Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
THE LOST PRINCESS
I was on a journey, and I told a story that made everyone who heard it want to draw closer to God. And this is the story:
There was once a king who had six sons and one daughter. This daughter was especially dear to him. He loved her greatly and took the utmost delight in her.
One day when he was with her, he became angry with her. Suddenly the word s slipped out of his mouth: "Let the Evil One take you away!"
That night she went to her room, but in the morning no-one knew where she was. Her father was very distressed and he went searching for her everywhere.
Seeing how deeply troubled the king was, the Prime Minister rose and asked to be given an attendant, a horse and money for expenses, and he went off in search of her. He searched and searched for a very long time, until eventually he found her. This story is about how he searched for her until he found her.
For a long, long time he went from one place to another - through wildernesses, fields and forests, searching and searching.
While passing through a wilderness, he saw a path leading off to the side. He thought to himself: "I have been traveling in the wilderness for such a long time and I cannot find her. Let me try this path. Perhaps I will reach some habitation."
He kept going for a long time. Finally, he saw a castle with many soldiers standing around it. The castle was very beautiful, and the troops were standing around it in fine order. He was afraid that the soldiers would not let him enter. But he thought to himself, "I'll go and try." He left his horse and went to the castle.
They let him in without trying to stop him and allowed him to go from room to room. He came to a great hall and looked around. The king was sitting there with his crown. Before him were many soldiers and many singers with instruments. It was very, very beautiful there. Neither the king nor anybody else asked him anything.
He saw good food and delicacies. He ate and then went to lie down in a corner to see what would happen. He saw the king give an order to bring the queen. They went to bring her, and there was a great commotion and great happiness. The musicians played and sang as they brought the queen. They placed a chair for her and seated her by the king. It was the princess! The Prime Minister saw her and recognized her.
Afterwards the queen glanced and noticed someone lying in the corner. She recognized him. She rose from her throne and went over to him and touched him.
"Do you recognize me?" she asked.
"Yes," he replied, "I recognize you. You are the king's daughter, who was lost. How did you get here?"
"Because my father the king let that word out of his mouth," she replied. " This is the place of evil."
He told her that her father was in terrible pain and had been searching for her for many years.
"How can I take you out?" he asked.
"It will be impossible for you to take me out," she replied, "unless you choose yourself a place and stay there for a whole year. Throughout the entire year you must yearn to take me out. Whenever you have time, you must only yearn, long and wait to free me. And you must also fast. On the very last day of the year you must fast and you must not sleep for the entire twenty-four hours."
He did as she said. At the end of the year, on the very last day, he fasted and did not sleep. He rose to go there. On the way he saw a tree with exceptionally beautiful apples. The sight was very tempting, and he stopped to eat. As soon as he ate the apple, he fell into a deep sleep.
He slept for a very long time indeed. His attendant tried to rouse him, but he did not wake up. Eventually he awoke, and asked his attendant:
"Where in the world am I?"
The attendant told the Prime Minister what had happened. "You have been asleep for a very long time - for many years. I have been living off the fruits."
The Prime Minister was very pained. He went and found the king ' s daughter , but she complained to him bitterly:
"If you had come on that day you could have taken me out from here. And because of one day, you lost! It is true that not to eat is very hard indeed, especially on the last day, because then the evil urge attacks very strongly."
The princess told him that she would now make it easier for him. He would not be required not to eat, because that is very hard to endure.
"Go back and choose yourself a place and stay there for another year. On the last day you may eat. Only you must not sleep, and you must not drink wine so that you do not sleep, because the main thing is not to sleep!"
He did as she said. On the last day he was on his way to her when he saw a flowing spring. It was red in color and had the smell of wine.
"Have you seen this spring?" he asked the attendant. "It should be water but it's red in color and smells of wine!"
He tasted from the spring and fell immediately into a deep slumber. He slept for many years - seventy years! Many troops passed by followed by their baggage trains and equipment. The attendant hid himself from the soldiers. Afterwards came carriages and a chariot, and there sat the king's daughter.
She stopped next to him and stepped down. She sat at his side and recognized him. She tried very hard to arouse him, but he did not stir. She started lamenting over him.
"He made such great efforts and tried so hard for so many years to free me, and because of that one day when he could have freed me, he lost his chance."
She cried and cried.
"It's a terrible pity for him and for me. I have been here for such a long time and I can't get out."
Afterwards she took the scarf from off her head and wrote on it with her tears. She laid it by his side, rose, sat in her chariot and left.
Afterwards he woke up. He asked the attendant: "Where in the world am I?" The attendant told him all that had happened - how many soldiers had passed by, and then a chariot. A woman had wept over him, crying out what a pity it was, both for him and for her.
