Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Book of Adam

Before the time of the Baal Shem Tov, lived a saintly, holy Jew, known as Reb Adam Ha Tzaddik. Rabbi Adam had mastered Torah and secrets of Kabbalah, but was still not satisfied. He pleaded with The Almighty: "Father in Heaven! I beg of You to open the innermost secrets of the Torah so that I may bring honor and glory to Your name."

One night, Rabbi Adam had a dream in which he stood in The Ma'aras Ha'Machpelah - the burial place of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. He saw lying before him 'HaSefer Ha'Adam - THE BOOK OF ADAM", in which is contained the TETGRAMATON - the secret, mystical name of the Eternal Being. Only six others were worthy of its secrets: Adam, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and King Solomon. Rabbi Adam studied the book and its secret knowledge was revealed to him.

He then asked: "After I am gone from this world, to whom should I pass on these secrets of The BOOK OF ADAM?" A heavenly voice replied: "Seek Rabbi Israel, son of Rabbi Eliezer, who lives in Okup. He is worthy to receive it".

The next day, Rabbi Adam wrote down all he had learned. He then called his son and said, "When I take leave from this world, take this BOOK OF ADAM to Israel, son of Eliezer, who lives in Okup. This book will belong to him. After Rabbi Adam departed from this world, his son followed his father's request and gave the holy manuscript to The Baal Shem Tov.

In his time, Rabbi Adam was known as a man of great wisdom even among the non-Jews. The ruler of the adjoining land, a Kaiser, occasionally asked for his counsel. Once, when Rabbi Adam was summoned to the Kaiser's castle, after offering his opinion on a certain matter, he invited the Kaiser to a banquet in his home. To the surprise of the ruler's attendants, the Kaiser accepted the invitation, and a date was set for the following week. Then Rabbi Adam returned home to prepare for the Banquet.

Rabbi Adam lived in a very small, modest house - hardly suitable to entertain royalty. After purifying himself by immersing in a mikvah, Rabbi Adam fell into a deep state of meditation using secret powers entrusted to him through the Book of Adam.

He envisioned a king who lived in a large palace. This king wished to invite the ruler of the neighboring land for a banquet. The king instructed his servants to prepare a grand banquet. In a large banquet hall stood a large table bedecked with gold dishes. The king arranged for the neighboring land's king to attend his banquet on a certain date - the same day the Kaiser would visit Rabbi Adam.

Among the Kaiser's ministers was one who held a well-known hatred for Jews. He tried his best to dissuade the Kaiser from visiting Rabbi Adam: "Your Excellency, the Rabbi lives in a tiny two room house in a village. It is not fitting your honour to dine in such a setting." But the Kaiser recognized Rabbi Adam's wisdom and enjoyed their discussions, so he paid no attention to his minister. As the royal entourage traveled towards Rabbi Adam's town, the minister tried to convince the Kaiser to abandon the idea and return home to the palace. In the course of the journey, the Kaiser began to wonder how he and all his attendants would be able to dine in such a small house. He instructed one of his guards with the fastest horse to ride ahead and to report back as to the banquet preparations.

The messenger soon returned and reported that Rabbi Adam's house was a small shack and he did not see any special preparations being made. The Kaiser was now unsure, but as they were almost at their destination, decided to continue towards Rabbi Adam's home.

As the royal carriage entered the small town, the residents stood in disbelief: The Kaiser himself was in their town! As the Kaiser's carriage turned onto the street where Rabbi Adam lived, he beheld a magnificent palace! The Kaiser stepped out of his golden carriage with a great smile. Servants took the horses to the stables, while palace waiters silently escorted the Kaiser and his attendants to the banquet hall.

Rabbi Adam awaited the Kaiser in the banquet Hall, and soon the Kaiser and his court were sitting with Rabbi Adam enjoying the lavish feast.

Rabbi Adam then said, "I welcome you all to this palace of my King, and I invite you all to eat and drink to your fill! But I have one request. Please do not remove any of the table settings from the room."

Following the feast, Rabbi Adam turned to the Kaiser: "Any person among you who has a particular wish should say to me - 'I want this, or I want that' - and then put his hand in the pocket of his coat, and he will find the object that he wished for."

The Kaiser was first. He wished for a gold watch - and found it in the pocket of his coat. The ministers were beside themselves with excitement: They each told the Rabbi their requests, and each received his specific request.

When it was the turn of the minister who hated Jews, after telling Rabbi Adam his wish, he reached into his pocket, but screamed as he felt something disgusting! He quickly pulled out his hand covered with putrid slime! The smell was nauseating! He ran to wash his hand, but try as hard as he could, he could not rid himself of the foul smell that overtook his whole body.

The minister turned to Rabbi Adam: Pleas help me! I am going to faint from this stink!"

Rabbi Adam then said: "If you will swear to me in front of your master, the Kaiser, never to express your hate for the Jewish people again, I will help you. If not, you will bear this filthy odour for the remainder of your life." The minister began to wail - and then swore never to express hate for the Jewish people again.

Then Rabbi Adam told him: "There is only one remedy. To take the urine from a Jew. You will wash in it and this will take away the smell." And so it happened.

The Kaiser decided to test the Rabbi's request, and hid two gold cups from the banquet table in an inner pocket of his coat. The Kaiser thanked their host, and departed. As soon as they turned the corner, the palace and all that it held, disappeared. Only two gold cups were missing.

Word of the strange events spread throughout the land - that an unknown king with an unknown palace had suddenly appeared, and then again disappeared - except for two missing gold cups. Sometime later, the Kaiser sent a letter to the "unknown" king in which he wrote: "A Rabbi brought us to your palace, where we ate and drank your fine food and wine. As a sign of my respect, I am returning to you your two gold cups."

And so it was.

Source: Freely adapted by Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn, Patent Attorney) from a story found in Shivchei HaBesht and translated in Tales of the Baal Shem Tov by Mintz and Ben Amos

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