“Open for Me, My sister My beloved…” (Song of Songs 5:2)
“Said the Holy One, Blessed be He to Israel; My children, open for Me an opening of repentance like the eye of a needle, and I will open for you enormous doorways…” (Midrash)
“The eye of a needle is indeed small – but it penetrates through and through” (Kotzker Rebbe)
The Crown Prince was misbehaving. Actually, misbehaving is too mild a word. He was hanging out with the worst characters, he was spending time in the worst places and he was doing things that a Crown Prince shouldn’t even be thinking about. In short, things were terrible. His father, the King, had no choice but to banish his son from the palace.
The exiled prince continued in his rebellious ways. He wandered from one tavern to the next, he roamed from one province to the next until he found himself at the far reaches of the kingdom. Eventually, he settled down in a remote village, as far from the palace as possible. This village was located near a coal-mine, and the people of this village made a livelihood out of mining and selling coal. The Crown Prince, whose funds had long run out, found himself in the coal-mines together with the villagers. He had to eat, and in this village, this was the only source of income.
The days and the years passed. The Crown Prince remembered his father’s house and thoughts of regret began filling his heart. He thought of his lowly situation and he thought of the shame that he had brought upon the kingdom, but most of all, he thought of the anguish that he had caused his father. But he didn’t know what he could do, how could he approach his father from this remote village?
Meanwhile, in the palace, the King was thinking of his son. Perhaps he learned his lesson? Perhaps he changed his ways? But where is he? How can I find him?
The king decided to take a comprehensive tour of his kingdom. Every city, every town and every last village will be honored with a visit from the King.
The news came to the coal-mining village – the King is coming! The Crown Prince was overjoyed! My father is coming! But as the Crown Prince stood amongst the small crowd of villagers that lined the village road, he came to a horrible realization. All of the villager’s faces were blackened with soot. He understood that his own face was no different than the faces of any of the villagers. All of them were covered with the dust from the coal-mine, and there was no way that his father would begin to recognize him. These were his thoughts as the King’s chariot came into sight, and while the villagers were cheering, the Crown Prince was crying. In his anguish he was hardly able to speak, but he managed one word: “Father!” The King turned to see where the cry came from, and he saw his son.
The tears streaking down his face had washed away just a bit of the dirt so that his true nature could shine through.
We are the sons of the Living God. But we are covered with dirt. All that our Father in Heaven wants from us is a bit of sincerity – that goes through and through – so that He could recognize in us the true colors of the Crown Prince.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal