How To Win A Jewish Princess
By Allen S. Maller
Once upon a time a young man was walking in a forest when he heard a bird singing a Jewish melody. Curious, he walked toward the sound until he found the bird. The bird said to him, “I am a Jewish princess who has been enchanted by an evil witch. If you free me from her spell I will marry you.”
The boy had always dreamed of marring a Jewish princess so he eagerly said, “I am ready to fight evil witches or even dragons to set you free”
“It is not so hard,” said the bird, “all you have to do is go to a castle deep in the forest. At 11 in the evening I will fly to the window and if you feed me one crumb I will be free of the spell and become your princess. But you must have self-restraint. They will offer you delicious food and lots of drinks. You must refuse to eat or drink what they offer you, for if you eat or drink you will feel tired and fall asleep. If you are asleep when I fly by you cannot help me. I can only fly by twice in a year.”
The boy agreed to do it. He went to the castle. When they offered him all kinds of delicious foods he turned them down. When they offered him all kinds of drinks he said no. But after a few hours he thought that just a little wouldn’t hurt. Then he had a little more. When the bird flew by the window he was fast asleep.
When he awoke it was morning. He realized that he had failed to rescue the princess due to his lack of self-restraint. He vowed that he wouldn’t fail again. The next day he refused to eat or drink till almost 10 o’clock. But by then he was very hungry and thirsty. He thought that just one glass and just one dish couldn’t hurt. It would keep up his strength. It would get rid of his headache. He would have just one and no more.
When the bird flew by at 11 o’clock the boy was asleep. She cried many tears. Then she left him a note that she could not come back for one year. She begged him to study Torah so he would learn the importance of self-restraint and self-control and would then be able to transform her into his princess.
When the boy awoke in the morning he realized that he had failed again to help the Jewish princess. He was very angry with himself. Then he found the note the princess had written to him. He was puzzled. How could the study of Torah help him win the Jewish princess? He wasn’t even Jewish.
He went to a Rabbi and asked him what to do. The Rabbi told him he could study Torah even if he was not Jewish. Torah study helps anyone to gain wisdom and self-restraint. The boy studied with the Rabbi for many months. He decided he wanted to become Jewish. Even after he became Jewish he continued to study Torah. He also did many Mitzvot in the Synagogue and for the people in the community. He celebrated every Shabbat and all the Holy days. He learned to think more about others and less about himself. When a whole year had passed he went back to the castle.
Again he was offered delicious foods and tempting drinks. This time he remembered how he had not eaten any bread, cake or pizza all the days of Passover and how he had fasted all day on Yom Kippur. He knew that he had the will power to go without food or drink for 24 hours. All day he refused to eat or drink.
When he was tempted to eat or drink just a little bit, he began to say the Sh’ma. That helped him resist temptation. Then he sang Hebrew songs to himself. That helped the time go by.
When the bird flew by at 11 o’clock he was wide-awake singing Adon Olam. As soon as he saw the bird fly to the windowsill he fed her some crumbs of challah and she was transformed into a Jewish princess.
After many months of getting to know each other they decided to get married. After all he had transformed her into a Jewish princess; while she and Torah study had transformed him into a Jewish prince. They lived happily ever after and always taught their children the importance of Torah study and self-control.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT:
Have you ever not been able to do what you should have done because you don’t have self-control? How can people strengthen their self-control?
Most adults have trouble dieting or exercising regularly. Are Mitzvot spiritual exercises? How are they similar or different from physical exercises?
Are most people who convert to Judaism seeking spiritual discipline, or strong community, or rich tradition, or freedom from dogma, or all of these things?
from the October 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine