Translation:Tales of Rabbi Nachman/1

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Tales of Rabbi Nachman (Sipurei Ma'asiyot) by Nachman of Breslov, translated from Hebrew by Wikisource
The Lost Princess

On the way[1]I told [such] a story that whoever heard it had a thought of teshuvah, return. And this is the story.

[The Princess Is Lost][edit]

Once, there was a king. The king had six sons and one daughter. The daughter was very dear to him, and he would cherish (in other words, love) her exceedingly and play with her very much.

One time, while he was together with her on a certain day he became angry with her and the words, "Let the Not-Good take you away!" escaped from his mouth. At night she went to her room; in the morning no one knew where she was. Her father (the king) was very afflicted and went here and there looking for her. The viceroy [lit. second in kingship] arose because he saw the king was very distressed, and asked to be given an attendant, a horse and money for expenses, and he went to search for her. He searched hard for her, for a very long time, until he found her. (Now he tells how he searched for her until he found her.)

[The Viceroy Seeks Her a Long Time, Until He Finds Her][edit]

He went a long time, in deserts, fields and forests, and was seeking her quite a long time. He was going around in desert area and saw a way from the side. He decided, "Since I have been going for such a long time in the wilderness and cannot find her, I will follow this path; maybe I will reach a settled area." He went for a long time.

Later on he saw a castle and many soldiers standing around it. The castle was very beautiful, with the soldiers standing around it in fine order. He was afraid of the soldiers lest they not let him enter. He decided, "I will go and try," and he left the horse and went to the castle. They let him [enter], and did not hinder him at all, so he went from room to room, and they did not stop him. He came to a palace and saw the king sitting there with a crown and many soldiers standing around him. And many were playing on instruments for him and it was very pleasant and beautiful there. And [neither] the king nor any of them asked the viceroy a thing. And he saw there delicacies and good foods, and he went and ate, and went and lay down in a corner to see what would be done there.

He saw that the king called for the queen to be brought, and they went to bring her. And there was a great commotion and a great celebration, and the musicians played and sang vigorously because they were bringing the queen. And they placed a throne for her and seated her next to him. And she was the king's daughter, and he (the viceroy) saw her and recognized her. Later, the queen glanced and saw someone lying in a corner. She recognized him and rose from her throne, went to him, touched him and asked him, "Do you recognize me?" And he answered her, "Yes, I know you. You are the king's daughter who was lost."

[The Princess's Advice; the Viceroy Fails][edit]

He asked her, "How is it that you've come here?" She answered him: because that utterance slipped out from her father (namely, that "the Not-Good should take you"), and here, this is the place that is Not-Good." He told her that her father was very distressed, and that he had been searching for many years. And he asked her, "How can I take you out?" She answered him, "You cannot take me out unless you choose for yourself a place and remain there for one year; and the entire year you must yearn for me, to take me out; and whenever you have free time you must only yearn, ask and hope expectantly to take me out, and you must fast. And on the last day of the year you must fast and you must not sleep the entire twenty-four hour period [lit. from period to period]." He went and did so, and at the end of the year on the last day he fasted and did not sleep, and he arose and went there (that is, to the king's daughter, to take her out). He beheld a tree; on this tree grew very beautiful apples. He had a big craving for it and he went and ate from them. As soon as he ate the apple, he fell down and sleep overtook him, and he slept a very long time. His attendant tried to wake him, but he could not be awakened at all.

Later he awoke from his sleep and asked the attendant, "Where am I in the world?" He [the attendant] told him the whole story. "You have been sleeping a very long time. It is already several years. And I have sustained myself from the fruit." He [the viceroy] agonized very much, and went there and found her there (that is, the king's daughter). She lamented to him very much. "If you would have just come on that day you would have taken me out of here, and because of one day you lost. (In other words, because you could not restrain yourself one day and you ate the apple, because of that you lost.) In truth, not to eat is a very difficult thing, especially on the last day, when the evil inclination becomes very strong. (That is, the king's daughter said to him that now she would make the prohibition more lenient, and he would not be forbidden to eat, because it is a hard thing to abide by, etc.) Therefore choose for yourself a place again, and also stay there a year, as before, and on the last day you will be permitted to eat — only, do not sleep, and do not drink wine so that you will not sleep, because the main thing is sleep." He went and did so.

On the last day he was going there, and he saw a running spring, and its color was red and the smell was of wine. He asked the servant, "Have you seen? This is a spring, and there ought to be water in it, but its color is red and the smell is of wine!" And he went and tasted from the spring. He immediately fell down and slept many years, until seventy years. There were many troops going along, with their trains that follow behind them, and the servant hid himself because of the soldiers. After that went a carriage and covered wagons, and there sat the king's daughter. She stood next to him, went down and sat next to him and recognized him. And she tried very much to wake him, but he could not be woken. She started to lament over him, that "so many, so many great efforts and toils you tortuously made these many, many years in order to take me out, and for one day, when you could have taken me out, you completely lost," and she cried very much about this. She said, "It is a great pity on you and on me, that I am here such a long time and cannot go out," etc. Afterwards she took the scarf off her head, and wrote on it with her tears and laid it down next to him, and stood up and sat in her carriage and rode away.

