Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
From THE SEVEN BEGGARS
THE STORY OF THE SIXTH DAY
THE BEGGAR WITH NO HANDS
On the sixth day, as they celebrated happily, they longed to have the beggar with no hands with them. All of a sudden he appeared and said, "Here I am! I have come to join you at your wedding." He kissed them and said:
You think there's something wrong with my hands. But there's nothing in the least wrong with my hands. The truth is that I have great power in my hands. It's just that I don't use the power in my hands in this world, because I need it for another purpose. And I have the agreement of the Water Castle about this.
Once a number of men sat together, each boasting about the power he had in his hands. One of them boasted that he possessed such and such a power in his hands. Another boasted that he had a different power in his hands. Each one boasted about the unique power he had in his hands.
One boasted that he had such a mighty power in his hands that when he shot an arrow, he was able to draw it back to himself. Even after shooting the arrow, he could still bring it back.
I asked him, "Which kind of arrow can you bring back?" For there are ten kinds of arrows, because there are ten kinds of poisons. When someone wants to shoot an arrow, he smears it with some kind of poison. When the arrow is smeared with one kind of poison, it does one sort of damage, but when it is smeared with the second kind, it causes worse damage. Each of the ten kinds of poison is worse than the one before it, causing greater damage. This in itself is why there are ten kinds of arrows. The arrows themselves are basically all of one kind, but because of the different poisons smeared on them, they are called ten kinds of arrows.
That was why I asked him, "Which kind of arrow can you bring back?" I also asked if he could draw the arrow back only before it reached its intended victim or if he could also bring it back even after it had struck the victim. To this he replied that he could still bring the arrow back even after it had reached its target. But when I asked him what kind of arrow he could bring back, he answered that he could only bring back one particular kind.
The beggar with no hands continued: I said to him: "If so, you are unable to heal the queen's daughter, because you can only turn back and draw out one kind of arrow."
Another boasted that he had such a power in his hands that whenever he took or received from another, he was actually giving to them. His very taking and receiving were his way of giving, making him a master of charity.
I asked him, "What kind of charity do you give?" For there are ten kinds of charity. He replied that he gave a tenth as his tithe. "If so," I told him, "you cannot heal the queen ' s d aughter since you are quite unable to reach her place , because you can penetrate only one of the fortified walls surrounding the place where she is . "
One boasted that he had a unique power in his hands, because the world has officers, all of whom require wisdom, and he had the power to confer wisdom upon them by laying his hands on them.
"What kind of wisdom can you confer with your hands?" I enquired, since there are ten kinds of wisdom. "Such and such a kind," he replied. "If so," I told him, "you cannot heal the queen ' s d aughter since you cannot take her pulse, because you only recognize one pulse. There are ten kinds of pulses, yet you recognize only one of them since you can confer only one kind of wisdom with your hands."
Another boasted that he had such a power in his hands that when a storm-wind blew, he could use his hands to restrain it and make it blow in moderation.
"Which wind can you hold in your hands?" I enquired, because there are ten kinds of winds. "Such and such a wind," he replied.
"If so," I said, "you cannot heal the queen ' s d aughter , because you can play her only a single melody." There are ten kinds of melody, and she is healed through melody. But you can play only one of the ten melodies.
"And what power do you possess?" they all asked.
"I can do what you cannot do," I replied. "All the nine tenths that each of you is incapable of accomplishing, I have the power to accomplish."
For once a certain king desired the queen's daughter. He tried everything possible to capture her , until eventually he succeeded. Once the king had a dream in which she stood over him and killed him. He awoke and the dream went deep into his heart. He called all the dream interpreters and they gave the obvious interpretation: that she would kill him.
The king did not know what to do with her. The thought of killing her pained him, yet the thought of sending her away hurt him even more, because he had made such efforts to capture her and now someone else would take her. Moreover, if he sent her away and she passed into someone else's hands, his dream about her killing him was even likelier to come true as she would be with someone else. Yet he was also afraid to keep her with him because of the dream.
The king had no idea what to do to her, and meanwhile his love for her turned ever more sour every time he thought about the dream. Likewise the love she had for him turned ever sourer until she came to hate him, and she fled.
The king sent after her to try to find her. He was informed that she was now in the Water Castle - a castle with ten walls, one inside the other, all made of water. Even the floor of the Castle was made of water. There were trees and fruits there, all made of water. There is no need to describe the unique beauty of this castle. A castle made of water is certainly quite unique. To enter the castle would be quite impossible, since anyone who tried to enter would drown.
When the queen's daughter fled, she reached this Water Castle and began circling around it. The king was informed that she was circling the castle, and he went with his army to capture her. When the queen's daughter saw this, she decided to run inside the castle. She preferred to drown than to allow the king to catch her and force her to stay with him. There was also a chance that she might succeed in entering the Water Castle and be saved.
When the king saw her fleeing to the water, he said, "So be it!" and gave instructions to shoot her. "If she dies, she dies!"
They shot at her and all the ten kinds of arrows smeared with the ten kinds of poisons struck her. She fled to the castle and went inside. There were gates in the fortified walls of water. She passed through until she had penetrated all ten walls of the Water Castle . She came deep inside and then collapsed, sapped of all strength.
The beggar with no hands continued: And I heal her! Someone who does not have all the ten kinds of charity in his hand cannot penetrate the ten fortified walls, because he will drown. The king and his army pursued her and drowned. But I have the power to penetrate all ten fortified walls of water. These walls of water are the waves of the sea that "stood like a wall" (Exodus 14:29 ) . The winds lift the waves of the sea, making them stand. These waves, which are the ten walls, are there constantly, but it is the winds that lift them and keep them standing.
I can enter all ten fortified walls, and I have the power to draw out all the ten kinds of arrows from the queen's daughter. With my ten fingers, I can recognize all the ten kinds of pulses: each of my ten fingers knows one of the ten kinds of pulses. And I can heal her with the ten kinds of melody.
Thus it is that I heal her. This is proof that I have such great power in my hands. And now I am giving you this as a gift!
This created the greatest happiness and rejoicing.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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