life that is better than yours. If you really live a good life, let there be a proof; let us see if you can save a certain country. There is a land that had a garden. In this garden, there is a fruit containing every taste in the world. It also has every fragrance in the world, as well as every appearance, every color and every type of flower. Everything was there in this garden.
“There was a gardener in charge of the garden. The people of the country lived a good life because of this garden. Then the gardener was lost. Everything in the garden came to an end and also was lost, since no one was tending to it. Nevertheless, they were able to live off of the wild vegetation that remained in the garden.
“A cruel King then came to the country, but he could not do anything to them. So instead he went and ruined the good life they had from the garden. He did not destroy the garden, but rather he left three groups of servants in the country, commanding them to do his bidding. Through this, he ruined the people’s sense of taste. As a result of what they did there, when anyone tasted something it had the taste of a rotting carcass. Their sense of smell also was ruined; every fragrance had the odor of [galbanum]. Likewise, their sense of sight was impaired, and their eyes became darkened as if they were covered with clouds and mists.” (All this was done at the command of the cruel King.)
“‘’Now, if you truly live a good life, let us see if you can save them. And I (the Deaf Beggar) am telling you that if you do not save them, then the same damage that befell this country can harm you as well.’
“The rich people from the Land of Wealth went to this country. I also went with them. As they traveled, each one of them lived his good life, since they each had treasures. As they approached the country, their sense of taste and other senses began to go bad and they felt for themselves that their senses were becoming damaged.
“I said to them, ‘If all of your senses are already ruined now when you have not even entered the Land, what will happen when you actually get there? Even more so, how can you save them?’ I took my bread and water, and I gave it to them. They experienced all the tastes and scents in my bread and water, and what had been damaged was repaired.
“Meanwhile, the people of this country themselves (that had the garden) began to look for a way of curing their Land of its ruined sense of taste, smell, and all else.
“They thought to themselves that since there is a country of wealth, (the Land of Wealth from where the Deaf Beggar was now coming), it must be that their lost gardener, (who had provided them a good life), was from the same [spiritual] root as the people of this Land of Wealth, for they also had a good life. Therefore, they decided to send messengers to this country, for certainly they would save them. And so they did, they sent messengers to the Land of Wealth.
“Along the way, the messengers encountered the wealthy people, (who were with the Deaf Beggar), at the same time as they were on their way to them. They asked the messengers, ‘Where are you going?’ They answered, ‘We are going to the Land of Wealth so they will save us.’ They answered, ‘We ourselves are from the Land of Wealth, and we are on our way to you.’
“I then said to them, (the Deaf Beggar who was telling all this), ‘You need me. You cannot go there and save them by yourselves. Therefore remain here, and I will go with the messengers to save them.’
“I went with them and entered a certain city in the Land. I saw people coming and telling jokes. Afterwards, more people gathered around them forming a group, telling jokes, chuckling and laughing. I listened more carefully and heard that they were speaking profanely. One would make an obscene remark and another would say it more subtly. One would laugh and another would enjoy it, and so on.
“Afterwards, I went further to another city, and I saw two people arguing with one another over a business matter. They went to court for a decision. The court ruled that one was innocent and one was guilty. After they left the court, they began to quarrel again, rejecting the court’s decision. They said they wanted a different court, so they chose another and got another judgment. Later, one of them began arguing with someone else, and they again chose still another court. And thus they would argue and quarrel, choosing so many different courts until the entire city was filled with them.
“I looked and realized that this was because there was no truth there. Today a judge would bend the law and show favoritism to someone, tomorrow his friend would favor him in return. Everything was based on bribery and there was no truth among them.
“Later, I observed that they were utterly immersed in sexual immorality. It was so prevalent that anything appeared permissible to them. I said, ‘This is why your sense of taste, smell and appearance became ruined. This cruel King left you three groups of his servants who go around and wreck the country. They would go and speak obscenely among themselves, bringing profanity into the country, which ruined all sense of taste so that everything tasted like a rotting carcass. Likewise, they introduced bribery into the Land which darkened your eyes and damaged your vision, since ‘Bribery blinds the eyes of the wise.’ They introduced sexual immorality into the country in the same way, which ruined the sense of smell. Therefore, correct these three wrongs in your land, and look for these [servants] and drive them out. When you fix these three wrongs, you will not only restore the sense of taste, appearance and smell to the land, but you will also be able to find the lost gardener.’
