A Lesson For the Children – In a faraway land, there lived a King named Thomas. Among his many advisors and assistants he especially loved Yochanan, his wise Jewish advisor. But as far as the king was concerned, Yochanan had one “fault” – his belief in G-d. For example, whenever something bad happened Yochanan would say, “Everything is for the best,” and he would try to convince the king that something good would result. Thomas used to get very angry at this approach, and he would see it as an upsetting challenge.
One day, King Thomas went out to hunt. As was his custom, he took along with him his trusted advisor Yochanan and the other members of the royal court. They saw a beautiful fox from far away, and the king sent his horse into a fast gallop in an attempt to catch the fox. Galloping away, the king and his horse left the rest of the people behind. In his hurry, the king did not notice a low branch that stretched across the path. The horse continued its fast gallop, only stopping after the king yelled out in pain when the branch scratched his arm. The king’s arm hurt very badly, and a lot of blood gushed from the wound. Yochanan took care of the king and bandaged his hand, all the while trying to calm his with his usual motto: “Don’t worry – everything is for the best.” When the king heard this, he became very angry. “Not only did I miss catching the fox, I was also badly hurt, my royal physician has disappeared in the woods, and you still tell me that this is for the best? This is highly impertinent!” The king did not think twice. He threw Yochanan into a large nearby pit and marched back towards the palace, in despair and very upset.
While the king was walking along the path, he suddenly heard a battle cry. A group of wild men surrounded the king. He did not have the strength to resist. Within a few seconds, the king was tied up and sitting on one of their horses, and the group began a wild and frightening war dance around him. The band took him to their village, and in his fright the king saw that he was being taken straight to a large gathering in the town square. It turned out that this was a holiday for this wild tribe, and the well dressed man that they had found on the path seemed to them a perfect choice for the sacrifice that they wanted to make that day on the altar to their gods. The altar was ready, the flames were burning high, and the only thing left to do was to prepare the human sacrifice for slaughter.
But then a miracle happened. When the wild men began to prepare their sacrifice they removed his cloak and discovered his injured arm. They were startled and immediately stopped what they were doing. They said to each other: “No, no. The gods do not want such a sacrifice. It must be perfect and unharmed, but this man is not suitable.” So they turned to their proposed sacrifice and said, “Get out of here! You cannot be our sacrifice if you are not completely healthy! Take your things and go away from our village!”
The frightened king did not hesitate for a second. He ran into the forest without wasting an instant. And echoing in his mind he heard the motto of his advisor: “Everything is for the best!” And all he could think of was, “Yes, Yochanan was right. If I had not been injured, I would no longer be alive! The words of my unfortunate advisor are right, but I went and threw him into a pit! I will go and take him out, and I will also apologize. I will also add to his great wealth, as a prize for his wisdom and for the pain I caused him.”
But when Yochanan was taken out of the pit, he said, “You do not have to apologize, everything is for the best! It is very good that you threw me into the pit, your royal highness! If you hadn’t done so, the wild men would have caught me too. And if they had seen your injured arm, who would they take as a sacrifice if not me? Thank G-d I was trapped inside the pit and I was therefore saved from the cruel fate that these evil men had planned! You see, my king, everything is for the best!”
E-mail for comments and story suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute (www.zomet.org.il). Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Goldberg. To subscribe to receive the complete version of Shabbat BeShabbato please write to email@example.com.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.