Translation:Tales of Rabbi Nachman/11

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Tales of Rabbi Nachman (Sipurei Ma'asiyot) by Nachman of Breslov, translated by Wikisource
The King's Son and Bondmaid's Son Who Were Switched

[The Switch][edit]

A Tale. There once was a king. In his home there was a bondmaid [Yid./Heb. shifchah] who served the queen. (Generally no cook may enter in the king's presence, but this bondmaid had some other service, a minor service.) The time came when the queen was supposed to have a child, and the bondmaid had to give birth at that time as well. The granny [Yid. bubbe, Heb. meyaledeth, midwife] went and switched the babies to see what will happen; what will arise from this. So she took the king's child and put him down next to the bondmaid, and the bondmaid's son she put by the queen.

Afterwards the children began to grow up, and the king's son (that is, the child who grew up at the king's whom they thought was the king's son) they promoted (that is, made great) and kept raising higher and higher until he became extremely great and was a very important person[1]. And the bondmaid's son (that is, he who was reared by the bondmaid, who in truth was the king's son) also grew up at the maid's, and both children studied together in one schoolroom. And the king's true son (who shall be called "the bondmaid's son"), his nature was drawn to the manners of royalty, except that he was brought up in the home of the servant[2]. Conversely, the bondmaid's son (who shall be called "the king's son"), his nature was drawn to a different deportment not like the bearing of a king is, except that he was brought up in the king's home so he had to act according to the manners of a royal person, because those were the manners they brought him up with.

Now the granny, because women are da`athan kaloth [lit. light minded], in other words, they cannot hold themselves back, went and spoke out the secret to some person, inasmuch as she had exchanged the children. Now, every person has a friend, and that friend has another friend, thus one person told the other until the secret was revealed, as the way of the world is, until the world was talking quietly about it, that the king's son was switched. But it was not permitted to speak about it outright, so that the king should not become aware of it, for what will the king be able to do in such a case, since he cannot correct it? For he cannot believe it, as perhaps it is a lie, so how can one reverse the exchange? Therefore one certainly may not say it out in front of the king; however, amongst themselves the public talked about it quietly.

The day arrived when someone came along and told out the secret before the king's son, inasmuch as they say about him that he was exchanged. "However, you cannot investigate this, for it does not befit you. And how can one probe such a thing? Just, I am telling it to you in order that you should know. For perhaps there will once be a conspiracy against the monarchy; the conspiracy will be able to prevail through this, for they will say that they are taking to themselves the king's son as a king, that is, the one who they say of him that he is the king's true son, as mentioned before. Therefore you need to outwit the fellow." (All this said that person to the king's son who in actual truth is the bondmaid's son, as mentioned.)

The king's son (that is, the one who is called the king's son. And the rule is that wherever simply "the king's son" is mentioned, it refers to the exchanged one. That is, he is actually the bondmaid's son, except that he is called the king's son because he was raised at the king's. And similarly with the "bondmaid's son" where a bondmaid's son is mentioned: only where "the king's true son" or "the bondmaid's true son" is mentioned, then the meaning is the actual truth.) went and began to do mischief to the other one's father (who was really his own father), and arranged everything to constantly do him evil. And he kept dealing him mischiefs one after another in order that he should have to be uprooted[3] along with his son. Now the whole time the king himself still lived, he did not yet have so much authority; nonetheless he kept dealing him woes.

Afterwards the king grew old and died, so he assumed the reign (that is, the bondmaids's son who is now called the king's son, as mentioned above); then he dealt even more evil to the other son's father (that is, to the father of the bondmaid's son who in truth was the king's son; and this father was really his own father, of the one who had taken up the reign, for they were exchanged, as above). And he dealt him evil disguised so that people would not know that it's from him, for it's unseemly in front of people, and kept dealing him mischiefs one after another.

This one [the son's father] understood that he is dealing him woes on account of the matter (that is, because the public discusses that the children were exchanged). He (that is, the bondservant, the bondmaid's husband who was constantly dealt woes in order that he should drive out his son because they say that the children were exchanged, as mentioned) spoke up and said to his son and told him the whole affair and said to him, "I have great pity on you, for any way you approach it [mimah nafshakh[4], lit. "from wherever your soul (is drawn)," possibly a double meaning here]: if indeed you are my child, of course I certainly have great pity on you; if indeed you are not my child but are in truth the king's son, there is even greater pity on you, because that one (that is, he who took over the reign) wants to expel you entirely, perish the thought. Therefore, you must pull up (that is, run away) from here."

It irritated him very much and he felt very bad about the thing. However, the king (that is, the one who became king in place of his father, because it seemed he is the king's son due to the interchange) meanwhile kept constantly dealing out woes one after another, so the son (that is, the king's true son who was exchanged) decided he must run away. His father gave him a great deal of money and he left. It upset him very much that he was driven out of his country for nothing, for he looked around him: "Why do I deserve it that I should be driven out? If indeed I am the king's son, I certainly don't deserve this, that I should be driven out. And even if I am not the king's son, I also don't deserve this, that I should be a fugitive (that is, one who has run away) for nothing. For, what is my sin? What am I guilty of here?" It upset him very much, and on account of this he took to the drink and went to brothels (that is, to houses where there are whores). And with that he wanted to spend his years, getting drunk and following after what his heart desires, because he was driven away for nothing.

And the king (that is, the false prince, the exchanged one who became king) took over the kingship strongly, and when he heard anything about people murmuring and discussing anything about it (that is, that they were switched, as mentioned) he penalized them (in other words, punished and tortured) and took his revenge on them. So he ruled with force and strength.

And the day came to pass when the king went with his noblemen on a catch ("na ulavi" [<Rus.]: that is, catching animals) and they came to a pleasant place. And a river of water was ahead of that spot, so they stopped there to rest themselves and they wanted to walk around. The king lay down for a little bit, and the deed that he had done, that he had driven away that certain person for nothing, came to his mind. For, any way you look at it[4]: if he's indeed the king's son, is it not enough that he was exchanged? Why should he in addition be driven out for nothing? And if he is not the king's son, he also does not deserve to be driven away, for what had he done wrong? The king thought himself away in this matter, and had remorse over the transgression and the great injustice that he had done. And the king could give himself no advice what he should do here. And to talk about it — one cannot do such a thing with any person at all, to take counsel with him (for one is obviously ashamed to discuss such things with people). So the king became very laden with great worry. He ordered the nobles to turn back, because since worry has befallen him there is no need to tour any more. They returned home. When the king returned home, he of course had numerous affairs and concerns, and he busied himself with his concerns and the thing left his mind (that is, the worry and the remorse that he had over the fact that he had driven away the other for no reason).

And the one who was driven away (that is, the king's true son) — well, he did what he did and squandered his money. One time, he went out alone for a walk; and he lay down and it came to his mind what had happened to him and he thought: "What has God done to me? If I am indeed the king's son I certainly don't deserve this, and if I am not the king's son I also don't deserve this selfsame thing, that I should be a fugitive and an exile." Then he reached settledness in his mind, "Just the reverse. If it is so, that Hashem Yithbarakh can indeed do such a thing, that they should exchange a king's son and such things should befall him — do I turn myself to behave this way? Is it right, what I have done? Does it befit me that I should behave thus, the way I have done?" And he began to have great anguish and very much regret the bad deeds he had done. Then he turned back home, there where he was staying, and further took to the drink. However, because he had already begun to have remorse, the thoughts of remorse and repentance which came to his mind all the time would confuse him.

[The Dream, the Job and the Forest][edit]

One time he laid himself down to sleep and the dream came to him to the effect: In such and such a place there is a fair on such and such a day; therefore he should go there, and whatever he strikes first — any gainful service — he should immediately do it, even if it won't be according to his dignity (thus went his dream). And he woke up with a start and the dream was very much in his thought. For sometimes it happens that the matter immediately goes out from the thought. But rather, this dream very much entered in his thought. Albeit, nonetheless, it seemed very hard for him to do this, and he went more to the drink. And the dream appeared to him again several times, and the dream confused him a great deal.

One time they said to him in the dream, "If you want to have pity on yourself, do thus" (that is, he should go to the fair etc. as mentioned), so now he had to carry out the dream. And he went ahead and left the remaining money he still had, leaving it at the inn where he was staying; and the good clothes which he had, he also left at the inn; and he took for himself a simple garment like merchants, that is, a coverall, and he set out for the fair and arrived there. And he got up very early and went to the fair.

A certain merchant encountered him and said to him, "Would you like to earn something?" He answered him, "Yes." He said to him, "I need to drive herds [behemoth, dumb beasts][5] here. Will you hire yourself out to me?" And he didn't have time to settle his mind, due to the dream (for the dream had been that he must take on the first gainful work etc. as mentioned), and he immediately answered, "Yes." And the merchant immediately hired him and immediately began to lord over him like a master over his servants. And he began to look around himself, what he had done, for he certainly doesn't deserve such a servitude, for he is a delicate man and now he'll have to drive herds and go by foot next to the beasts. However, one already can't have any regret, and the merchant is lording over him like a master. He asked the merchant, "How shall I go alone with the herds?" He answered, "I have more herdsmen driving my herds. You'll go together with them," and he gave over to his hands certain herds to drive. He led the herds out of the town, and there, gathered together, were the rest of the herdsmen driving beasts.