“They did this and began to rectify the country from these three wrongs. They searched for the above-mentioned people, the King’s servants. They would grab someone and ask him, ‘Where did you come from?’ They did this until they determined which were the cruel King’s agents and banished them, thereby curing the country.
“In the midst of everything, a clamor arose. What about this crazy person going around and saying that he is the gardener? Everyone believed he was insane, threw stones at him and chased him away. Could it be, after all, that he really was the gardener?!
“So they went and brought him before them” (in front of those who fixed the country as well as the Deaf Beggar himself). “I said, ‘Of course he is the real gardener!’ since it was obvious that the Land had been rectified through him. Thus, I have the agreement of the very same Land of Wealth that I live a good life, since I rectified this land. And now, I am giving you my good life as a gift.”
There was tremendous happiness and indescribable joy. (In a similar fashion, each of the beggars returned and came to the wedding, giving the couple the wedding gift to be like them, what they originally gave only as a blessing. The first beggar gave them long life for a present; the second one gave them good life.)
* * *
THE THIRD DAY
ON THE THIRD DAY, the couple thought back and remembered with crying and longing, “How can we bring the third beggar here who had a speech defect?” Suddenly he appeared and said, “Here I am!” He fell upon them and kissed them. He spoke as the others had. “At first I blessed you that you should be like me. Now I am giving you a wedding gift that you should be like me. You think that I stutter? I have no speech defect at all. It is only that any words in the world which do not praise God, have no perfection.” (Therefore, he appeared as a stutterer, since he was stuttering the words of the world which have no perfection.) “Really though, I am not a stutterer at all. On the contrary, I am a wondrous orator and speaker. I can speak in wonderful parables and poems, until no created being can resist listening to me. All wisdoms are found in my parables and songs. I have the agreement of the certain great man called the True Man of Kindness. There is an entire story about this.
“Once all the wise men sat together, and each one boasted about his wisdom. One boasted that his wisdom discovered how to produce iron. One boasted about his discovery of another kind of metal, another boasted that his wisdom invented the production of silver, which is even more important. One took pride in that he had discovered how to make gold, one that he invented weapons of war, another that he knew how to make these metals from materials that are usually not used. One boasted in yet other wisdoms, for there are some things in the world which were discovered through wisdoms, such as flammable liquid, gun-powder, and such. And so went their boasting about their wisdoms.
“One of them spoke up and said, ‘I am wiser than all of you, since I am wise like the day.’ They did not understand what he was saying by claiming he was wise like the day. He explained to them, ‘If all of your wisdom was put together, it would not amount to more than an hour. Each wisdom is taken from a certain day, depending on what was created on that day. Yet all wisdoms are composites, (meaning each wisdom is comprised of the combination of things created on a particular day). Nevertheless, with [true] wisdom, all of your wisdoms can be collected into an hour, but I am wise like a complete day.’ (This is what the last wise man boasted.)
“I spoke up and said to him, (the Stutterer to the last wise man), ‘Like which day [are you wise]?’ Referring to me, the wise man answered by saying: ‘This one, the Stutterer, is wiser even than I, because he asks, ‘Like which day?’ However, I am wise like any day you prefer.”
Now, it will be difficult to understand how by asking, ‘Like which day?’ one is wiser than the one who is wise like any day you prefer. However, this involves an entire story, since the True Man of Kindness is really a very great man. And he, (the Stutterer who is telling everything), goes and gathers all true kindnesses and brings them to the True Man of Kindness.
The essence of the existence of time, (since time itself is a creation), comes about through true kindness. This Stutterer goes around collecting all true kindnesses and brings them to this True Man of Kindness, thus creating time.
“There is a mountain. On the mountain stands a stone; from the stone flows a Spring. Everything has a heart. The world itself also has a heart. The Heart of the World is a microcosm of the body, with a face, hands and feet, and all else. Know though that the toenail of the Heart of the World possesses more of the essence of a heart than the heart of anything else.
