Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Lost Princess by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov with Notes by Rabbi Norbert Weinberg

 The Lost Princess by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov


Notes by Rabbi Norbert Weinberg

For the live reading and discussion, go to:


Rebbe Nachman of Breslov( Bratslav). Great grandson of Besht, c end of 18th century. Kafka before Kafka, father of modern Hebrew before modern Hebrew.

In his short life, Rebbe Nachman achieved much acclaim as a teacher and spiritual leader, and is considered a seminal figure in the history of Hasidism. His contributions to Hasidic Judaism include the following:

·         He rejected the idea of hereditary Hasidic dynasties. . .. He believed that every Jew has the potential to become a tzaddik.[18]

·         He emphasized that a tzaddik should magnify the blessings on the community through his mitzvot. the Hasid should pray only to God, not to the Rebbe.

·          choose one personal mitzvah to be very strict about, and do the others with the normal amount of care.[19]

·         He encouraged his disciples to take every opportunity to increase holiness in themselves and their daily activities.

·         He urged everyone to seek out his own and others' good points in order to approach life in a state of continual happiness.. . .. And if he cannot find any good points, he should at least be happy that he is a Jew. This "good point" is God's doing, not his.

·         He placed great stress on living with faith, simplicity, and joy

·         He emphasized the importance of intellectual learning and Torah scholarship.

·         He frequently recited extemporaneous prayers. He taught that his followers should spend an hour alone each day, talking aloud to God in his or her own words, as if "talking to a good friend." This is in addition to the prayers in the siddur. Breslover Hasidim still follow this practice today, which is known as hitbodedut (literally, "to make oneself be in solitude"). Rebbe Nachman taught that the best place to do hitbodedut was in a field or forest, among the natural works of God's creation. Dvekus.

·         He emphasized importance of music for spiritual development and religious practice.[20]

 This is a text of his classic tale, The Lost Princess, in English paraphrase 


Book cover from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan translation
Book cover of Rabbi Aryeh Kapaln translation

From the Hebrew intorduction
Hebrew Introduction

On the way I told  a story that whoever heard it had a thought of teshuvah, return. And this is the story.

The Princess Is Lost

Once, there was a king. The king had six sons and one daughter. The daughter was very dear to him, and he would cherish her exceedingly and play with her very much.

One time, while he was together with her on a certain day he became angry with her and the words, "Let the not-good one take you away !" escaped from his mouth. At night she went to her room; in the morning no one knew where she was. Her father was very afflicted and went here and there looking for her. The viceroy  arose because he saw the king was very distressed, and asked to be given an attendant, a horse and money for expenses, and he went to search for her. He searched hard for her, for a very long time, until he found her.




 The Viceroy Seeks Her a Long Time, Until He Finds Her

He went a long time, in deserts, fields and forests, and was seeking her quite a long time. He was going around in desert area and saw a way from the side. . . He went for a long time.

Later on he saw a castle and many soldiers standing around it. The castle was very beautiful, with the soldiers standing around it in fine order. . .  He came to a palace and saw the king sitting there with a crown . . . it was very pleasant and beautiful there. . .  went and lay down in a corner to see what would be done there.

He saw that the king called for the queen to be brought. . . they placed a throne for her and seated her next to him. And she was the king's daughter, and  the viceroy saw her and recognized her. Later, the queen glanced and saw someone lying in a corner. She recognized him and rose from her throne, went to him, touched him and asked him, "Do you recognize me?" And he answered her, "Yes, I know you. You are the king's daughter who was lost."




The Advice of How She Can Be Taken Out; the Viceroy Does Not Endure

He asked her, "How is it that you've come here?" She answered him, "Because my father the king let the word escape (namely, that "the not-good shall take you"), and here, this is the place that is not good." He told her that her father was very distressed, and that he had been searching for many years. And he asked her, "How can I take you out?" She answered him, "You cannot take me out unless you choose for yourself a place and remain there for one year; and the entire year you must yearn for me, to take me out; and whenever you have free time you must only yearn, ask and hope expectantly to take me out, and you must fast. And on the last day of the year you must fast and you must not sleep the entire twenty-four hour period ." He went and did so, and at the end of the year on the last day he fasted and did not sleep, and he arose and went there (that is, to the king's daughter, to take her out). He saw a tree and on it were growing very beautiful apples, and it was very desirable to his eyes, and he went and ate from them. As soon as he ate the apple, he fell down and sleep overtook him, and he slept a very long time. His attendant tried to wake him, but he could not be awakened at all.



Later he awoke from his sleep and asked the attendant, "Where am I in the world?" He [the attendant] told him the whole story. "You have been sleeping a very long time. It is already several years. He found her ( the king's daughter. She lamented to him very much. "If you would have just come on that day you would have taken me out of here, and because of one day you lost. . . . In truth, not to eat is a very difficult thing, especially on the last day, when the evil inclination becomes very strong. . . . Therefore choose for yourself a place again, and also stay there a year, as before, and on the last day you will be permitted to eat — only, do not sleep, and do not drink wine so that you will not sleep, because the main thing is sleep." He went and did so.

On the last day he was going there, and he saw a running spring . . . And he went and tasted from the spring. He immediately fell down and slept many years, until seventy years. . . .there sat the king's daughter. She stood next to him, went down and sat next to him and recognized him. And she tried very much to wake him, but he could not be woken. She started to lament over him, that "so many, so many great efforts and toils you tortuously made these many, many years in order to take me out, and for one day, when you could have taken me out, you completely lost," and she cried very much about this. She said, "It is a great pity on you and on me, that I am here such a long time and cannot go out," etc. Afterwards she took the scarf off her head, and wrote on it with her tears and laid it down next to him, and stood up and sat in her carriage and rode away.




The Lament of the Princess; How She Can Yet Be Found

Afterwards he awoke . . .he glanced and noticed the scarf lying next to him. He asked, "Who is this from?" He answered him, "She left it behind and wrote on it with her tears." He took the scarf and raised it up against the sun and began to see the letters. He read what was written there: her lamentation and her cries, as mentioned; and (it was written there) that now, she is no longer in the castle; he should just search for a golden mountain and a pearl castle; "There, you will find me." . . .

Afterwards he noticed a very large man whose largeness was beyond human bounds and he was carrying a large tree, so large that in a settled area such a large tree would not exist, and he [the giant] asked him, "Who are you?" He answered him, "I am a man." He was amazed and said, "I have been in the wilderness such a long time now, and I have never seen a man." He told him the whole story mentioned above and that he's looking for a golden mountain and a pearl castle. He replied to him, "It certainly does not exist." And he dissuaded him and said to him, "They have convinced you with nonsense, because it certainly does not exist." . . ."With certainty it does exist, in some place. . . "In my opinion it is nonsense, but because you are so stubborn, look — I am the appointee over all the animals. I will act for your sake and summon all the animals. . . .They all replied that they had not seen. He said to him, "See, they have talked nonsense into you. . . "Look, I have a brother in the wilderness and he is the appointee over all the birds. Maybe they will know, since they fly high in the air. Maybe they have seen this mountain and the castle. Go to him, and tell him that I've sent you to him."


Children's edition, Hebrew

 He went many, many   years. . ..again found a very large man, as before, and he also carried a large tree and also questioned him as before. . . ."This certainly does not exist;" and the viceroy also disputed with him, "It certainly does exist!" He called up all the birds and asked all of them, from small to large. They answered him that they do not know of the mountain and the castle. He told him, "Don't you see it is certainly not here in the world. . . He told him, "Further in the wilderness is my brother; he is appointee over all the winds and they run over the whole world; perhaps they know."

He found the man and again,. . . Not one of them knew of the mountain and the castle. He said to him (the third man to the viceroy), "Don't you see that you have been told nonsense?" The viceroy began to cry very much and said, "I know it surely does exist!"

Just then, he saw that another wind had arrived. The appointee became angry with him. "Why have you so delayed in coming? Didn't I decree that all the winds should come? Why didn't you come with them?!" He answered him, "I was delayed because I had to carry a king's daughter to a golden mountain with a pearl castle." !. . .

The appointee over the winds replied to the viceroy, "Since it is such a long time that you have been searching for her, and you have spent so much effort, and perhaps you will now have a hindrance due to money, therefore I will give you a vessel, [such] that when you put your hand into it, you will get money from there." And he summoned the wind to carry him there. The storm wind came and carried him there and brought him to the gate, and standing there were soldiers who did not let him enter the city. He put his hand into the vessel and took out money and bribed them and went into the city. It was a beautiful city. And he went to a man of means and rented food and lodging for himself, for one must remain there, for one needs to see with wisdom and intellect in order to take her out. (And how he took her out, he did not tell.) (But) in the end, he took her out. Amen, Selah.


Children's Edition, English

The Tale of the  Lost Princess is easily adapted for children, as seen from the picture of children's versions.However, like so many stories, the childlike simplicity hides profound issues ( as in Gulliver's Travels or Alice in Wonderland). 

Here is what is hidden in the tale, the Kabbalistic imagery.

Who is the King?  Keter-Binah-Chochmah the three first sefirot( emanations) of the ein sof( the utterly infinite , utterly incomprehensible).

 Who is the “  Ha Lo Tov, Der Nisht Gitter, the Not Good One"? The sitra achara- the other side, the dark side, the opposite of all that is Godly.

Who are the six sons? The six Sefirot- Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet,Netzach, Hod, Yesod

Who is the daughter? The tenth sefira, Malkhut- the feminine royalty, also  Shekhinah, the feminine presence, or Matrona. the Lady It is the point of interaction between God and the world. It is joined, as a man is joined to a woman. In classic Kabbala, the Shekhinah has been ripped asunder from the realm of the Sefirot. It has been captured by the Sitra Achara. An element of the divine is trapped inside the realm of evil, Alma di peruda, the world of separation.

Who is the viceroy? Adam, the human being, who must restore the princess. He fails the very first test ( the apple). He fails the second test during  the time of the first Temple. He sleeps for  seventy years, the length of the first exile. All he has left is the scarf written in tears—the Torah- Ha nigla ve hanistar, that which has been revealed and that which has been hidden.

The Viceroy then is the Jew, as  the specific embodiment of Adam, especially the devout Jew, the Jew who struggles with his passions and failings, the one confronted by the ridiculousness of the task, until he finds that one last witness to his truth. Then redemption eventually comes, personal, national, universal.

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