They went together; he was driving the herds, and the merchant was riding on a horse and going along with them. And the merchant was driving cruelly (that is, with anger and without compassion), and against him he was extra cruel, and he grew more and more terrified of the merchant, since he saw in him that he has extremely great cruelty and anger against him. And he feared in case he deals him a blow with his stick then he'll die instantly (for the king's [true] son was quite a frail person and on account of his sensitivity he was very terrified, thus he thought that way). So he was walking with the herds, and the merchant with them. And they came to a certain spot; they took the sack wherein lies the herdsmen's bread, and he (the merchant) gave them to eat; him too they gave from the bread and he ate.

Afterwards, they were walking by a very thick forest; two beasts from his herds (of this son who had become a herder for the merchant) walked off into the forest. The merchant yelled at him and he went after the beasts to capture them. And the beasts ran away further and he pursued them more; and since the forest was very thick, it was as soon as he entered the forest that they already could not see each other, so he immediately disappeared (that is, became hidden) from their eyes (that is, from the rest who were going with him). And he (that is, the king's [true] son) from whom the two beasts walked off, kept going and still chasing after the beasts and they kept running away. And he chased after them a great deal, until he arrived in the thick of the forest.

He made up his mind: "Either way [lit. be what will be], I'm already going to die, because if I return without the beasts I'll die through the merchant" (for on account of the great fear that he had of the merchant, it seemed to him that the merchant would kill him if he returns without the beasts). And if I'll be here I will also die by the animals of the forest." He decided, "Why should I return to the merchant? How can I come to him without the beasts?" For he had great fear of him. He went and chased further after the beasts and they kept running away. Meanwhile it became night, and such a thing he has never had, that he should have to sleep alone at night in such a thick forest. And he heard the roaring of the beasts which roared in their usual way. He made up his mind and went up on a tree and spent the night there, and he heard the sound of the beasts yelling in their usual way.

In the morning he took a look: he saw that the beasts are standing close by him. He got down the tree and went to catch them; they got away further. He went after them more and they got away more. And the beasts found themselves some grasses to eat there and they stopped to graze. He went further to catch them; they got away further. And thus he kept going after them and they run away, he goes after them more and they run away — until he has arrived in very thick forest where there were already animals[6] that have no fear whatsoever of any people, because they are far from settled places. And again it has become night and he heard the sound of the animals roaring and he was very terrified.

Meanwhile he noticed that a very large tree is standing there, and he got up on the tree. As soon as he was up on the tree he noticed: a man is lying there. He took fright but still he was relieved for the reason that he has found a human here. They asked one another, "Who are you?" "A man." "Who are you?" "A man." "From where have you come here?" He did not want to tell what had happened to him, so he answered him, "By way of the dumb beasts which I tended. Two beasts walked off here, and thereby I've arrived here." In return he asked the other man whom he found there on the tree, "From where did you get here?" He answered him, "I got here by the horse. For I was riding on a horse; I stopped to take a rest and the horse went off into the forest. I chased after it to catch it and the horse ran away further, until I arrived here."

They made up between them that they should remain together, and they agreed that even when they will come into civilization they should also remain together. And the two of them slept the night there and they heard the sound of the beasts roaring and screaming very much. Towards day he heard a very great laughter ("kha kha kha") over the entire forest (in other words, the sound of the laughter went over all the forest), for it was a very great laughter, to the extent that the tree trembled from the sound of the laughter, and he became very terrified and had great fear from it. The other person said to him (that is, the man whom he had found there on the tree), "I already have no fear of it whatsoever, for I've slept here already several nights. All nights are like this; as it gets close to day, one hears the laughter, to the extent that all the trees tremble and quake."

He was very frightened and said to the other, "It seems that here is the place of 'those people' (that is, of the demons), for in settled areas one does not hear such a laughter at all, for who has heard a laughter over the entire world?" Then immediately it became day. They took a look; they saw: the beasts of his are standing, and the horse of the other is also standing. They went down and started chasing after — this one after the beasts and that one after the horse. And the beasts ran away further, and he chases more, etc. as before. And likewise the other keeps chasing after the horse and the horse keeps running away, until they [the two men] have gone off, one from the other, and one already did not know of the other['s whereabouts].

Meanwhile he (that is, the king's son who was still chasing after the beasts) found a sack with bread. Now this is certainly very important in a wilderness, so he took the sack on his shoulders and went after the beasts.