“This mountain with the stone and the Spring stands at one end of the world, and the Heart of the World stands at the other end. The Heart faces the Spring and constantly longs and yearns to come to the Spring, with very very great yearning, and it cries out deeply to come to the Spring.
“The Spring too yearns for the Heart.
“The heart has two weaknesses. The first comes from the sun, which pursues and burns it. (This is because of the fact that it longs and desires to come close to the Spring). The second weakness of the Heart comes from the greatness of its yearning, its unending longing and its pining with an expiring soul for this Spring. It constantly faces the Spring, longing for it very much, crying out ‘Gevald!—Help!’
“When the Heart must rest a bit to catch its breath, a great bird comes and spreads its wings over it and protects it from the sun. Yet even while resting, it gazes at the Spring and longs for it.
“If the Heart longs so much, why does it not go to the Spring? However, if it were to come close to the mountain, it no longer would see the peak of the mountain and then could not gaze at the Spring. If it stops looking at the Spring, its soul would expire since the essence of its life force is from the Spring. When it stands facing the mountain, it can see the peak upon which stands the Spring, but as soon as it comes near the mountain, the peak disappears from sight. If it cannot see the Spring, its soul, God forbid, will leave.
“If the Heart were to die, God forbid, then the entire world would cease to exist. For the Heart is the life force of everything, and obviously nothing can exist without a heart. Therefore, it cannot go to the Spring. It can only stand and face it, longing and crying out.
“Time does not exist for the Spring, since it is not within time at all, (meaning it has no concept of time, since it is higher than the time of the world). The Spring has time only because the Heart gives it as a gift for one day. When the time comes for the day to finish, then at the end of the day, there would be no time left for the Spring and it would perish, God forbid. The Heart would then pass away, which would cause the entire world to cease.
“Toward the end of the day, they begin to take leave of each other, and say wonderful parables and songs to each other with tremendous love and a very great longing.
“The True Man of Kindness watches carefully over this. When the day ends completely, the True Man of Kindness gives the Heart a gift of one day and the Heart then gives the day to the Spring. And once again, time exists for the Spring. When the day goes to the place where it came from, it goes with extraordinarily wonderful parables and songs, which possess all types of wisdom.
“There are differences between days. There is Sunday, Monday and so on. Likewise, there are the days of the new moon and festivals.
“All the time that the True Man of Kindness has comes through me (the Stutterer who is telling all this). For I go around and collect all true kindnesses, from which time comes into existence.”
(Therefore, he is wiser than even the wise man who is wise like any day you prefer. For the entire basis of time and days come through him, the Stutterer, since he collects true kindnesses from where time originates and brings them to the True Man of Kindness. He then gives a day to the Heart, and the Heart gives it to the Spring. Through this, the entire world is perpetuated. Therefore, the essence of the existence of time is with parables and songs containing all types of wisdom, all of this is brought by the Stutterer.)
“Thus I have the agreement from the True Man of Kindness that I am able to say parables and songs which possess all wisdom.” (Again, time, along with the parables and songs, come into existence through the Stutterer.) “And now I am giving you a complete gift that you should be like me.”
Then there was there very great happiness and joy.
* * *
THE FOURTH DAY
AFTER THEY FINISHED THE REJOICING of that day, they went to sleep. In the morning the couple reminisced again and longed for the Beggar with the Crooked Neck. He suddenly appeared and said, “Here I am! At first, I blessed you that you should be like me. Now I am giving you this as a wedding gift. You think I have a crooked neck? My neck is not crooked at all. On the contrary, I have a very straight and beautiful neck. It is only because of the vanities of the world that I do not want to exhale into the world’s futility.” (For this reason, his neck appeared crooked. He bent his neck away from worldly vanities since he did not want to exhale any breath into the futility of the world.)
“However, I really have an extremely beautiful and wonderful neck, because I possess a very wondrous voice. There are many kinds of voices in the world that are sounds without speech which I can reproduce with my voice, for I have a very wonderful neck and voice, as well as an agreement from a certain land that this is so.
