6 Tishrei 5781 / Thursday, September 24, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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The King and the Debtor    

The King and the Debtor

The debtor lost all the money he borrowed from the king in a highly unsuccessful business venture. He had nothing to repay the king. But, the king gave him a fantastic offer...


Rebbe Nachman of Breslev once said to his closest followers and students, "I know that you are 'kosher Jews'[1]; but, my hope for you is that you should be much more." Rabbenu Nachman intended that we should live our prayers, not just view them as a daily obligation to fulfill. And more than that, he wasn't satisfied if we had strong emuna. He wanted us to make every effort to spread emuna far and wide. No wonder Rebbe Natan devoted his whole life to spreading Rebbe Nachman's teachings, all of which revolve around emuna.


In order to show us the importance of emuna outreach, Rebbe Nachman tells a parable about an enormously wealthy king and a debtor[2]:


There was once a fabulously wealthy king whose opulence was far beyond anyone's estimation. He enabled anyone in need to come to him and borrow whatever sum they required. Throngs of people in the kingdom took advantage of the king's offer; the king turned no one down and lent every individual whatever sum they sought. Every loan was recorded in detail in the king's ledger, together with the borrower's signature attesting to the fact that he received the money.


Once, while happening to inspect the ledger, the king noticed that he had distributed tremendous sums of money in loans. But to his dismay, not a single person had come forth to repay their debts. Understandably, the king was irritated.


Among those who had borrowed money was a merchant who had invested in a most unsuccessful commercial venture. He was rendered penniless, with nothing to eat much less any money with which to repay the debt. The fact that he owed the king money caused him sleepless nights. He decided that honesty is the best policy, and he'd go to the palace and explain his situation to the king. The debtor arrived at the palace and began apologizing to the king for his tardiness in paying back the loan, telling the king in detail about the failed business venture.


"Why should I care about the money you owe me?" replied the king. "Do you think that the few thousands you owe me is a drop in the sea compared to the tens of millions everyone in the kingdom has borrowed from me?" The king then made a proposal to the penniless debtor. "Here, make a copy of my ledger. Go to all the people who borrowed from me and ask them for the money. Remind them how much they owe me and ask them why they don't repay their debts or at least come forth to settle with me. Even if they don't pay everything, if each one would just pay back a small part of his debt, that alone would come to thousands of times more than the entire sum you owe me."


* * *


The king of course is Hashem. Each one of us is the poor debtor, for our transgressions are like unpaid debts to the King, for in Hebrew the word chayav means both guilty and one who owes something. Most of us "owe" the King for minor transgressions, yet there are billions of people in the world who owe the King massive sums, for they have no emuna and therefore have accumulated tremendous spiritual debts. By spreading emuna, we bring others close to Hashem to an extent that is many times greater than our own individual efforts in Torah and teshuva. This is the power of emuna outreach.


There is no loftier endeavor in the world today than spreading emuna, for the full and peaceful redemption of our people depends on this. Teach others emuna. If you can't, then distribute emuna books and CDs; if that is difficult for you, then donate to our Emuna Outreach program and we'll do it for you. By doing so, one creates the best possible spiritual insurance policy to protect himself and his family, until it's time to come to our rebuilt holy city of Jerusalem and witness the coronation of Moshiach with your own two eyes, speedily and in our days, amen!


[1] Rebbe Nachman's expression for an impeccably upright individual

[2] Based on Chayei Moharan, 447


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