Meanwhile he noticed the scarf lying at his side.
"Where is this from?" he asked.
The attendant told him that she had written on it with her tears. He picked it up and raised it towards the sun. He began to see letters. Written there he could read all her complaints and laments.
".And now I am no longer in that castle. Instead you must search for a mountain of gold and a castle of pearls - there you will find me!"
The Prime Minster left the attendant and went off alone to search for her. He traveled for many years searching for her. He thought to himself:
"Certainly no mountain of gold with a castle of pearls exists in any inhabited area!" (He was familiar with geography.) "Therefore I will go to search in wildernesses!"
He went searching for her in wildernesses for many years.
Then he saw a huge man. He was so immense that he could not be considered a human being. He was carrying an enormous tree, the like of which would never be found in any inhabited area.
"Who are you?" asked the giant.
"I'm a man," he replied.
The giant was very surprised. "I have been in the wilderness for such a long time and I have never ever seen a man here!"
The Prime Minister told him the whole story and that he was searching for a mountain of gold with a castle of pearls.
"Such a thing definitely does not exist," said the giant. He discouraged the Prime Minister and told him he had been tricked with complete nonsense.
The Prime Minister began to cry and cry. "It definitely must exist somewhere !"
However, the giant discouraged him, saying, "You have certainly been told complete nonsense." But the Prime Minister insisted that it definitely did exist.
The strange giant said to the Prime Minister: "In my opinion this is nonsense. But since you are so stubborn. I am in charge of all the animals. For your sake, I will call all the animals, since they roam around the whole world. Perhaps one of them know s of this mountain and castle!"
He called them all, from the smallest to the largest - all kinds of animals - and he asked them. But they all answered that they had not seen it.
"You see!" he told the Prime Minister, "they told you complete nonsense. Listen to me and go back, because you will definitely not find it. There is no such thing in the world." But the Prime Minister persisted, saying, "It certainly must exist!"
The giant said to the Prime Minister: " Deeper in the wilderness is my brother. He is in charge of all the birds. Perhaps they know since they fly high in the air. Perhaps they have seen that mountain and castle. Go to him and tell him that I sent you."
The Prime Minister searched for him for many years . Again he found an immense giant carrying an enormous tree. He asked him the same questions and the Prime Minster told him the whole story and that his brother had sent him to him. The second giant also discouraged him. "Such a thing definitely does not exist". But the Prime Minister insisted.
The second giant said to the Prime Minister: "I am appointed over all the birds. I will call them - perhaps they know." He called all the birds and asked all of them from the smallest to the largest. They answered that they knew nothing of such a mountain and such a castle.
The giant said to the Prime Minister, "Can't you see? It quite definitely does not exist anywhere in the world! Listen to me and go back, for it certainly does not exist." But the Prime Minister pressed him and insisted that it definitely must exist somewhere in the world.
The second giant said to the Prime Minister: " Deeper in the wilderness is my brother, who is in charge of all the winds. They blow over the entire world - perhaps they know."
The Prime Minister searched for many years, and found a man who was also immense and also carrying an enormous tree. He asked him the same questions and the Prime Minister told him the whole story. He too discouraged him, but the Prime Minister persisted.
The third giant said to the Prime Minister that for his sake he would call all the winds to come and ask them. He summoned them, and all the winds came. He asked all of them, but none of them knew of any such mountain or castle.
"Can't you see?" said the giant to the Prime Minister. "They told you complete nonsense!" The Prime Minister began crying and crying. "I know that it definitely exists," he repeated.
In the meantime, he saw that another wind had arrived. The captain of the winds was very angry with this wind.
"Why have you come so late? Didn't I decree that all the winds must come? Why did you not come with them?"
But the wind replied: "I was delayed because I had to carry a princess to a mountain of gold and a castle of pearls."
The Prime Minister was overjoyed.
The captain asked the wind, "What is precious there? What is considered valuable and important?"
"There," he replied, "everything is very precious."
The captain of the winds said to the Prime Minister: "You have been searching for her for such a long time and you've made so many efforts. In case you encounter any obstacle because of money, I am giving you a purse that you just put your hand into and take out money."
He commanded the wind to take him there. The storm wind came and carried him there and brought him to the gate. There were soldiers standing there who would not let him enter the city, but he put his hand into the vessel and took out money and bribed them and went into the city.
It was a very beautiful city. He went to one of the wealthy citizens and paid for board knowing that he would have to stay there, as it would require great wisdom and intelligence to take her out.
How he freed her is not told, but in the end he took her out.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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