[The Princess's Lament; How She Can Yet Be Found][edit]

Afterwards he awoke and asked the attendant, "Where am I in the world?" He told him the whole story, and that many troops passed through there, and that the carriage was here, and that she [the king's daughter] screamed, "It is a great pity on you and on me" etc. as before. Meanwhile, he glanced and noticed the scarf lying next to him. He asked, "Who is this from?" He answered him, "She left it behind and wrote on it with her tears." He took the scarf and raised it up against the sun and began to see the letters. He read what was written there: her lamentation and her cries, as mentioned; and (it was written there) that now, she is no longer in the castle; he should just search for a golden mountain and a pearl castle; "There, you will find me." He left the attendant behind and went alone to seek her. And he went and sought her for many years. He decided that in a settled area there cannot be a golden mountain and a pearl castle, because he was an expert in the world map [which is called kroinikes/a chronicle]. "Therefore I will go in the deserts." He went searching for her in deserts for many years.

Afterwards he noticed a very large man whose largeness was beyond human bounds and he was carrying a large tree, so large that in a settled area such a large tree would not exist, and he [the giant] asked him, "Who are you?" He answered him, "I am a man." He was amazed and said, "I have been in the wilderness such a long time now, and I have never seen a man." He told him the whole story mentioned above and that he's looking for a golden mountain and a pearl castle. He replied to him, "It certainly does not exist." And he dissuaded him and said to him, "They have convinced you with nonsense, because it certainly does not exist." He started to weep very much (the viceroy cried very much and said), "With certainty it does exist, in some place." But he dissuaded him and said, "Certainly they have convinced you with nonsense." He said, "Certainly it exists somewhere!" He said to him, "In my opinion it is nonsense, but because you are so stubborn, look — I am the appointee over all the animals. I will act for your sake and summon all the animals. Since they run all over the world, maybe one of them will know of that mountain and that castle." He summoned all the animals from small to large, all sorts of animals, and asked them. They all replied that they had not seen. He said to him, "See, they have talked nonsense into you. If you want to listen to me, turn back, because certainly you will not find [it], because it does not exist in the world." But he pressed him very much and said, "It must surely indeed be!" He said to him, "Look, I have a brother in the wilderness and he is the appointee over all the birds. Maybe they will know, since they fly high in the air. Maybe they have seen this mountain and the castle. Go to him, and tell him that I've sent you to him."

He went many, many years seeking him [the appointee over the animals] and again found a very large man, as before, and he also carried a large tree and also questioned him as before. He answered him with the whole story and that his brother had sent him to him, and he too dissuaded him [the viceroy] since, "This certainly does not exist;" and the viceroy also disputed with him, "It certainly does exist!" He told him (this man told the viceroy), "I am the appointee over all the birds; I will summon them; maybe they will know." He called up all the birds and asked all of them, from small to large. They answered him that they do not know of the mountain and the castle. He told him, "Don't you see it is certainly not here in the world? If you will listen to me, turn back, because it certainly is not here." And he pressed him and said, "It certainly is here in the world!" He told him, "Further in the wilderness is my brother; he is appointee over all the winds and they run over the whole world; perhaps they know."

He went many, many years seeking him and again found a large man, as before, who was also carrying a large tree and also questioned him, as before. He also answered him with the whole story, as before. He also dissuaded him, and the viceroy implored him likewise. He said to him (this third man to the viceroy) that he would act for his sake and summon the winds and ask them. He called them and all the winds came and he asked all of them. Not one of them knew of the mountain and the castle. He said to him (the third man to the viceroy), "Don't you see that you have been told nonsense?" The viceroy began to cry very much and said, "I know it surely does exist!"

Just then, he saw that another wind had arrived. The appointee became angry with him. "Why have you so delayed in coming? Didn't I decree that all the winds should come? Why didn't you come with them?!" He answered him, "I was delayed because I had to carry a king's daughter to a golden mountain with a pearl castle." He was overjoyed (the viceroy was very happy that he now merited hearing what he desired.) The appointee asked the wind, "What is valuable there?" (That is, "What things are precious and important there?") He said to him, "There, everything is very dear."

The appointee over the winds replied to the viceroy, "Since it is such a long time that you have been searching for her, and you have spent so much effort, and perhaps you will now have a hindrance due to money, therefore I will give you a vessel, [such] that when you put your hand into it, you will get money from there." And he summoned the wind to carry him there. The storm wind came and carried him there and brought him to the gate, and standing there were soldiers who did not let him enter the city. He put his hand into the vessel and took out money and bribed them and went into the city. It was a beautiful city. And he went to a man of means and rented food and lodging for himself, for one must remain there, for one needs to see with wisdom and intellect in order to take her out. (And how he took her out, he did not tell.) (But) in the end, he took her out. Amen, Selah.


  1. "In that year of [5]566 after the child [his son Shlomo Efraim z"l] passed away, he went on the road to Medvedevka and its environs, and there he began to tell the first story in Sipurei Ma`asiyot. And when he returned from the trip I was at his [place] and he repeated and told before us that story and he said, "On the way I told a story" etc., and then he said, "Now I'm going to start telling stories" etc. as printed there in Sipurei Ma`asiyot." (Yemey Moharnat II #11)