Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
From THE SEVEN BEGGARS
THE STORY OF THE SECOND DAY
THE LOST GARDENER
On the second day of the seven-day wedding celebration, the couple remembered the second beggar, the deaf man who had saved their lives and given them bread. With tears of longing in their eyes, they wished they could have the deaf beggar with them at their wedding celebration.
At the very moment when they were longing for him to be there, he suddenly appeared and said, "Here I am!"
He fell on them and kissed them, saying:
Now I am giving you as a gift that you should be like me - that you should live the good life, just like me. At first I blessed you with this, and now I am giving you my good life as an outright gift in honor of your wedding.
You think I'm deaf? I'm not deaf at all. It is just that for me, the entire world doesn't amount to anything, so why should I listen to what they want? People cry and scream only because they want or lack something. Each person cries out over what he lacks. Even people's enjoyment is only because of some prior lack the fulfillment of which makes them happy.
But for me the entire world doesn't amount to anything, so why should I let their deficiencies enter my ears ? I live the good life, and I lack nothing. Moreover, I have the agreement of the Land of Wealth that I live the good life.
His good life consisted of eating bread and drinking water.
The deaf beggar began to tell his story:
There is a land of great wealth and enormous treasures. Once the people gathered and everyone started boasting about the good life he lived. Each one gave a detailed account of his good life.
And I stood up and said to them: The good life I live is better than your good life. If you live such a good life, let me test you to see if you can save a certain country that had a garden in which there were fruits with all the tastes in the world. The garden also contained all the scents in the world and all kinds of sights with all the colors and all the flowers in the world. They were all in that garden.
In charge of the garden was a gardener, and it was because of him that the people in the country lived the good life. However, the gardener disappeared and everything in the garden was spoiled, because without him there was no-one to take care of it. Nevertheless, the people were still able to live off the wild plants that grew in the garden.
A cruel king then attacked the land. He was unable to harm the people directly, but he ruined the good life they enjoyed on account of the garden. He did not destroy the garden itself but he left three bands of slaves in the land and gave them orders what to do. They ruined all the tastes, so that everything tasted of putrid dead flesh. They ruined all the scents, so that everything had the foul stench of galbanum. And they ruined all the sights by darkening everyone's eyes, as if thick, heavy clouds were hanging over everything. The slaves accomplished all this by following the cruel king's instructions.
The deaf beggar continued: I said to the people of the Land of Wealth , "If you live the good life, let me see if you can save the country with the garden. And I am telling you: if you cannot save them, you too may suffer harm."
The people of the Land of Wealth journeyed there, and I went with them. During the journey, they all lived their good life because of their treasures. However, as soon as they approached the country with the garden, they felt a marked deterioration in everything they tasted, smelled and saw.
I said to them, "If now, before you have even entered the country, the tastes, smells and sights have already been spoiled, how will it be if you actually go in? How can you possibly save them?"
I gave them some of my bread and water, and in them they could once again taste all the delicious tastes they had enjoyed before they were spoiled.
The people of the country with the garden began to investigate what they could do to heal the ruined tastes, smells and sights. They came to the conclusion that the lost gardener through whom they had enjoyed the good life must be from one and the same root as the people of the Land of Wealth , who also enjoyed the good life. They therefore decided to send emissaries to the people of the Land of Wealth , who would surely save them.
On their way to the Land of Wealth these emissaries encountered the very people from that Land who were on their way to their own country.
"Where are you going?" asked the people of the Land of Wealth . "We are on our way to the Land of Wealth to ask them to save us," replied the emissaries.
"That is where we are from," they answered, "and we are on our way to you!"
The deaf beggar continued: I said to them, "You surely need me, because you will not be able to get there to save them. Stay here and let me go with the emissaries to save them."
I went with them to the country and entered a city. I saw how a few people would gather and start making witty remarks. More would join them, until there would be quite a gathering. They would tell jokes, until everyone was laughing and giggling. I listened carefully and heard that their jokes were obscene. One of them would make an obscene remark and then a second would give it an even subtler twist, while others would laugh and enjoy the fun.
I went to another city and saw two men quarreling over some business affair. They went to court, and the court ruled in favor of one and against the other. But as soon as they left the court, they started quarreling again and said they did not like this court's decision but wanted to go to a different court. They argued their cases in the second court, but then one of them got into an argument with somebody else and went with him to yet another court. Everybody there was arguing and quarreling and they chose all kinds of different courts, until the whole city was full of law courts.
I looked carefully and saw that this was because there was no truth there. One day a judge would show favor to one side, but afterwards a different judge would show favor to the other side, because they all took bribes and there was no truth anywhere.
Then I saw that they were immersed in sexual immorality to the point that it had become totally permissible in their eyes.
I told them that this was why all the tastes, scents and sights had been spoiled for them. The three bands of slaves left by the cruel king were destroying the country. They were going around talking obscenely among themselves, thereby spreading obscenity. This obscenity is what ruined all the tastes, so that everything had the foul taste of putrid dead flesh. Similarly, they were spreading bribery in the country, as a result of which their eyes were darkened and all the sights were spoiled, for "the bribe blinds the eyes of the wise" (Exodus 23:8) . Likewise they were spreading immorality all over the country, which spoiled the scents.
"You must therefore cleanse the country of these three sins. Hunt down those slaves and drive them out. When you rectify these three sins, not only will your taste, sight and smell be healed, but you will also be able to find the lost gardener."
They started cleansing the country of these three sins and searched for the wicked king's slaves. They would seize someone and ask him, "Where are you from?" As soon as they identified the wicked slaves, they drove them out and cleansed the country of those sins.
Meanwhile there was a commotion. A madman was going around saying that he was the gardener. Everyone thought he was insane, and they threw stones at him to drive him away. Could it possibly be that he really was the gardener? He was brought before the people who were in charge of cleansing the country, and I too was there, continued the deaf beggar.
And I said, "Certainly, this is the true gardener!"
Thus I have the agreement of the Land of Wealth that I live the good life, as I was able to rectify the country with the garden. And now I am giving you my good life as an outright gift.
This caused tremendous joy and delight at the wedding celebration.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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