of the farmer who became elevated
Once there was a poor farmer who merited to do a good deed for the King. (He rescued some of the King’s property from the hands of the King’s enemies.) The King called the farmer to him, and asked him: seeing that you did me this good deed, I want to reward you. Ask me for what you desire and I will do for you.
The farmer said: My only desire is to serve the King. But as I am poor and cannot support my family, if it would please the King that he loan me $10,000 that I can set myself up in business. And in five years I will begin to pay back the King; $100 a month until the debt is paid.
The King said: because you are humble and only ask a loan, therefore, this I will do for you: Here, take $1,000,000 to prosper your business. And, yet, fulfill your word: in five years begin to pay me back a loan of $10,000 (of the one million dollars, $10,000 was a loan), $100 a month, until it is paid off.
The happy farmer set up with his million dollars and built his business and flourished.
However, after a few years of great success, he began to fall, until he had lost almost all. He returned to farming in order to support his family.
At the end of five years the King’s messengers came to him to collect the first $100. He paid, but was angry. Why is he asking from me money? He doesn’t know I have nothing? That I gained nothing from his gift?! He needs my money? (He is a King and I am a poor farmer!) What about that I saved his property, that once!? And only asked from him a loan! Doesn’t he remember my goodness to him; and that I could have asked from him much more!?
His friend said to him: why are you angry? He could have asked you to pay back the entire million. For none of it is yours. It is all his. He only asks you to pay that which came from your own mouth.
Once there was a king who conquered many countries and was not afraid of any man, since he was king. And even though there were also many other kings, still he did not fear, for he feared Hashem, alone.
His people were quiet and faithful to him for he brought them great wealth and their kingdom was feared and extolled in all the world. Nevertheless they feared that their king would die, and with him their dominance, therefore they settled amongst themselves to set up courts to search out strategies to maintain their prominence even if their king would fall.
The king had no children and he beseeched Hashem constantly for a son worthy to succeed him, for he looked at his ministers and even amongst them could not find one which he trusted could lead his kingdom in fear of Hashem; therefore he requested from Hashem always that he would merit a son after his heart.
The ministers of the king saw that their beloved king was aging and still he had no son, and they, too, began to search out ways to continue the kingdom in success without the king, and they joined forces with those who had established courts to manage the kingdom according to their wisdom, to replace the king when he would fall.
These forces became organized and powerful in their efforts and the previous unsullied success of the king in his wars and in his trading with the other kingdoms began to wane. Now, sometimes he would lose a battle, and unexpected tragedies began to befall his enterprises, until the economy of the empire became unstable and uncertain.
Those who had sought a separate order from the king increased in their efforts ever more, for now they saw, not only that they were needed after the king passed, even now they were needed to supervise matters, as the king had lost his favor in the eyes of Heaven.
The king, who was wise, and feared Heaven, decided in his heart that he must relinquish his authority and seek to finish his life as a simple man; for even though he was king, the heart of the people had begun to question and his word no longer found fully faithful ears. The nation supported those who had sought to raise a government for they were many and organized and full of knowledge of the world.
Thus the king, one night, slipped away from his palace and sought to exile himself to any place, or in any way, that he would not be known.
When it was discovered, soon after, that the king was no longer in his place, there was, of course, great shock and surprise and confusion amongst the ministers and amongst the people, and many searches were made, but the king was not found. Nevertheless, in time, the searching stopped and hearts settled and the matter of the king was more or less forgotten; for he no longer was. All felt fortunate that there was already formed a government to replace him. The people praised one another for their wisdom and foresight saying: “What is it that we should rely upon a king? For see, here he isn’t, and we alone can govern ourselves.”
The king thought to pass himself off as a simple person and live amongst the people without drawing attention to himself. As only his closest ministers knew his face and the rest of the world had never seen his face, therefore it was not hard for him to dress himself as a simpleton and settle freely in a small town not far from the palace and be unnoticed. He rented himself a small apartment and thought to spend his days in study and tefilla and live from the money he had brought with him. He trusted fully in Hashem that there was nothing for him to do but this, for he saw that his role as a king was no longer valued.
Thus he thought to spend the rest of his life in peace; in study and in prayer, and thus he did and was very happy.
The king’s peaceful life was disturbed suddenly one day when thieves broke into his apartment, stealing all his money. The king pondered his situation: he had never learned a trade, as he was a king. Although he knew masterfully how to rule a kingdom and could, without effort, manage large enterprises, yet it was imperative that he remain unknown. He could not begin anything of his own for he had no money, and to approach any other was impossible without risking being revealed for who he was. He decided that there was nothing for him to do but to beg a living, as beggars do; thus he could remain anonymous and also continue his study and prayer and his life as he wished.
He began to beg and found that with a few hours of this each day he could spend the rest of his day as he wished, as before, in tefilla to Hashem and in Torah study. Thus he was still very happy. He said to himself: “What else is life for; what else do I need? For me, I am fine.”
Sometimes the king found it difficult to contain himself and not express his feelings, for he saw many things happening about him that disturbed him, and often he was treated rudely and was received impatiently by the people from whom he begged a living. But each time he told himself: “ I have no choice but to remain silent, for I am king, but I mustn’t draw any notice.” So he learned to swallow his bitterness; and besides, there were many who treated him kindly and compassionately, and there was much good to see always; thus his bitterness was dissolved.
As time passed, the new government, which for years had attracted the fascination of the people and lifted their hearts with promises of ‘the new order’ found that it could not maintain a successful economy. Also many foreign kingdoms began to strengthen , reconquering their lands. As the new government had not found a general to lead the armies as the king had done, it turned a friendly face to the world, desiring only peace; only to trade and prosper mutually with the world. But as the economy wobbled and other nations rose to usurp power, the empire weakened and the people’s hearts grew sad. They even remembered the days of peace and prosperity with their king and had regrets that they had shifted their trust so willingly; yet, what could be done, the king was no more; they had no choice but to make the best with the new order.
