It's been quite a while since I've shared one of my original parables with you. Here's one for the Rosh Hashana table:
A great and mighty king waited for years to become a father. His prayers were answered, and the queen presented him with a first-born son, heir to the throne.
How happy the king and queen were as their son grew in strength of body, soul and mind. At age 3, the prince knew the entire alphabet and at age 5, he read fluently. By age 10, the prince had already absorbed everything the palace tutors had to offer. The prince now studied with the kingdom's leading professors.
The prince was not only intelligent but strong as steel and agile as a gazelle. He could run with the wind and stay amount the wildest of steeds. Handsome and charismatic, everyone loved him.
When the prince turned ten years old, the king and queen were welcomed with a most unexpected morsel of good tidings - they were about to have a second child!
Having tasted the sweetness of parenthood from the raising their firstborn the crown prince, the king and queen eagerly anticipated the arrival of their second child. They pondered how joyous the palace would be with a new baby. They relived each exciting day of their firstborn's development - every new word, every new gesture and every new development. They now looked forward to reliving this joy with child number two.
But, life has its surprises.
The queen nearly died in childbirth. The baby - a second son - was born with his umbilical cord tied around his neck like a noose. The capable palace doctor saved the mother and child, but not before the bluish-hued baby's brain had been critically starving for oxygen.
The damage was done. The king and queen's second child was sorely brain damaged. He couldn't speak a word and he looked off into space as if he didn't hear or understand what was said to him either. When other toddlers were running already, he had barely learned to crawl. The king and queen loved their child, but they were beside themselves with grief because of his inability to communicate with them.
They day their second son turned six years old, a letter arrived at the palace. On the envelope was the wax seal of the Royal Bar Association. The crown prince, not yet seventeen years old, had become the youngest person in the kingdom's history to bass the difficult bar exam. All doors would now open to him and he'd be well on his way to becoming his father's most trusted minister and adviser.
Overjoyed, the king summoned the queen to share the good news of the crown prince's accomplishment with her. The queen entered the king's court with her younger son, who had recently learned to walk.
As the king shared the news with the queen, the six year-old suddenly looked up at his father sitting on the royal throne and said, "Tatty!" The astonished king and queen could believe their ears. Had their little boy really spoken?
The kings eyes welled up with tears. He got off the throne and kneeled in front of his younger son. "My son - did you really speak? Can you say that again?"
The little boy gazed into his father's eyes and said once more, "T-Tatty!"
Now, tears were streaming down the king and queen's faces. The letter from the Royal Bar Association had dropped out of their hands, now forgotten on the floor. This one word from their brain-damaged second son had overshadowed all the truly amazing accomplishments of the crown prince.
At the Rosh Hashana table, ask your family members for their respective interpretations of the parable.
Meanwhile, here are my intended moral of the story:
The king and queen are Hashem and the Shechina, the Divine Presence. The talented and successful crown prince represents the great tzaddikim of previous generation, from Moses to Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai to the holy Ariza'l, who were just as familiar with the upper spiritual realms as they were with the physical realm. The king and queen's brain-damaged second son represents us, the generation born into the fast lane of the promiscuous modern world with all its ensnarements, far removed from true holiness, spiritual awareness and Torah mentality.
Sure, previous generations knew entire tractates by heart when we have to tax our brains to understand a bit of Aramaic terminology in the Gemara.
Yet, when we call out to Hashem in personal prayer, yelling "Tatty" (Yiddish for "daddy"), we invoke a measure of Divine compassion that no one can fathom. That's also why we say the Avinu Malkenu Prayer - "Our Father, Our King" during the Ten Days of Repentance.
The way to mitigate harsh decrees and judgments is to call out "Tatty", to appeal to Hashem in personal prayer. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev promises Hashem drops everything He does to listen to those of His beloved children who turn to Him in personal prayer. Don't waste the opportunity!
May we all be signed and seled in the Book of Life for a wonderful New Year, amen!
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