“There is a land where everyone is exceptionally expert in the wisdom of music, (playing instruments and singing). Everyone there is occupied with this wisdom, even small children. There is not a child there that cannot play some type of musical instrument. A child in this country would be a great musician in another land. The wise men as well as the King and his musicians are extraordinarily wise in this wisdom.
“Once, the wise men of this land sat together and each one boasted about his music. One boasted that he knew how to play a certain musical instrument while another boasted he knew how to play another instrument. One boasted that he knew how to play several musical instruments. Yet another boasted that he knew how to play all musical instruments. One boasted he could mimic a particular musical instrument with his voice; still another boasted he could mimic a different instrument. Another boasted that he could mimic several instruments with his voice. One boasted that his voice could mimic the exact sound of a drum beating, another that his voice could mimic a shooting cannon.
“I was also there,” (the Beggar with the Crooked Neck). “I spoke up and said to them, ‘My voice is better than your voices! Here is the proof. If you are really so wise in music, then save these two lands. There are two lands a thousand miles apart. At night, no one in these two lands can sleep. As soon as night falls, everyone begins wailing in a sobbing voice, men, women, and children. If a stone were placed there, it would melt. For at night, they hear incredible howling and because of this, everyone wails. The same sound of wailing is heard in both lands, (and everyone wails), even though they are separated by a thousand miles. Therefore, if you are so wise in music, let us see if you can help these two lands, or at least imitate their sound, (be able to reproduce the same wailing sound that is heard there).’
The wise men said to the Beggar with the Crooked Neck, “Will you take us there?” He replied, “Yes, I will take you there.” And they all arose to go.
They set out and came to one of the two countries. When they arrived and night fell, everyone began to wail, and the wise men wailed as well. (They already saw that obviously they could not help the two lands.) The Beggar with the Crooked Neck said to the wise men, “In any case, tell me, where does the wailing sound come from? They said to him, “Do you know?” He answered, “Of course I know.”
“There are two birds, one male and one female, and they are the only pair of their kind in the world. The female was lost; the male went to search for her, and she searched for him. They searched for one another for a very long time, until they became completely lost. They saw that they could not find one another, so they remained where they were and made nests for themselves. The male bird made his nest next to one of the two lands. He was not right next to it, but close enough that the people of the land could hear his voice from the place where he built his nest. She also made a nest next to the second land.” (She too, was close enough that they could hear her voice.)
“At night, each of the pair of birds begins to wail with a very great wailing voice, because each one is wailing for its mate. It is the sound of this wailing that is heard in these two lands, causing everyone in both lands to wail so they cannot sleep.”
However, they did not want to believe this. They said to him, “Will you take us there?” He answered, “Yes, I can bring you there, but you will not be able to come near, because if you do, you will not be able to tolerate the sound of the wailing. Even here you are unable to tolerate it and are also forced to wail. If you were there, you would not be able to stand it at all.
“During the day, it is also impossible to come close, since it is impossible to bear the happiness there. By day, the birds gather around each one of the pair. They console and make each of the pair happy with extraordinarily great rejoicing. They speak words of consolation, telling the pair that of course they will find each other! Thus, in the daytime it is impossible to tolerate the great joy there. The sound of the birds that make them rejoice is not heard from a distance, only when one arrives there. However the sound of the pair when they wail at night is heard from afar and it is impossible to go there because of this.”
(The wise men said to the Beggar with the Crooked Neck), “Can you rectify this?” He answered, “I can rectify it, since I can imitate any sound in the world. I can also throw sounds. I can project a voice so that here, in the place I make the sound, the voice will not be heard at all, but from afar, it will. Thus, I can project the voice of the female bird so it reaches close to the place of the male bird. Likewise, the voice of the male bird can be projected near the place of the female bird, and in so doing, draw them together. Through this, everything will be rectified.”
But who would believe this? So he took them into a forest, and they heard what sounded like someone opening a door, closing it again, and locking it with a bolt. They heard the click of the bolt and a gun being fired. Then they heard a dog being sent to fetch what was shot, and how the dog thrashed around and dragged itself in the snow. All of this was heard by the wise men. They looked, but saw nothing. They also heard absolutely no sound from the Beggar with the Crooked Neck. Yet it was the Beggar with the Crooked Neck throwing his voice, which is why they heard these sounds. They clearly saw that he could make all these sounds and reproduce them exactly, as well as project them. Therefore he could rectify everything.