[The Man of the Forest][edit]

Meanwhile he encountered a man. Initially he was afraid; however, still he had a little relief because has he found a person here. The man asked him, "How did you get here?" He asked the other man in return, "How did you get here?" The other man answered him, "I (with an expression of amazement) — my parents and my parents' parents were raised here. But you, how have you come here? For, no man whatsoever comes here from the settled areas." He was very frightened, for he understood that this is no human being at all, for he says his ancestors were raised here and no man from civilization comes at all here, so he understood that this is no human at all. But still he did not do anything to him whatsoever and was welcoming (that is, this man of the forest did not do any harm to the king's [true] son who was going after the beasts).

And the man of the forest said to him, "What are you doing here?" He answered: he is chasing after the dumb beasts. The man (of the forest) said to him, "Stop chasing after your sins already, for it is not beasts at all but rather your sins are leading you around like this. Enough already! You have already received yours (that is, your punishment you've already received). Now stop chasing them any more. Come with me; you will arrive at the thing that is fitting for you." He went with him, and he was afraid to speak with him and to ask him anything, for a man like this may open up his mouth and swallow him down. He followed him.

Meanwhile, he encountered his friend who was chasing after the horse. As soon as he saw him he immediately winked at him (to signal) that "this is no human being at all; don't have any dealings with him whatsoever, because this is not at all a human." And he immediately went and whispered it to him in his ear, that this is not a human being at all, etc. Meanwhile his friend (that is, the horseman) took a look and he saw: he has a sack with bread on his shoulder! He began to appeal to him, "My brother! It is already days that I have not eaten. Give me bread!" He answered him, "Here in the wilderness nothing helps, for my life takes priority; I need the bread for my sake." He began to beg him and beseech him greatly, "I'll give what I'll give you!" (Except, in the wilderness certainly no gift helps at all for bread)." He answered him, "What can you give me for bread in the wilderness?" He said to him (that is, the horseman who begged for the bread said to the herdsman, who is the king's true son), "I give away myself entirely; I will sell myself to you as a servant for the bread." He (that is, the herdsman) decided: "To purchase a man it's worth it to give him bread," and he bought him as a permanent slave. And he swore him in with oaths that he shall be a slave to him forever, even when they arrive in civilization, and he will give him bread, that is, they shall both eat from the sack of bread until it runs out.

And the both of them went together and followed the man of the forest, and the slave walked behind him (that is, the horseman who sold himself as a slave followed after the herdsman, for he was already his slave, and the two of them walked after the man of the forest). And meanwhile now it became a little bit easier for him (since he has a servant already). When he needed to lift up some object or do something else he ordered his slave to lift it or do something. So they followed together behind the man of the forest and they came to a place where there were snakes and scorpions; he grew very terrified, and on account of fear he asked the man of the forest, "How will we get past here?" He answered him, "Ella ma'i (but what then? isn't this too a wonder?)[7] — how will you enter my house?" — and showed him his house standing in the air. They went with him and he brought them over in peace, and he brought them into his house, gave them [things] to eat and to drink, and went away.

And he (that is, the king's true son who had driven the beasts) ordered his slave around for whatever he needed. It upset the slave very much that he had sold himself as a slave for the sake of a single hour when he needed bread to eat, because now he already has what to eat and just for the sake of a single hour he will be an eternal slave. And he made a big sigh and groaned, "What have I come to, that I should be a slave?" He asked him (that is, the king's true son, who was his master, asked him), "What kind of greatness did you have, that you sigh that you have come to this?"

He answered him and recounted to him to the effect: He had been a king; they said about him that he had been exchanged etc., as above (for this horseman was really the king himself, who was actually the bondmaid's son); he drove his friend away (that is, the king's true son). One time it came upon his mind that he has done not right and he regretted etc. Regrets kept coming to him constantly over the evil deed and over the great injustice that he has done against his friend. Once, the dream appeared to him that his correction is that he should throw away the kingship and go wherever his eyes will bring him, and by this he will rectify his error. He didn't want to do it, but those same dreams kept perplexing him constantly, that he should do so, until it remained in his mind that he should do so. So he threw away the kingship and went where he went until he came here. And now he'll be a slave.

Now the other one hears all this and keeps silent (that is, the king's true son who had driven beasts heard out all this that he told him), and he thought to himself, "I will know well enough how to deal with you."

