The Fly & the Spider

I will tell you about the journey that I had.

There was once a King who was weighed down with many difficult wars and overcame his enemies (conquered them) and took many prisoners. So the King arranged a great ball every year on the day that he won the war and there at the ball all the royal counselors and ministers attended, as is the way with kings.

And there comedies were staged and mockery was directed at all nations including those of the Turk, and they mimicked each nation’s customs, and their conduct, and probably Jews were also mocked at. The King called for the book wherein are recorded the customs and conduct of each nation everywhere. As the King opened the book, he saw that the performers had reproduced them exactly in their plays, because probably he who performed the plays had also seen the book.

Meantime, as the King sat over the volume, he saw a spider crawling along the sharp edges of the pages of the book and on the pages of the book there stood a fly. Probably the spider was going after the fly. Meanwhile just as the spider was crawling towards the fly, a breeze came and lifted the page of the book, so the spider could not go to the fly. So she turned and pretended that she was going back and did not want to go to the fly. Then the page settled back inits place, and again the spider tried to go to the fly; again the page lifted itself and did not let her, so the spider once again turned back; and this happened several times. After that the spider again went towards the fly and so crawled till she managed to get one foot upon the page. Again the page lifted itself and the spider got onto the page a little. The page settled down altogether till the spider remained beneath the page, between one page and another, and she crawled there remaining deep, deep down till there was nothing left of her (and the fly, I will not tell you what happened to her).

And the King saw all this and was filled with wonder. He understood that this was no empty matter, but that he was being shown something by it (and all the ministers noticed that the King watched and wondered about it). The King began to meditate what this could portend and he dozed upon the volume. He dreamt that he held in his hand a diamond; and as he was gazing at it, there issued from it great numbers of people. So he threw down the diamond from his hand.

Now it is customary among kings that over them hangs their portrait, and above the portrait hangs the crown. He saw in his dream how the people, who came out of the diamond, took the portrait and cut off the head. Then they took the crown and threw it into the mud, and they ran to him to kill him. Then there lifted itself a page of the book on which he lay and shielded him, so they could do nothing to him. They went away from him. The page returned to its place. Then they again wanted to kill him and again the page lifted itself, and this took place several times.

The King very much wanted to see what page was his shield (protected him), what customs are recorded there, from which nation it derives; but he was afraid to look, and he began to scream. All the ministers who sat there heard and wanted to wake him; but it is not polite to waken a king. So they banged around him to wake him up; but he did not hear.

Meanwhile there came to him a mountain and asked him, “Why are you screaming so? I have been sleeping for such a long time, and no one has woken me up, and you have woken me up.” (So the mountain said to the King.) So he [the King] said to him, “How should I not scream if they rise against me and want to kill me, only that page is my shield.”

The mountain answered him, “If the page is your shield, you need have no fear of anything, because against me there rise also many enemies, but that page is my shield. Come, I will show you.”

He showed him how the mountain is surrounded by thousands and tens of thousands of enemies; and they feast and rejoice and there is music and dancing. And the rejoicing is that of a company of them who had thought of a wise plan how to ascend the mountain. So they greatly rejoiced with feasting and music and dancing and so each company (a part of them). Only that page of customs which shields you, also shields me.

At the top of the mountain there was a tablet, and there was written the customs from the page that shielded him, from which nation it derives. But because the mountain is high, none can read the writing. Only lower down there was a table, and there it was written that whoever has all his teeth, can ascend the mountain. So the Almighty granted that there grow such a grass there—where the ascent can be made up the mountain—that whoever comes there, all his teeth fall out. Whether he went on foot or on horseback, whether he rode in a wagon with cattle, even so, all teeth fell out. So there lay piles of teeth, like hills.

Then the people from the diamond took the portrait and put it together again as before. They took the crown and washed it and again hung them in their place.

The King awoke and immediately glanced at the page that protected him, to see from what customs, from which nation it is. He saw that the customs of Jews were written there. He began to look at the page with truth; and he understood the real truth. After much thought he made up his mind he would surely be a Jew. But what could be done to turn the whole world towards good and bring them all to truth?

He decided to travel in search of a wise man who would exactly interpret his dream (he should interpret him the dream exactly as it is). He took with him two men and traveled all over the world, not as a king, but as an ordinary person and travelled from one city to the other and made enquiries where to find such a sage who could interpret dreams exactly. He was informed that in such and such a place such a wise man is to be found. He traveled there and came to the sage, and told him the truth, that he is a king and has won wars and the whole affair that had happened etc., and begged him to interpret the dream.

The sage answered him, “I myself cannot interpret, but there is a time on a certain day and in a certain month when I collect all the spices for the holy incense, and of these I make a recipe (he mixes them all together), and the person is fumigated with the incense, and the person keeps in mind what he wants to see and what he wants to know; then he knows everything.” So the King decided, since he had already spent so much time on this, he would wait till that day in that month (of which the sage had told him).

When the day came, the sage did so and fumigated him with the incense, so the King began to see, even what had happened with him before he was born, when the soul was still in the higher world (the other world). He saw how his soul was guided through all the worlds. And it was called out that whoever has some blame against him (something bad to say) about this soul, should come forward. No one was found to blame him. Meanwhile, one came along, and ran and cried out, “Lord of the Universe, hearken to my prayer; if this one comes into the world, what will I then have to do, and for what purpose did you create me?” (And he who shouted was Satan himself.) He shouted that if this soul comes down into the world, then he has nothing more to do. He was answered, “This soul must descend into the world, and you find yourself a remedy.”

So he went away (the one who shouted so), and the soul was further guided through worlds, till the soul was brought to the Heavenly Courts of Justice, in order to take the oath so that he may go down upon this world.

And he had still not come (the Satan who had shouted before had still not come). A messenger was sent for him [the Evil One], and he came and brought with him an old and bent one with whom he had a long been acquainted (the Evil One had known the old one a long time). He [ibid] laughed and he said, “I have already found myself a remedy. This soul may now go down into the world.” So the soul was allowed to come into the world.

And he (the King) saw what had happened with him from beginning to end, and how he became King, and the wars that he waged and the prisoners he took.

Among the prisoners there was a female beauty, who possessed every grace in the world. Only the grace did not come from within her, but from a diamond that hung upon her, the diamond had every grace; because of this it seemed that she was possessed of every grace.

And on the mountain can come only wise men and wealthy men, etc.

Further he [Rebbe Nachman] did not relate and there still is a very great deal to tell. (That which is here written about the prisoners was not recorded well, not as he related it.)

See Psalms, Chapter 3.
Interpret well the whole chapter and understand well, and you will see how there is a symbol of this whole story there.

[Translated by Esther Kenig]