(The Rebbe told no more about this and it is understood that he omitted a section here.)
“So we see I have an agreement from this same land that my voice is very wondrous and I can make all kinds of sounds in the world. Now I am giving you this as a complete wedding gift, that you should be like me.”
There was then very great happiness and tremendous joy.
* * *
THE FIFTH DAY
ON THE FIFTH DAY they were also rejoicing, when the couple remembered the beggar who was a hunchback. They greatly longed for him, saying, “How can we bring the Hunchbacked Beggar here, because if he were here, the joy would be very great!” Suddenly, he came and said, “Here I am! I have come for the wedding.” He fell on them, hugging and kissing them. He said, “At first, I blessed you that you should be like me, and now I am giving you a wedding gift, that you should be like me. I am not a hunchback at all. On the contrary, I have shoulders that have the quality of ‘little holding much.’ I have an agreement regarding this.
“Once there was a discussion where people were boasting about this idea. Every single one of them would boast how he had the quality of ‘little holding much.’ They laughed and made fun of one of them, but the words of the rest who boasted about their quality of ‘little holding much’ were accepted.
“However, the quality I possess of ‘little holding much’ is greater than all of them. One boasted that his mind had the quality of ‘little holding much,’ since it carried thousands and myriads of people with all of their needs (and habits), as well as their experiences and movements. Since his mind held everything about all of them, he is thus a case of ‘little holding much.’ They laughed at him and said that the people are nothing and he is nothing.
“One spoke up and said, ‘I have seen ‘little holding much.’ Once I saw a mountain with a lot of manure and filth lying on it. It was unusual to me and I wondered how so much manure and filth came to this mountain. There was a particular man near this mountain, and he said, ‘This is all from me.’ This man lived near the mountain and always threw his garbage and waste matter from whatever he ate and drank there, making it a filthy place, until the garbage and filth proliferated on the mountain. Therefore, this man was a case of ‘little holding much,’ since the garbage increased so much because of him. (His quality of ‘little holding much’ is just like the one who boasted that he carried so many people in his mind.)
“One boasted that he was an example of ‘little holding much,’ since he owned an estate which produced a lot of fruit. After the amount of fruit the country yielded was calculated, it was seen that the land did not have enough space to hold so much fruit. Therefore, it is an example of ‘little holding much.’ His words found favor since this was really an obvious case of ‘little holding much.’
“One said that he had a very wondrous orchard with fruits. Many people and important officials traveled there, because it was such a beautiful orchard. In the summer, many people and officials would travel there to stroll around, but really, the orchard did not have enough space to hold so many people. Therefore, it is an example of ‘little holding much.’ His words also found favor.
“Another said that his speech was an example of ‘little holding much.’ He was secretary to a great King with many people coming to him, some with praises for the King, and others with requests and similar things. ‘Of course it is impossible for the King to hear everything, so I condense it all into a few words and tell it to the King. My few words include all of their praises and requests. Every word of theirs is included within my few words. Thus, my speech is ‘little holding much.’
“One said that his silence was an example of ‘little holding much.’ He had many opponents who slandered and denounced him a great deal. As much as he was slandered and denounced, he answered them all through his silence alone, since it provided an answer to everything. Thus, his silence was ‘little holding much.’
“One said that he was an example of ‘little holding much.’ There was a pauper who was blind and very large. The one who was boasting was very small, and led him around. He boasted that despite his being small, he led the blind pauper who was huge. Thus, he is ‘little holding much,’ since a blind person could slip and fall, and by leading him, he was supporting him. He is ‘little holding much’ for although he is small, he upheld the huge blind pauper.
“And I was also there,” said the Hunchback. “I said, ‘The truth is that you do possess the quality of ‘little holding much,’ and I understand what you meant when you spoke.’ (Meaning, he knew what each one intended when they boasted about being an aspect of ‘little holding much.’)