At night, the man of the forest came and gave them to eat and to drink, and they spent the night there. Towards day they heard the great laughter (mentioned earlier), until all the trees trembled; it broke all the trees (the sound of the laughter). He urged him (that is, the slave urged the king's true son, who is his master) to ask the man of the forest what it is. He asked him, "What is this such great laughter, close to day?" He answered him, "This is the day laughing at the night, for the night asks the day, 'Why when you come do I have no name?' The day lets out a big laugh and then it becomes day. And this is the laughter that is heard close to day." This was a big wonder to him, for this is something extraordinary, that the day laughs at the night. (He could already ask no more, when the other answers with such language.)

In the morning again the man of the forest went away and they ate and drank there; at night he came back and they ate and drank and spent the night there. At night they heard the sound of the animals as they all screamed and roared with wild [i.e. extraordinary] sounds. The lion screamed, the leopard roared with another sound, and similarly the rest of the beasts, each beast roaring with a different sound, and the birds whistled and clicked, and so all gave voice with wild sounds. And at the beginning they became very scared; they did not listen correctly to the sound on account of fear. Later, they bowed their ears and listened; they heard it's a sound of a melody; they sing quite a nice tune which is an extraordinary novelty. They listened even more; they heard it's an extraordinarily fine melody that is quite a wild marvel which was an extremely great pleasure to hear, [such] that all the pleasures of the world are completely nothing and amount to absolutely nothing in compare to the wildly great pleasure that one has when one hears this wondrous tune. They discussed between themselves that they want already to remain here, since for eating and drinking they have, and they have such a delight that is such a marvel that all kinds of delights of the world were entirely nullified against this pleasure. The slave urged his master (that is, the king's true son) to ask him (that is, the man of the forest) what it is; he asked him.

He answered him: Inasmuch as the sun has made a garment for the moon, all the animals of the forest have spoken up to the effect that the moon does them great favors, for the animals' dominion is mainly at night only. For sometimes they need to go into a settled area, and by day they cannot, so of course the main time of their dominion is only at night. And the moon does them such a favor by shining for them at night; therefore they agreed that they should make a new melody in honor of the moon, and this is the tune that you hear. When they heard it's a melody they listened even more; they heard it's quite a lovely, sweet melody that is an extremely wild novelty.

He replied to them (that is, the man of the forest) "What — is this such a novelty for you? Ella ma'i [But what then?][7] — I have an instrument[8] which I've received from my forebears, who inherited it from their forebears' forebears, which this instrument was made with such things, with such leaves and with such colors, that when one takes the instrument and puts it on whatever beast or on whatever bird then it immediately begins to play this melody (that is, the melody that the animals played)." Then the laughter happened again and it became day; the man of the forest again went away and he (that is, the king's true son) went searching for the instrument. And he searched out the entire room and did not find, and he was fearful to go any further. And they (that is, the king's true son with his slave who is the bondmaid's son who before was king) were afraid to say to the man of the forest that he should lead them into settlement.

Later the man of the forest came and said to them that he would lead them into settlement. He led them into settlement, and he took the instrument and gave it to the king's true son and said to him, "The instrument I give to you. And with him (that is, with his slave who before was king etc.) — you will know how to deal with him." They asked him, "Where shall we go?" He said to them that they should inquire after the land that is called by this name: "The Foolish Land with the Wise King (Das Nayrishe Land un der Kluger Malchus)." They asked him, "To which side [Yid. tsayt[9]; compare with zayt further below; Heb. tzad] should we start to ask after this land?" He showed them with his hand: right here (as someone points with a finger). The man of the forest said to the king's true son, "Go there, to the land, and there you will come to your greatness."

[The Foolish Land with the Wise King][edit]

They went where they went, and they very much wished to find any animal or beast to test the instrument, whether it would be able to play (as before). However they still did not see any sort of animal. Then they arrived further into settlement. They found some beast and laid the instrument down on it and it began to play the tune (as before). So they went and went until they came to the land. And the land was walled about and one could not enter in the land except by one gateway. One must go around several miles until one comes to the gateway. They went around until they came to the gateway. When they had now arrived at the gateway, they did not want to let them enter, inasmuch as the king of the land had died; the king's son remained and the king had left a will: "Inasmuch as the land has hereto been called Das Nayrishe Land un der Kluger Malchus ("The Foolish Land with the Wise King"), now it will already be called the reverse: Das Kluger Land un der Nayrisher Malchus ("The Wise Land with the Foolish King"). And whoever will undertake that he should return the land to the first name, that is, that they will once again call the land by its first name, Das Nayrishe Land un der Kluger Malchus — the same shall become king" — therefore they do not let any man into the land except he who will undertake the same, that he should return the land to the first name. They said to him, "Can you undertake this, that you should return the country to its first name?" He certainly could not undertake this, so they could not enter. His slave urged him that they should return home. However he did not want to return because the man of the forest had said to him that he should go to this land and there he will arrive at his greatness.

