18 Nissan 5779 / Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: Acharei Mot
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The Newspaper Boy    

The Newspaper Boy

The newspaper boy had the privilege of personally handing the paper to the king every morning; when he did so, he would thank the king profusely for all that he has…


There was once a newspaper boy whose delivery route covered all of the residents of the capital city of his country, including the king.  Every morning, as the boy delivered the paper to the castle, the king would be taking his morning stroll.  The newspaper boy had the privilege of personally handing the paper to the king; when he did so, he would thank the king profusely for all that he has: “Thank you, great king!  I have the most wonderful school system and teachers and friends and it is all thanks to you, our king, who runs this country so beautifully.”  This ritual took place every morning.


The boy’s father was a potato farmer whose main competitor was a high minister in the king’s court. The minister saw the boy’s father as a thorn in his side and wanted him out of the way. The minister conjured a conspiracy accusing the father of organizing a rebellion against the king. On the basis of the minister’s word, the father was summarily thrown into prison. The boy’s father called on his best friend, another high minister in the king’s court, to approach the king, prove his innocence and explain that the accusation was a terrible blood libel.  The father’s friend tried to arrange for an appointment with the king, but his request was denied.  The country was currently under the threat of an impending large-scale war and the king was much too busy to deal with the potato farmer’s case.


The potato farmer then summoned another friend, a prominent the lawyer, who played golf with the king.  The lawyer tried to arrange an appointment for a golf game as an excuse to plead the father’s case, but the lawyer’s request was denied.


Then the next morning, when the boy came to deliver the newspaper, he did not smile and thank the king. “What’s the matter?” asked the king “Why are you not thanking me as you always do?”


“My father has been imprisoned and so I cannot be cheerful this morning!” cried the boy.  


“What?!”  asked the king. “But I love how you thank me every morning for all that I do for you. And if this is making you sad, I will release your father at once!” said the king.


The potato farmer, elated by his release, organized a huge thank you party. When his friend the high minister arrived he asked the father: “Who do you know at the castle who is closer to the king than I am? Who organized your release?”


“It was my young son!” said the potato farmer.


The minister did not believe the father, thinking that he was just trying to keep to himself a valuable connection at the king’s court. When the father’s lawyer friend arrived, he too wanted to know how the father arranged for his case to be pleaded before the king. Once again, the father explained that it was his young boy. The lawyer likewise did not believe him.


Then his majesty the king himself arrived at the party, and upon seeing the young boy he smiled and said, “Are you happy now?”  The young boy was so thankful to the king and could not stop praising him.


The minister and the lawyer approached the king, wanting to know why he answered the boy’s request. “I have a very special relationship with this boy,” said the king. “Every morning when he delivers the paper, he praises me and thanks me for all that he has. Now that he needed something, I wanted to help him. All these years the boy gave praise by thanking me and never asking me for a thing. You, gentlemen, only come to me when you want something from me. The praise that you give me is only for the purpose of taking instead of giving.”


* * *


Hashem our King and loving Father wants a relationship with all of His children.  There is nothing that He loves more than for His children to get up every morning and say, Modeh Ani - “thank you Father” for another day of life so that I can serve You. We then continue with the morning blessings, thanking Hashem for our Torah, eyes, our clothes and so on.  Our Sages, of blessed memory, instituted these “thank you” prayers right as we get up in the morning to form a special relationship with Hashem.  After we have done that, we can ask Hashem for anything we want.

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