“The last one who boasted that he led the huge blind pauper is greater than you all, yet I am utterly higher than any of you. The one who boasted that he led the huge blind man meant that he leads the lunar cycle, since the moon is also considered “blind”; she has no light of her own and possesses nothing. He leads the moon despite being small; the lunar cycle is very big. He sustains the entire world, since it needs the moon. Thus, he truly has the quality of ‘little holding much.’ Nevertheless, my ‘little holding much’ is still higher than all of you, and here is the proof.
“There was once a group of people that investigated how each animal possesses a particular shadow in which it wants to rest. Each and every animal has its own special shadow, since each one chooses one for itself, wanting to dwell only in this particular shadow. Likewise, each and every bird has its own special branch, wanting to live only on this branch.
“Therefore, they pondered if they could find one tree whose shadow could accommodate all the animals, where everyone would choose and desire the same tree and live in its shadow together. All the heavenly birds would dwell on its branches as well.
“They investigated whether or not such a tree could be found. They wanted to go to it, since the incredible pleasure that exists by such a tree is indescribable. All the birds and animals are there and no animal harms the other. They all coexist and play together there. Obviously, it is a tremendous delight to be near this tree.
“They examined from which side they needed to approach the tree. An argument developed between them, and no one was able to settle it. One said they must head east; another said west. Another said this way and the other said that way, and so on, until they were unable to determine from which side to approach the tree.
“A wise man came along and said to them, ‘Why are you trying to figure out from which way to approach the tree? First investigate exactly who is able to come to this tree, since not everyone can. Only those who have the attributes of the tree can come near. The tree has three roots. One root is faith. The second is fear. The third is humility. The trunk of the tree is truth, from which extend branches. Therefore, it is impossible to approach the tree, unless one has these qualities.’
“This group possessed a tremendous sense of unity. They didn’t want to separate from each other where some of them would go to the tree and others would remain behind, since not all of them were at the proper level. Only a few of them possessed all the necessary qualities, while the rest did not. Thus, they all stayed behind, waiting until the others exerted themselves and attained these attributes so they could all come to the tree.
“And so they did. They struggled and toiled until everyone acquired the proper qualities. When they all had these attributes, they came to a unified conclusion, and agreed together on which way to approach the tree.
“They proceeded for awhile until they saw the tree from afar. They looked and saw that it was not standing in space. The tree had no place at all. Since it occupied no space, how was it possible to approach it?
“I was also with them,” said the Hunchback, “and I told them, ‘I can bring you to the tree. This tree occupies no place since it is above space completely.’ (Meaning, it is above the physical dimension of space.) This is the concept of ‘little holding much,’ because although the “little” must take up a tiny place, it holds much more than its capacity. For this reason, there is still somewhat of a space in the area it takes up. “And I,” said the Hunchback, “possess such a quality of ‘little holding much,’ that it exists at the very end of space, beyond which there is no space at all. Therefore, I can carry all of you to the tree which is completely above space.” (The Hunchback represents the midpoint between space and above space. There is an upper level of ‘little holding much,’ which is the end of space entirely. Above this, there is no concept of space whatsoever. Thus, he is able to carry them from within space to a dimension beyond space. Understand this well.)
“I took them and carried them to the tree. Therefore, I have an agreement from these people that I possess the upper level of ‘little holding much.’” (For this reason he seemed to be a hunchback. He bore much upon himself, since he had the quality of ‘little holding much.’)
“Now I am giving you this as a gift, that you should be like me.” There was great rejoicing and tremendous happiness.
* * *
THE SIXTH DAY
ON THE SIXTH DAY they were also rejoicing. They yearned and wondered how to bring the Beggar without Hands. He appeared suddenly and said, “Here I am! I have come to your wedding,” repeating to them what the other beggars before him had said. He kissed them, saying, “You think I have defective hands? I have no defect in my hands, rather my hands truly possess strength. It is only that I do not use the strength in this world, since I need it for something else. I have the agreement of the Water Castle about this.
“Once, a certain group of us sat together, each boasting about the power in his hands. One boasted that he had a particular power in his hands; another boasted about a different strength. Likewise, each one boasted of a certain power his hands possessed.
“One would boast that the power in his hands was such that when he shot an arrow, he could retrieve it. His power was so great that even if the arrow had already been shot, he could still retrieve it and bring it back to him.