[Another Horseman; Understanding One Thing From Another][edit]

Meanwhile another man arrived who was riding on a horse, and he wanted to go in but they also did not let him in on account of this (as mentioned). Meanwhile he noticed that this other man's horse is standing so he went ahead and took the instrument and laid it down on the horse and it began to play the very fine melody (as above). The horseman pleaded him very much that he should sell it to him, and he replied, "What can you give me for such a wondrous instrument?"

The horseman said to him, "Well, what can you do with this instrument except perform theatrics and take in a gulden? I however know a thing that is better than your instrument. I know a thing I've received from my parents' parents: to be an extrapolater [mevin davar mitokh davar]. That is, I know such a thing that I've received from the forebears of my forebears, that through this thing one can make inference. When somebody says just any utterance, one knows, through that which I have received, one should discern something from one thing (that is, one thing from the other). And I have not yet spoken out the thing before any man in the world. Therefore, I will teach out to you this certain thing, and you will give me this here instrument for that."

He decided (that is, the king's true son, who had the instrument) it is truly a great wonder to be an extrapolater. So he gave away the instrument to him and he (that is, the horseman) went ahead and instructed him so that he should be an extrapolater. Now the king's true son, since he has now gotten the ability to extrapolate, was walking around there by the gate of the country, and he understood that it is indeed possible for him to undertake it to return the land to its first name. For he had now after all become an extrapolater; thus he understood it is possible, even though he did not yet know just how and by what way he will be able to do this, to restore the first name to the country. But nevertheless because he had become able to extrapolate, he understood it is possible.

He made up his mind he would order himself let in and he would undertake it that he would return its first name to the country. What would he lose here? He said (to those people who did not want to let him in) that they should let him in and he will take under himself that very thing, that he would return the first name to the country. They let him in, and they informed the noblemen that there is found a man who wants to undertake it to return the land to the first name. They brought him to the noblemen of the land.

The noblemen said to him, "You should know that we too are no fools, God forbid, except the king that had been[10] — he was a very extraordinarily great sage, such that against him we were all fools. Therefore the land used to be called 'The Foolish Land with the Wise Government (malkhuth).' Then the king died; the king's son remained, and the king's son is also a wise man, except against us he is not at all smart. Therefore the land is now called conversely: 'The Smart Land with the Foolish Government.'

"The king left a will: when there will be found such a wise person that he should return the land to the first name, he shall be king. And he commanded his son that when such a man will be found, he shall step down from the reign for him: that is, when there will be found such a wise man that he will be such an extraordinarily great sage that against him everyone will be fools, he will become king, for this man will surely bring back the land once more to its first name, 'The Foolish Land with the Smart King,' for they are after all fools against him. Therefore you should know what you are taking under yourself here." (All such did the noblemen say to him.)

[The Test: The Garden and the Man][edit]

In addition they (that is, the noblemen again; this is all a continuation of their words) said to him, "The test will be whether you are this wise: Inasmuch as there is a garden that is left over from a king who had been, who was a very great sage, and the garden is quite an extraordinary novelty — metal instruments grow in it (that is, tools of ironwork), silver instruments and gold instruments — so it is an extremely wild novelty: However, one cannot go in the garden, for when a person goes in the garden then immediately they begin chasing him. So they chase and he screams and he doesn't at all know and doesn't at all see who is chasing him, and so they chase him continuously until they make him run away from the garden. Therefore, we shall see whether you are wise; if you'll be able to go into the garden."

He asked whether they beat the person who enters. They said to him: the main thing is they chase him and he doesn't at all know who they are that chase him and he has to run away in very great panic. For thus people who had gone in there told them. (All thus did the noblemen say to the king's true son.)

He got up and went to the garden. He saw there is a wall around it, and the gate is open and there aren't any guards there, for one certainly doesn't need any guards for this garden (for no one is able to go in it, as mentioned)! He (that is, the king's true son) was walking by the garden and he took a look: he noticed that standing there by the garden is a man. That is, a man was portrayed there.[11] He looked some more and he saw that above the man there is a sign, and there it is written that the man — this was a king several hundred years ago, and in the king's times there was peace, for until this king there were wars and likewise after him there were wars but in the days of this king there was peace.

He understood, because he had already gotten the ability to extrapolate, that it all depends on this man. When one enters the garden and they start to chase him, he needs not run away at all but just put himself next to the man; thereby he will be saved. Moreover even if one takes this man and inserts him inside in the interior[12] of the garden then every man will be able to enter in peace into this garden. (All this the king's true son understood because he had become able to infer.)