As the nation’s face darkened, the king’s plight became more manifest. The happy generosity he had witnessed at first was now supplanted by empty faces and movements, saying: “what do you want from me; I also have no money?!”
Mostly the king found himself overlooked.
He was forced now to collect many more hours each day and little time was left for Torah and tefilla. At first he was sad about this but then he realized he was sad mostly because of the poverty of the people. If he could receive a smile from someone this could enliven him for most of the day, but the poverty of the people worsened and they knew no advice to uplift themselves.
The king, at this time, decided to gather a few students around him to teach them some Torah as there was no choice but to try to lift up some students. He managed to keep their attention only towards the learning, and firmly avoided all questions as to who was their teacher. “If you like what I say, then learn from me,” he would say. “It doesn’t matter who I am.” Thus the king managed to gladden his own heart from the light of the Torah from the students.
At this time, the factions came to be.
One faction maintained that the remedy for the nation’s ills lies primarily in strengthening the army and maintaining firm borders; that is, not to lose any more land. “For the nation is the land and the land is the nation; because we lose our land, we lose our hearts, and without the happiness of our hearts the whole body is ill. One who loses his hands, his feet; is he not mortally sad? Therefore we must put all of our efforts and money into the army that our borders not recede further.”
A second faction came to be who laughed at these people, calling them ignoramuses. They said: “the land is not the people, the minds are the people. Are we like animals who must wrestle for our existence? We must, rather, put all of our forces into building up our great universities and becoming wise in all human wisdom. In this way, the other nations will not only return our lands to us, furthermore, they will flock to us in great hoards in order to learn from us. We will rule the earth with our wisdom and all will seek to be attached to us and to serve us.”
A third faction declared: “Not this and not this; not the limbs and not the mind. For if the heart does not pump blood there is no life in the limbs and no strength in the mind. Though we need a strong army and we need much wisdom, nevertheless, the real emphasis must be in gladdening our hearts; only from this will flow health to the whole body. Therefore, we must encourage all to develop their talents in the arts; in music, in dance, in theater, in architecture, in all crafts. We must beautify our cities and fill them with parks and divert rivers into streams and run them through our towns and connect our towns one to another with thoroughfares so that we can travel and experience the richness and variety of all our life throughout our great empire.”
Another faction snickered at these, saying: “Very fine, all this talk. But if a man cannot walk how will he eat? If a nation has no workers how will there be food? Firstly, we must clothe our people with jobs. We must end poverty; build factories and develop every trade so that all will happily work from day till night. All will have food on the table; all will pay their bills and all will cover their health expenses. All will have money to educate their children. Only this direction can bring well-being.”
Then there rose a faction who said: “All of your ideas! What we need is to be respected for who we are, now, as we are; without implementing changes. Everything is set up just fine. It is simply the way of the world; good times are followed by bad times, and then good times come again. The main thing is to enjoy life as it is and not to labor in vain; just to respect and love one another for who and what we already are, and let life be.”
Another faction rose and shook their heads at all this, etc. And there were many other factions.
The king observed all this; how the kingdom had become split into many differing ways and that there was no unity and harmony amongst the people, and that every one was trying to align himself with one faction or another. The king now found it hard to be out amongst the people, for he did not hear a word that did not contain some epikorsus.
The king decided to no longer go out and beg a living; rather to wait upon Hashem’s miracles. If he would live, fine, and if not, fine; whatever it would be that Hashem, Yisborach, would wish, that would be; but he could no longer bear to hear the epikorsus. This is what he prayed to Hashem: ”If you want me to live, fine; if not, fine. Just, please, let me not hear and see the ways of the wayward.”
Thus the king lived like this for quite some while, relying upon the miracles that Hashem Yisborach wrought for him each day.
After this had gone on for quite a while the King said to himself: What am I living for? If for myself, it’s fine that I put myself in Hashem’s hands and say: “if You want me to live fine, and if not, no”. But I am a king. And even that my people don’t recognize me, still I am their king. If for myself, it doesn’t matter whether I live or not, but for the people I cetainly must live; certainly I must be their king again, for there is no answer for them except this. Therefore my question is not whether to live or not, but rather how do I bring the people to recognize the king they need? How can I see that the people turn their hearts only to Hashem?
Thus the king began to beseech Hashem all the time? What is it that I can do to bring the people to see the truth, to see their only salvation? What will make them realize that that they have turned themselves from the source of life and wander aimlessly, lost in their fabrications? Look at your people Hashem Yisborach!
Thus he beseeched:
Sole Master! Answer, Hashem, please, and reveal your Glory to those who dwell below. Because this is your essential will, to dwell amongst us. And if we are not worthy, answer, You, from Yourself, awaken us to return to you, and hear our cries even if they are only from our pain; for this is your way.
as it is written: And Yisrael sighed in anguish from the labor and cried out and their pleas went up to g-d from their labor. And G-d heard the screams and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, with Yitzhak, and with Ya’akov.
and it is written : and we shouted to Hashem, G-d of our forefathers and Hashem heard our voice and saw our affliction and our travail and our distress.
Hazal have told us that Yisrael will make tsheuvah in the end. As the Rambam, z”l writes:
(perek zayin m’hilchos tsheuvah, halacha heh) “Yisrael will not be redeemed except through tsheuvah. The Torah has already promised that in the end Yisrael will make tsheuvah at the end of their galus and they will immediately be redeemed.”
May we merit this, quickly, in our days. Amen.