“I (the Beggar without Hands), asked him, ‘Which arrow can you retrieve? There are ten kinds of arrows, and ten kinds of poisons. When one wants to shoot an arrow, he daubs it with a certain poison. There are ten kinds of poison, and when one smears the arrow with one of the poisons, it harms in a certain way. When smeared with another poison, it harms more. Likewise there are ten kinds of poison, each progressively worse than the other, causing more and more damage. This is what constitutes the ten types of arrows. The arrows themselves are the same, it is only the different poisons that are rubbed on the arrow that make them different. Thus, they are considered ten different types of arrows. For this reason, he was asked (by the Beggar without Hands) which kind of arrow he could retrieve. He was also asked if he could return the arrow he shot before it hit its mark, and if he could retrieve it even after it hit.
He answered that he could recover an arrow even after it hit, but only one particular type of arrow.
“I said to him, ‘If so, you cannot heal the princess, since you can only retrieve one type of arrow.’
“One boasted he had such a power in his hands, that whenever he took or received from someone, he was actually giving to him.” (Through his actual taking and receiving, he gives, for his receiving was giving). “He was thus obviously a charitable person. I asked him, ‘Which charity do you give?’ (since there are ten types of charity). He answered that he gives a tenth. I said to him, ‘If so, you cannot heal the princess. You cannot even come to her place, since you cannot go through more than one wall (of the place where she is staying). Therefore, you cannot go to where she is.
“Another boasted that he had a certain power in his hands. There are overseers in the world (highly placed officials who supervise cities and countries), and each one needs wisdom. He had power in his hands through which he could give them wisdom by placing his hands on them.
“I asked him, ‘Which wisdom can you bestow with your hands? There are ten types of wisdom.’ He specified a certain wisdom. I then said to him, ‘If so, you cannot heal the princess, because you cannot understand her pulse. There are ten kinds of pulse and you are unable to know more than one type of pulse.’ (Since he was able to confer only one kind of wisdom, he could understand only one type of pulse.)
“One boasted that he had such power that he could hold back a raging storm wind with his hands and temper it so that it would blow in proper measure. I asked him, ‘Which wind can you grasp in your hands? There are ten kinds of winds.’ He specified a certain wind. I said to him, ‘If this is so, you cannot heal the princess. You cannot play more than one melody for her. There are ten kinds of melodies. Melody is what heals her, and you are unable to play more than one of the ten melodies.’
“Everyone spoke up and said, ‘What is your ability?’ He answered, ‘I can do what you cannot. (In knowing only one of the ten), each of you still have nine parts that you are unable to accomplish, but I am able to do them all.’
“There is a story. Once there was a King who desired a Queen’s Daughter and devised different strategies to capture her, until he succeeded and caught her. One time, the King had a dream that she was standing over him and killed him. He woke up and took the dream to heart. He called in all the dream interpreters, who explained it according to its simple meaning. The dream would come true and she would kill him.
“The King did not know what to do with her. To kill her would grieve him. To send her away would anger him, since another man would take her. The thought infuriated him because he exerted so much effort to get her, only to have her go to another man. If he sent her away and she would go to someone else, the dream would certainly come true. She would kill him, since she was with another. Because of the dream, he was afraid to keep her near him and did not know what to do with her. His love for her gradually deteriorated because of the dream, declining more and more as time passed. The same was true for her. Her love also deteriorated more and more until she developed a hatred for him and fled.
“The King sent his men to search for her. They came and told him that she was located near the Water Castle. There is a Water Castle with ten walls of water, one within the other, all comprised of water. The floor of the Castle was also made of water, as well as the trees and fruit which were there. The beauty of the Castle and its great uniqueness went without saying, since it is obviously something wondrously unique, being made of water. It is impossible to enter this castle, since anyone entering it would drown.
“Meanwhile, as the Queen’s Daughter fled, she came to this same Water Castle, and was encircling it. The King was informed of this and set out with his army to capture her. When the Queen’s Daughter saw that they were going to catch her, she decided to run inside the Castle. She preferred to drown than be caught by the King and have to be with him. Yet perhaps she would also survive and be able to enter the Water Castle.