He got up and went inside the garden, and as soon as they started chasing him he went and put himself next to the man standing by the garden from the outside, and thereby he emerged in peace and it did not harm him at all. For, others when they entered in the garden and they started chasing them would run away in very great panic and were consequently battered, but he emerged in peace and tranquility by placing himself next to the man.

And the noblemen saw this and were astonished that he got out safely. Then he ordered (that is, the king's true son called) that they should take the man and insert him inside within the midst of the garden. They did so and then all the noblemen entered inside the garden and they passed through and got out safely.

[Another Test: The Throne and the Things Around It][edit]

The noblemen spoke up to him, "Still, even though we have seen from you such a thing, nevertheless for the sake of one thing you do not yet deserve to be given the kingship. We will try you further with one thing. Inasmuch as there is a throne here from the king who was, and the throne is very high and by the throne stand all sorts of animals and birds carved out of wood: And in front of the throne stands a little bed, and by the bed stands a table, and on the table stands a lamp. And from the throne emerge paved roads[13] and the roads are walled and the roads go out from the throne to all sides [zaytin[14]; see above[9] where it is spelled with a tzaddi], and no man knows whatsoever what it is, the matter of the throne with these roads. And these roads, when they go out and extend for some piece [i.e. distance] — a golden lion is standing there. And if some man should go to it, it will open its mouth and swallow him down. And beyond this lion the road extends even further, and likewise with the rest of the roads that go out from the throne. That is, with another road that goes out from the throne to another side it is also like that: when the road extends away a piece, a different animal is standing there, namely a leopard [Yid. lempert, Heb. lavi' lion] of ironwork. And there too one cannot go to it (as before, because it will swallow him down). And beyond the leopard the road extends further, and so it is with the rest of the roads. And these selfsame roads extend and go throughout the entire land, and no man whatsoever knows what is the thing of the throne with all these things and the roads. Therefore you shall be tested with this, whether you will be able to know the matter of the throne with all these things."

They showed him the throne and he saw that it was very high, etc. He went to the throne, took a look and understood that the throne was made of the little box's wood (that is, the instrument that the man of the forest had given him). He looked some more and he saw the throne is lacking some little rose at the top [rayzile, Heb. shoshanah], and if the throne would have this rose the throne would have the power of the little box (that is, the aforementioned instrument which had the power that when one would lay the instrument on some beast or animal it began to play, as mentioned). He looked some more and he saw that this rose which is missing at the top of the throne, this rose is lying at the bottom in the throne. One needs to take the little rose out from below and seat it above and thus the throne will have the power of the little box. For the king who had been[10] had done everything with wisdom and had disguised everything in order that no one should understand the matter — what it means — until there would come such an extraordinarily great sage who would surmise and would be able to hit upon interchanging everything and arranging all the things as needed.

And so too the little bed: he understood that one needs to move it a bit away and back from the place where it's standing. And also the table: one also needs [to move it] a bit away and back from [its] place; and one also needs the lamp a bit away and back from its place. And so too the birds and animals: one also needs to relocate them all; one should take this bird from this place and put it on that place. And thus with everything; one must reposition everything. For the king had purposely disguised everything cleverly in order that no one should know what is meant, until there would come the wise man who would be able to understand he should arrange everything properly.

And so too the lion that stands there, where that road goes out: one needs to put it yonder. And likewise all of them; one needs to relocate all of them. He ordered that they should arrange everything as needed: they should take out the little rose from below and seat it above, and likewise all the things — they should reposition all things and arrange them differently (as needed; in the way he called for).

As soon as they did so, they all began playing the exquisite melody that is quite a wild novelty, and they all did what they needed to do. So they gave him the kingship (that is, the true king's son who demonstrated all the clever things, as above). He spoke up and said to the [actual] bondmaid's son: "Now I understand that I am indeed the real son of the king and you are really the bondmaid's son."

[Notes Following the Story][edit]

Translator's note: "Y" indicates notes that appear after the Yiddish text, "H" indicates notes that appear after the Hebrew text, and "YH" indicates notes found in both.

H: (These too are the words of Rabbeinu n"y [nero ya'ir, "let his light shine"]; after he told this story he spoke up and said these words:)

Y: In former generations when they would discuss kabbalah it would be talked about in such language (as this story is). H: For until Rashbi they would not discuss kabbalah openly; only Rashbi disclosed kabbalah openly; and before, when the friends would speak kabbalah they would speak in such language: "When they placed the ark upon the oxen they began singing."[15] Now understand this.

H: For there are new states of the moon, when the moon receives innovations from the sun, and this is the aspect of when they bring the Ark to Beith Shemesh [lit. "House of the Sun," I Sam. 6], and then all the creatures bearing the Throne make a new melody, the aspect of "Mizmor shiru laShem shir chadash/ A Song: Sing to Hashem a new song," which is the song that the cows of Bashan sang. And this is the aspect of: bed, table, chair and lamp; they are the restoration of the Shekhinah. And the aspect of the garden: for Adam haRishon was driven out of the Garden, and Shabbath guarded over him, as is brought [in the books of kabbalah]. And Shabbath is the aspect of "the king unto whom peace belongs," the aspect of the aforementioned man, who is the king during whose days there was peace; and therefore he stationed himself by Shabbath. And the rest he did not explain.

H: (He spoke up and said after telling this story, in these words:) YH: This story is a big wonder, and it's entirely one: the herds etc., the throne etc. and the garden; it's all one. At times it (the aspect hinted to in the story) is called by this name, at times by this name; H: all according to the inyan/ interest and the aspect.

H: And the things are very, very deep, wondrous and awesome. (These too are the words of Rabbeinu n"y.) And there is more, but there is no need to reveal everything. There is also that the king that was in that land did something corresponding to the sun and something corresponding to the moon (that is, that these things alluded to the sun and the moon), and the moon was holding a lamp in its hand, and when the day arrives then the lamp does not shine, for "shraga betihara/ a lamp at midday"[16] etc. [is superfluous]. And this is that the night said to the day, "Why is it that when you arrive I have no name?" (as expressed above), for in the day a lamp does not avail whatsoever.

YH: The explanation of the story is like the throne which the king made, as mentioned, as the main wisdom is that one needs to know how to order the things; therefore whoever is adept in the books and his heart is whole can understand the explanation; however, the things have to be ordered well, for sometimes it is called this and sometimes it is called that, and likewise with the rest of the things, that is, with the explanation of the story, sometimes the man of the above story is called by this name, and sometimes by a different name, and similarly with the rest of the things. Fortunate is he who will be privileged to understand these things to their truth. Y: All this he himself a"h said after the story. H: Barukh Hashem le`olam, amen ve'amen/ Blessed be Hashem forever, Amen and Amen. (These are entirely Rabbeinu haKadosh's words, a"h ztz"l.)


  1. groisser beryeh
  2. `eved, bondservant; "slave;" the bondmaid's husband
  3. la`akor, here meaning to leave one's homeland
  4. 4.0 4.1 a Talmudic expression introducing more than one alternative
  5. Pl. Behemoth, sing. behemah. In essence behemah means "dumb beast" but behemoth usually denotes "cattle" (large or small, e.g. cows or sheep); in other words, quadruped domestic animals, especially of a horned species. Figuratively, behemah denotes a beast as opposed to man. Since it is clear in this story that the behemoth here are symbolic of a person's animalistic desires, and no English word can convey all these meanings, we leave it untranslated here.
  6. Pl. chayoth, sing. chayah. This is the most common general term for "animals" so it could be translated as "animals" or "beasts." In Hebrew, however, chayoth does not usually denote livestock, birds, fish or insects; indeed, sometimes the author refers to chayoth and birds together, as complements, indicating that chayoth in such contexts refers to land animals. In this first occurrence the "chayoth" seem to be wild beasts of the forest; but generally, domestic animals which are not livestock, such as dogs, cats, gerbils, etc. can also be called chayoth. Thus we render it "beasts" or leave it untranslated.
  7. 7.0 7.1 an Aramaic/Talmudic expression
  8. keli, not necessarily a "musical instrument" per se. Keli is synonymous with "tool" or "device" and a musical instrument is a keli-zemer.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tsayt with a tzaddi — an unusual spelling for "side" which is usually zayt as per Ger. Seite. Translator's note: there is a hint here.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Yid. der melekh vas er iz given, Heb. hamelekh shehayah
  11. Se iz dart given oysgemalt a mensh. It appears from the context that the depiction is a statue, but it also could also be a two-dimensional picture.
  12. me zal im arayn shtelin inveynik in der gartin arayn; veya`amidu oto lifnim betokh hagan hazeh: both phrasings have extra expressions for "inside"
  13. gishlagineh vegin, lit. "beaten paths"
  14. Zaytin here is spelled normally, with a zayin. Heb. is still tzad.
  15. כשהניחו הארון על הפרות התחילו לשורר
  16. Shab. 63a