Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
From THE SEVEN BEGGARS
THE STORY OF THE FIRST DAY
THE BLIND BEGGAR
The bride and groom were also very happy indeed.
They started remembering God's kindnesses to them when they were in the forest. With tears of longing in their eyes, they wished that the first blind beggar who gave them bread in the forest could attend their wedding.
Just as they were longing and yearning for the blind beggar, he suddenly appeared and said:
I'm here! I've come to be with you at your wedding. And my wedding gift to you is that you should be old like me. At first I blessed you with this, but now I am giving it to you as an outright gift - that you should live a long life like me.
You think I'm blind, but I'm not blind at all. It is only that all the time in the whole world counts as no more than the blink of an eye for me.
(That was why he appeared blind, because he did not look at the world at all since all the time in the world did not count as more than the blink of an eye for him. Therefore the concept of looking at this world simply did not apply to him.)
I am very old, but I'm young - I am still a suckling child! I haven't even started to live at all. But even so, I am very old. Not only I say this. I have the agreement of the Great Eagle! Let me tell you the story.
Once, some men went out to sea in many boats. A great storm wind smashed the boats, but the men were saved. They came to a tower and they went inside. There they found all the food, drink, clothes and everything else they needed. They were provided with all the delights of the world.
They decided that each one should tell the oldest story he could remember - his earliest memory. There were old and young men there, and they honored the oldest among them by asking him to speak first.
"What can I tell you?" he said. "I remember when they cut the apple from the branch." Nobody knew what he was talking about. However, there were some wise men there who said, "This is certainly a very old story."
Next they honored the second oldest, who said: "Is that such an old story? I too remember that, but I also remember when the lamp was burning."
Some of the people there said, "This story is older than the first." They found it remarkable that this second one, who was younger than the first, remembered an older story.
Then the third oldest said, "I remember when the construction of the fruit started, when the fruit first began to form."
"This is an even older story," they said.
The fourth, who was still younger, said, "I also remember when they brought the seed to plant the fruit."
The fifth, who was even younger, said, "I also remember the sages who thought up and invented the seed."
The sixth, who was still younger, said, "I remember the taste of the fruit before the taste entered the fruit."
The seventh said, "I remember the smell of the fruit before it entered the fruit."
The eighth said, "I remember the appearance of the fruit before it was drawn into the fruit."
And I. - said the blind beggar who was telling all this - .I remember all these stories, and I also remember complete nothingness."
"This is a very old story," they said, "older than all the others." They found it amazing that the baby remembered more than all of them.
Suddenly the Great Eagle came and knocked on the tower and said to them, "Stop being poor! Go back to your treasures!"
The Great Eagle told them to leave the tower in order of seniority. Whoever was older was to leave first. He conducted them all out of the tower, taking the baby out first. This was because in truth he was older than all of them. Whoever was younger, he took out first, while he took out the oldest of all last. This was because whoever was younger was older, while the oldest of them was younger than all of them!
The Great Eagle said to them, "Let me explain to you the stories each one told. The one who said he remembers when they cut the apple from the branch was saying that he could remember when they cut his umbilical cord. His earliest memory went back to the moment he was born, when they cut his umbilical cord.
"The second one, who said he remembered when the lamp was burning, could remember when he was in the womb, when a lamp burned over his head.
"The one who said he could remember when the fruit began to form could remember when the body began to form, when the embryo first came into being.
"The one who remembered when they brought the seed to plant the fruit could remember when the drop came forth at the time of union.
"The one who remembered the sages who invented the seed could remember when the drop was still in the brain. For it is the brain that produces the drop. The one who remembered the taste was remembering the Nefesh-soul. The one who remembered the scent remembered the Ruach-spirit. The one who remembered the appearance was remembering the Neshamah-soul.
"And the baby who said he remembered complete nothingness is higher than all the others, because he remembers even what came before the Nefesh-Ruach-Neshamah, which is nothingness.
"Go back to your boats," said the Great Eagle. "They are your bodies, which were broken. They will be rebuilt. Now go back to them." He blessed them.
And to me, said the blind beggar who was telling all this, who had then been a baby, the Great Eagle said, "You come with me, because you are like me: you are very old but you are still very young, and you have not begun to live at all yet, even though you are very old. I am also like this, because I am very old yet I am still a suckling babe."
Thus I have the Great Eagle' s promise of a long life. And now I am giving you my long life as a wedding gift.
This brought tremendous joy and happiness at the wedding celebration.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved