Written by: Alan Avitan
There once lived a king whose power was great and whose kingdom was vast. This particular king had an incredible thirst for knowledge and one day he ordered his greatest knights to his chambers. The king devised a challenge that he presented to his knights. The king explained that each knight will be sent to one corner of the earth in search of knowledge without equal and the knight whose knowledge shines greatest in the king’s eyes will be awarded viceroy of his kingdom. Each knight was sent out, one to the North, one to the East, one to the South, and one to the West.
A year went by and the knight from the North returned, and the king asked his knight what he had found. The knight returned to the kingdom empty handed and laid nothing in front of the king. The knight from the West returned, and the king asked his knight what he had found. The knight brought back an ancient book whose age was without equal, which he laid out for the king. The king, after going through it was pleased with his knight. The Knight from the South returned, and the king asked his knight what he had found. The knight laid in front of the king a pile of books, so vast it could take someone a hundred life times to finish and the king was pleased. Ten years went by and the last knight still had not returned and the king proclaimed the knight of the South the winner of his competition and awarded him viceroy over his kingdom.
Soon after the knight from the East returned to the kingdom. The king who had given up hope of his knight’s return asked him if he was successful in his quest. The knight from the East laid out in front of the king a disheveled piece of parchment with faded letters and ripped edges. When the king went to pick it up and it felt like burnt toast in the king’s hand as he read the four lonely words that existed on the parchment. The four words that were written on the parchment read, “This Too Shall Pass”. The king quickly demanded an explanation.
The knight stepped forward and explained to the king, “our king, as humans our lives are filled with ups and downs, and sometimes are lives seem a mess, sometimes we’ve hit rock bottom, the light around us seems covered in darkness, but your majesty nothing lasts forever, even moments of complete misery eventually pass, it just takes time before brighter moments appears before us. When we know that what we’re experiencing isn’t a moment that lasts forever we can understand how meaningless our dwelling and attachment to those moments really are. At the same time moments of complete joy, times of peace and happiness can also quickly fade away, but if we’re aware that soon those moments will also pass we’ll be able to not take what we have in those moments for granted.
And we can see from this a great message that we can connect to the Torah. Not to many parsha’s ago the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt and many gave up hope of a brighter future and dwelled on the moment in front of them, but it was the ones who never gave up and who stayed true to themselves that were able to be part of Matan Torah and were able to come face to face with Hashem.
The king smiled and acknowledged the success of his knight and proceeded to proclaim the knight from the East winner of his challenge and declared him viceroy of his kingdom.
Alan is an alumnus of Central East NCSY and is a current West Coast NCSY advisor.