In his spiritual masterpiece, The Seven Beggars, Rebbe Nachman's last story, The Lost Children, holds powerful truth for all who are lost and alone in this material world.
There was once an exodus from a certain country. We have endured so many exodus'! All the fled. As they were on their way out, they passed through a forest, and a boy and a girl got lost. They were still little children about the age of four or five. They had nothing to eat, and they cried and screamed because they were hungry and alone.
What were they hungry for? What were they fleeing? What are you hungry for? What are fleeing? One interpretation is that the boy was the son of a great nobleman while the girl was the daughter of servants. The boy did not know he was a prince and the girl did not know of her lowly heritage. Being lost and alone they had only each other. The stations in life meant nothing to one is lost.
Suddenly a beggar appeared with a bag of bread. The children approached him and began to follow him. He gave them bread, and they ate.
"How did you come to be here?" he asked.
"We don't know," they replied.
When he was about to leave, they asked him to take them with him. "But I don't want you to go with me," he said.
They noticed that he was blind and wondered how he was able to find his way through the path being blind. The fact that they wondered about this is itself unusual since they were only small children, but they were intelligent.
The beggar blessed them that they should be like him - that they should be elders like him - and then he left them some more bread and went on his way. The two children understood that God was watching over them and that He had sent them this blind beggar there in the forest to give them food.
As the story continues the children met a total of seven anointed beggars, each of whom grants them their own special blessings.
In time they started making their way to an inhabited area. They came to a road and followed it until they came to a village. The children went into one of the houses, and the people had pity on them and gave them bread. They went into another house, where the people also gave them bread. They went from door to door and saw that they were having success.
They decided to stay together always. They made big beggars' sacks for themselves and went from door to door and attended all the celebrations - circumcisions and weddings. They then decided to move on and went to the larger cities, where they went from door to door. They went to the fairs and sat with the other beggars on the pavement with their charity plates. In time the two children became well known to all the beggars as the children that were lost in the forest.
Once there was a great fair in a large city. The beggars journeyed there and the young pair went with them. It occurred to the beggars that they should make a match between the pair and have them marry. As soon as the beggars began discussing the idea they all thought it a very good idea and agreed on the match.
But how were they to make the wedding? Since the king's birthday banquet was to be held shortly, they decided that all the beggars should go, and from the meat and bread they would beg for themselves they would make the wedding. And so it was: all the beggars went to the king's birthday celebrations and begged for bread and meat. They also collected all the leftover meat and party rolls from the feast. They went and dug a great pit large enough to hold a hundred people. They covered it with reeds, earth, and dung, and all went inside. There they made the wedding for the two children. They brought them under the marriage canopy, and everyone was very happy.
There is so much to learn and embody from Rebbe Nachman's tale of the Lost Children! Consider: The neshama or soul may occupy the body of a royal or of a slave. To the Neshama such things are unimportant. As the Soul wanders through life it is the kindness of others that matters, and the return of that kindness. From one we receive one thing, and from another something else. And to all, we return blessings according to our abilities. Each one shares and receives that which is ordained by HaShem, both riches and poverty, both hard times and easy times. One who is wise accepts what he is given AND continues forward always. Life is a journey, a quest for meaning, for love, for peace, for the One who is the Beloved of our Souls.
As Jews, we conceive of this guest in many ways. We are those same Israelites who fled from slavery in Egypt to freedom! We are the Jews enslave ourselves by not realizing that the meaning of the Torah is freedom and liberation as the Children of G-d. But that takes a while, so many lifetimes. We look to others for guidance like these two children, and they bless us! However, we must never lose sight of the goal, our marriage with the Beloved as spiritual adults.
On our annual religious timeline, we are once again making our way through the desert hoping to reach Har Sinai, where we will find freedom. On Simchat Torah we will celebrate the Torah together. Know that we are all lost souls roaming through the forests of the Olam Hazeh like prodigal children. But one day we reach our destination, the Olam Haba! The end of the tunnel is in sight! Don't give up! Let's stand together! The Jew bends the knee only the HaShem!
May your journey be safe and productive.
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