November 22, 2022 by Lazer Brody
The following post is based on a parable that the Maggid of Mezeritch told some 250 years ago.
There was violent knocking on the front door. The woman of the home fearfully opened it, and there was a giant, mean-looking royal guardsman. He growled and asked, “Where’s your husband? He must come with me right now. The king is summoning him immediately to the palace.” He presented her an envelope sealed with the royal seal.
Trembling, she called her husband, who was calmly finishing his breakfast. “Dear, oh my gosh! There’s a huge, scar-faced courier from the palace at the front door. What have you done wrong? Have you spoken against the king? Have you stolen royal property. The king is calling you right now. I’m so scared! Will you come home? Heaven help us…”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” the husband said with no fear. “So what if the courier looks scary with his tremendous frame and scarred face. He can’t lift a finger without the king. I know the king personally. Maybe he just wants to see me because I haven’t visited the palace in a long time. Besides, even if I did something wrong, the king is compassionate and forgiving; I can appeal directly to him. I’m not worried and the courier doesn’t frighten me. I don’t want you to be alarmed either.
Sure enough, the husband was correct. The king simply yearned to see him right away. Everything was fine.
A year later, a different royal courier knocked on the front door. He also wore a palace uniform, but he was kind-looking, smiling and very cordial. Again, the wife opened up the front door and he presented her with a big box, a gift from the king. She ran into the kitchen, where her husband was calmly finishing his breakfast. “Look, dear! The palace courier brought us a tremendous gift!”
Unmoved, almost apathetic, the husband took another sip of coffee. “It’s not the courier, sweetheart, it’s the king who sent the gift.”
“I don’t understand you,” the wife said. “Last year, when the mean-looking guardsman came with the summons, you were not afraid at all. But now that this really nice-looking messenger has brought you a gift, you’re not excited?”
The husband answered, “Both are couriers, messengers of the palace. They neither frighten me nor excite me. They both come to remind me of the king.”
That’s our parable. The message is that at varying times, things pop up in our lives that are liable to raise our anxiety levels. It could be an illness, a letter from the tax authorities or any other threatening situation. These are all the King’s couriers, Hashem’s message that if any of these things scare us, it means that our fear of Hashem is misplaced. Why? When we fear Hashem, we fear nothing or no one.
Conversely, sometimes we experience immense love or something that gives us great joy. These two are the King’s couriers, conveying the message that we should love the King – Hashem – at least as much as we love our favorite physical indulgences.
Both cases, the seemingly good and the seemingly bad, are emissaries from above to remind us of the King of Kings. The things in this world that arouse our fear are reminders that we should fear no one other than Hashem. The things in the world that arouse our love are reminders of just how much we must love Hashem, and all the more.
With true love and fear of Hashem, He is always with us. That way, we cling to Hashem and this world becomes a Heaven on earth. G-d bless always.