“When the King saw that she was fleeing to the water, he said, ‘So this is the way it is,’ and gave orders to shoot her, saying, ‘If she dies, she dies.’ They shot her and she was hit with all ten types of arrows smeared with the ten types of poison. She fled into the Castle, passing through each gate of the Water Castle’s ten walls of water until she came completely inside. There, she collapsed and was left very weak.
“I heal her. One who does not possess all ten types of charity is unable to enter into all ten walls, because he would drown in the water. The King and his army chased after her and drowned in the water.
“I am able to enter into each of these ten walls of water. The ten walls of water are actually sea waves which stand like walls and are supported and lifted up by the winds. These waves that comprise the ten walls stand continually, but the winds are what support and uphold them. I can enter into all ten walls, and go back to draw out all ten types of arrows from the Queen’s Daughter. Through my ten fingers, I know all ten types of pulse, since each of the ten fingers recognize one particular pulse from the ten types. I can then cure her through all ten types of melody,” (since she is healed through melody). “I thus heal her. This is the power that my hands possess, and now, I am giving it to you as a gift.”
There was great rejoicing and tremendous happiness.
* * *
AFTER TELLING THE STORY OF THE SEVEN BEGGARS, Rebbe Nachman said the following:
“This story is very difficult for me to tell, but since I have begun to tell it, I must finish. There is not one superfluous word in this story. Someone who is expert in the holy books can understand a little of the allusions.
“The concept of the arrows and the power the hands possess to retrieve the arrows is related to the verse, ‘My hand will grasp judgment’ (Deut. 32:41). Rashi explains as follows: ‘When a human being shoots an arrow, he cannot take it back, but when God shoots an arrow, He can.’
“The concept of charity corresponds to the walls of water, which are the waves of the sea. This is related to the verse, ‘Your charity is like the waves of the sea’ (Isaiah 48:18).
“The wind that could be grasped in the hands corresponds to the verse, ‘Who gathered the wind in His palm,’ (Proverbs 30:4) and is related to the idea of melody as explained in another place (see Likutey Moharan 54). The ten types of melody and ten types of pulse have already been discussed elsewhere.” (See Likutey Moharan Tinyana 24.)
Reb Noson added the following:
“All of this we heard explicitly from the Rebbe. Yet regarding who, what and when, the story is profoundly deep, meaning the actual body of the story itself. Who are all the above-mentioned characters? What are they? When did this all take place? It is too deep to comprehend.
“The end of the story would concern what occurred on the Seventh Day, and the Beggar without Feet, as well as the conclusion to the first part of the story about the King who had an only son, but we were not worthy to hear it. He said he would tell no more of the story, and this is a great loss. We will not be worthy of hearing more until the Messiah comes, may it be speedily in our days. Amen.
“Rebbe Nachman also said, ‘Even if I knew nothing more than this story, it would still be a tremendously great innovation.’ He said explicitly that this story is wondrously unique, containing a great deal of moral and ethical guidance and has within it many Torah teachings. It also speaks of many previous Tzaddikim as well as King David, who stood at one end of the earth and cried out to the Spring which came out from the stone on the mountain. This is connected to the verse, ‘From the end of the earth I will call to You. When my heart is faint, lead me to a rock that is too high for me’ (Psalms 61:3).
“All of the above we heard explicitly from the mouth of Rebbe Nachman. It is understood from his words that King David corresponds to the Heart mentioned in the story. (See the Zohar, Shemot 108.) The story is alluding to him when it speaks of the Heart of the World which stands at the end of the earth facing the Spring, constantly crying out and yearning for it. Yet these matters remain sealed from us. Happy is the one who is worthy of comprehending the secrets of the story.
“The matter of King David and the above verse, ‘From the end of the earth…’ is connected to the Third Day of the story, since it speaks about the Heart and the Spring. Look at the story carefully and you will see wonders and how the ideas hint to incredible things. It is impossible to speak of the awesome greatness of this story at all, because it is higher than all of his other stories. Happy, happy is the one who will be worthy, even in the World to Come, to understand a fraction of it. If a person has any brain in his head, his hair will stand on end. He will understand a tiny bit of the greatness of the Creator and the true Tzaddikim, when looking well into this awesome story, the likes of which has never been heard before.”
* * *