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The King???s Friend

Posted by Sir Knight Nash on August 22, 2013 at 6:25 AM

Based on an urban legend

By Bentzion Elisha

 

 

Once there lived a gentile king who delighted in having an audience with a particular rabbi who lived in the kingdom’s capital. The two would converse on various subjects, and the rabbi’s acuity and sharp intellect amazed the king again and again. No one could compare in counsel and wisdom to the charming rabbi.

 

The king had a fascination with outings to the country, and he would invite the rabbi so that they could discuss the kingdom’s happenings.

 

The rabbi had a way of always weaving into the conversation the idea of hashgacha pratit, divine providence, constantly seeking to connect the unfolding events with G‑d’s underlying presence and guiding hand.

 

The rabbi fumbled with the rifle, and a shot accidentally escaped from the weapon.

On one of these outings, the king decided to go hunting. Accompanied by the rabbi, his companion of choice, the king insisted that the rabbi also hunt together with him.

 

Unfamiliar with the sport, the rabbi fumbled with the rifle, and a shot accidentally escaped from the weapon. A bitter scream pierced the forest, a scream from none other than the king himself! The rabbi had mistakenly shot the king, damaging his hand forever by shooting off one of his fingers.

 

Enraged, the bleeding king had his guards imprison the rabbi immediately, with swift orders to put him into one of the dungeon’s prison chambers.

 

Months passed, and the king’s injury slowly healed. His hand was getting stronger, and his desire to go on one of his outings finally made him plan a most extravagant trip to many far-off lands.

 

Throughout his trips, he missed the wisdom and companionship of the brilliant rabbi.

 

In one particularly exotic location, the king was warned not to leave the camp grounds, because hostile natives lurked. But the king’s adventurous spirit was sparked by the idea of seeing the area as it was.

 

The king was warned not to leave the camp grounds, because hostile natives lurked.

On one of his forays outside the camp, the king was captured by cannibal tribesmen. As was their custom, they inspected their “merchandise” before cooking. They were alarmed to find that the enticing specimen before them had a missing finger. Immediately they declared it a bad omen, and discarded the king close to his campgrounds.

 

The king was beside himself with joy. The rabbi’s “blunder” had saved his life.

 

He immediately changed course and directed his entourage to return home. He had to speak to the rabbi.

 

When they arrived at the capital, the king immediately set the rabbi free.

 

He asked him:

 

“Dear rabbi, you have always spoken of divine providence, and how everything comes down from heaven for our good, and I see that here. But rabbi, I have one question: what was the divine providence as it relates to you? You were in the dungeon for months; where is the good in that?”

 

If I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been with you.

The rabbi smiled as he answered, “Your majesty, if I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been with you, and the cannibals would have eaten me, G‑d forbid.”

 

“What lesson can we take from all this?” asked the king.

 

After some thought, the rabbi answered.

 

“Perhaps the lesson is that everyone is essentially a friend of the ultimate King, the Creator of heaven and earth. Since He is a true and good friend who wants the very best for us, we must have faith that all our experiences, even the seemingly negative ones, are really for the best.”

 

BY BENTZION ELISHA

Rabbi Bentzion Elisha is an award-winning chassidic photographer and writer, based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, where he resides with his family.

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Categories: Religion

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