A Portion of the Hand Written Discourse of R’ Shmuel of Lubavitch Including the Mashal of the Ba’al Shem Tov

The Shofar: If You Can’t Talk, Cry!

The loud noise startled the king from his royal slumber. The voice was terribly familiar. Could it be? His lost son’s cry? • Even when a Jew doesn’t speak G-d’s language, his wordless cries penetrate the heavens • The Ba’al Shem Tov’s Shofar mashal

The seat of luxury was where he sat. He swam laps in pools of pleasure, indulged in tantalizing feasts of pure extravagance. After all he was the prince and nothing he ever wanted was denied. Spoiled rotten, he was King Alfred’s only son and heir to the throne.

It was a rainy Tuesday when the king took his beloved youngster on a stroll through the indoor gardens of the palace. Stunning silk leaves blew gently and the light rain could be heard gently pattering on the crystal window panes. “George,” the king began simply as he placed his royal arm around his son’s shoulders. “Today is an important day. Today you are going to be sent on your first real mission.”

A spark ignited in the Prince’s turquoise eyes as he jumped up from the wooden bench they were sitting upon! “A mission daddy? Why, that is exhilarating! I can’t wait! Please, tell me what it’s all about!”

“How will I ever survive, without my servants and maids, without food served to me on a silver platter and my daily schedule planned to the minute?

“Well,” said the king “I am going to send you far from the palace. Your mission will be to mingle with the locals and to analyze their speech and behaviors. Your role is to build yourself up as a caring and powerful leader.”

“But Daddy!” cried the Prince, a tremor in his voice. “How will I ever survive, without my servants and maids, without food served to me on a silver platter and my daily schedule planned to the minute? How am I going to manage?”

“Fear not,” his Majesty responded patiently. “I will send along your servants and a treasure box filled with golden coins for you to spend as you please. When you feel you have completed your mission, feel free to return home.”

A few minutes of thoughtful silence passed as George contemplated the notion. They strolled slowly past the waterfall, pausing to watch the indoor stream cascade softly down the artificial stones.

“I’m ready” decided the prince with an air of importance. “I’m up for the challenge!”

***

Five long months had passed quickly. Intoxicated with the unknown freedom he was suddenly thrown into, the Prince indulged in whatever he could spend his money on.

He purchased more than he had ever owned; he ate more than he had ever ate; he bought boats and ships and homes and palaces and splurged more than he had ever splurged before.

To his consternation, he realized that he no longer remembered the language of his people. A ragged beggar of a boy, he frantically tried to signal to the guards at the border that he was the Prince.

Yet the debts caught up with him and one gloomy day Prince George found himself penniless. He desperately began to sell his possessions so that he could afford his daily feasts of fatty meats and aged wine.

The downward spiral just kept on spinning. At the end of the year, the poor Prince had no servants, no money, no possessions and certainly no leadership skills to boast of. All that remained was his frail body and the tattered clothes on his back.

Like a pauper, he wandered from town to town. He yearned for his warm bed in the palace. He craved his father’s love and attention. As he travelled, he begged the locals to help him back to the palace. Yet he had wandered so far that the people didn’t even know of his dear father, the royal king.

Stumbling here and there, he finally reached a city he recognized! Yes! It was his home town, the country’s capitol! A smile crept upon his weary face. He was almost home. Yet to his consternation, he realized that he no longer remembered the language of his people. A ragged beggar of a boy, he frantically tried to signal to the guards at the border that he was the Prince. Yet they laughed at his strange motions and pushed him aside, while more aggressive guards ordered a few blows to his ungroomed skull.

As darkness fell upon the city, Prince George snuck his way in and ran as fast as he could towards the palace. Yet the guards at the gate would not let him in. His sweat mingled with his tears as he began to gesture to the guards that this was his home! They too, laughed at him and looked at him with pity, thinking he must be slightly deranged.

Our poor prince was weak from his travels and parched from the journey. He was so close yet so far. His royal heart ached with pain. He couldn’t hold himself back any longer and let out a piercing cry from the depths of his heart. website host information A painful cry that pierced through the palace walls.

The loud noise startled the king from his royal slumber. The voice was terribly familiar. Could it be? His lost son’s cry? Quickly he ran downstairs and ordered that the gates be opened wide, letting the Prince fall into his father’s loving embrace.

***

The Jewish people are called G-d’s Prince – His only dear and precious child. Just as the king sent his son on a mission, G-d sends our soul into a physical body in a material world on a mission – to refine ourselves and our living space through the divine spiritual meaning found only in the Torah and its Mitzvos.

We’ve lost the language. All we know how to do is to cry. So we cry out. We blow the Shofar from the depths of our heart which is the simple sound of a son’s cry

Yet we become intoxicated by the pleasures of the world. We lose our way and lose our focus, until we fall so deep into a place where people are not familiar with G-d. Slowly we lose everything – our spiritual sensitivity, even our physical pleasures – just like the prince lost everything, even his very own language!

And that’s when we decide it’s time to head home. It’s time to return to G-d. Yet we’ve lost touch! We’ve lost the language. All we know how to do is to cry. So we cry out. We blow the Shofar from the depths of our heart which is the simple sound of a son’s cry. A cry that calls out that we regret our misdeeds and we will try to improve for the future.

And the loud noise arouses the almighty King G-d’s natural love for his people on Rosh Hashanah. He forgives us and opens the gates of heavens wide for His nation on Yom Kippur, embracing us on Sukkos with His loving goodness.


 

This mashal (parable) was related by the Ba’al Shem Tov, and is recorded in slight variations in the writings of the masters of Chassidus. This version is adapted from the writings of the fifth Chabad Rebbe, R’ Shmuel of Lubavitch in the 70th chapter his momentous 135 chapter long hemshech– V’Chahcha of 5637 (1877). [A hemshech is a discourse delivered in weekly intervals over an extended period of time.]