Wednesday, 08 February 2017

Emunah and Bitachon

By D.H. (From Rebbe Nachman's Stories)

by GYE Member (See all authors)

There was once a king who loved nothing better than to go out alone in the clothes of a commoner. He wanted to meet the ordinary people of his kingdom--to learn their way of life, and especially their way of thinking about the world. One night, this king found himself walking in the poorest, narrowest street of the city. This was the street of the Jews. He heard a song in the distance. The king thought, "A song sung in this place of poverty must be a lament!" But as he got closer, he could hear the true character of the song: it was a song of pride! "Bai-yum-dum, bai-yum-bai, yum-bai, bai...."

The king was drawn to the source of the song: the smallest, humblest shack on that street. He knocked on the door. "Is a stranger welcome here?" The voice from within said, "A stranger is G-d's gift. Come in!"

In the dim light inside, the king saw a man sitting on the only piece of furniture, a wooden box. When the king came in, the man stood up and sat on the floor, offering the king the crate for a seat. "Well, my friend," the king asked, "what do you do to earn a living?" "Oh, I am a cobbler." "You have a shop where you make shoes?" "Oh, no, I could not afford a shop. I take my box of tools--you are sitting on it--to the side of the road. There I repair shoes for people as they need them." "You cobble shoes by the side of the road? Can you make enough money that way?" The cobbler spoke with both humility and pride. "Every day, I make just enough money to buy food for that day." "Just enough for one day? Aren't you afraid that one day you won't make enough, and then you'll go hungry?" "Blessed be the King, He is amazing and only does what is best."

The next day, the king determined to put this man's philosophy to the test. He issued a proclamation that anyone wishing to cobble shoes by the side of the road must purchase a license for fifty pieces of gold. That night, the king returned to the street of the Jews. Again he heard a song in the distance, and thought, "This time, the cobbler will be singing a different tune." But when the king neared the house he heard the cobbler sing the same song. Worse, it was even longer, with a new phrase that soared joyfully: "Ah, ha-ah-ah, ah-hah, ah-hah, ah-yai." The king knocked on the door. "Oh, my friend, I heard about that wicked king and his proclamation. I was so worried about you. Were you able to eat today?"

"Oh, I was angry when I heard I could not make my living in the way I always have. But I knew: I am entitled to make a living and I will find a way. As I stood there saying those very words to myself, a group of people passed me by. When I asked them where they were going, they told me: into the forest to gather firewood. Every day, they bring back wood to sell as kindling. When I asked if I could join them, they said, 'There is a whole forest out there. Come along!' "And so I gathered fire wood. At the end of the day, I was able to sell it for just enough money to buy food for today." The king sputtered. "Just enough for one day? What about tomorrow? What about next week?" "Blessed be the King, He is amazing and only does what is best."

The next day, the king again returned to his throne and issued a new proclamation: anyone caught gathering firewood in the royal forest would be inducted into the royal guard. For good measure, he issued another: no new members of the royal guard would be paid for forty days. That night, the king returned to the street of the Jews. Amazed, he heard the same song! But now, it had a third part that was militant and determined: "Dee, dee, dee, dee-dee, dee-dee, dah...." The king knocked on the door. "Cobbler, what happened to you today?" "They made me stand at attention all day in the royal guard! They issued me a sword and a scabbard. But then they told me I wouldn't be paid for forty days!" "Oh, my friend, I bet you wish now that you had saved some money." "Well, let me tell you what I did. At the end of the day, I looked at that metal sword blade. I thought to myself that must be valuable! So I removed the blade from the handle and fashioned another blade of wood. When the sword is in the scabbard, no one can tell the difference. I took the metal blade to a pawnbroker, and I pawned it for just enough money to buy food for one day." The king was stunned. "What if there's a sword inspection tomorrow?" "Blessed be the King, He is amazing and only does what is best."

The next day, the cobbler was pulled out of line in the king's guard. He was presented with a prisoner in chains. "Cobbler, this man has committed a horrible crime. You are to take him to the square. Using your sword, you are to behead him." “The cobbler thought to himself "If I take out my sword the King will see what I have done and surely I will be the one to have my head chopped off" Suddenly an idea came to the cobbler. He looked up at the crowd and announced, "Our King is a just King and would never let an innocent person die. I stand here before you about to pull my sword: if this man is guilty let my sword stay metal, and let this man get what he deserves; but, if he is innocent, let a miracle happen on behalf of the King and let my sword turn to wood!" He pulled his sword. The people gasped when they saw the wooden blade. They bowed down at the great miracle that had happened there. And they all sang praises to their amazing King, for whom a miracle just happened.

The king, who had been watching all of this, couldn't believe that even at the hardest moment this cobbler was not only able to get away but at the same time caused the greatest honor to the King. He took him by both his hands and looked him deep in the eyes. "I am the king. And I am your friend who has visited you these last nights. I want you to come live with me in the palace and be my adviser." Then, in front of everyone, the two of them danced and sang: "Bai-yum-dum, bai-yum-bai, yum-bai, bai...."(Rebbe Nachman Stories).

Many are going through some very difficult times, and it seems that every time something seems to start working out "The King" takes it away. But during these hard times, the only answer is Emunah and Bitachon! "Blessed be the King, He is amazing and only does what is best!" Every day has its own tests and tribulations, and if we have real Emunah and Bitachon, we will find some way to make it through and get what we need. And as we keep passing our tests, the hardest test will come, and we will think there is no way out! But a true believer will not only pass it but, as everyone stands by and watches, he will make the biggest Kiddush Hashem. And then, merit dancing with the King and living in the King's palace!