Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Honor of Thanksgiving: The Turkey Prince

The Turkey Prince

From Tales From Reb Nachman (Artscroll / Mesorah)
Retold for children and illustrated by Dovid Sears

Once upon a time, there was a prince who decided that he was a turkey. So he took off his clothes and sat under the royal table. There he pecked at bones and crusts of bread - and even at people's legs. Sometimes he made turkey sounds so loud that everyone had to run out of the room holding his ears! Famous doctors from Austria tried to cure him, but they all gave up. His father the king didn't know what to do. All of his wealth and power didn't seem to matter any more.

At last, a wise man came to the palace. He wore a long black coat and hat, and his high boots were muddy and worn. His beard had been gray for many years, but he still seemed young and strong. I will cure the prince," he said. "But you must let me do it my way, even if it seems strange."

The king agreed. He ordered his servants to do everything the wise man said.

The next morning after breakfast, the wise man took off his clothes. He sat down under the royal table near the king's son. And he, too, pecked at crumbs and bones, as if he always ate this way.

"Who are you?" asked the prince. "And what are you doing here?"

"Who are you?" asked the wise man. "And what are you doing here?"

"I am a turkey," answered the prince.

"I am also a turkey," answered the wise man.

Then they both continued to crawl across the thick carpet on their hands and knees. They clucked and gobbled and looked for pieces of food. They did this together for many hours and became friends.

The next afternoon, after a lunch of corn flakes and dust, the wise man signaled the royal butler to bring two shirts. The wise man asked the prince, "Do you think turkeys can't wear shirts just like people? We can wear shirts and still be turkeys!" And they both put on shirts.

A day later he signaled again, and the butler brought them pants. As before, the wise man asked, "Do you think turkeys can't wear pants just like people? We can wear pants and still be turkeys!" The wise plan worked well. In a few days he and the prince were dressed like everyone else in the palace. But they still crawled and pecked at crumbs.

Now it was time for the second part of his plan. The wise man signaled again, and the servants brought platters of meat and potatoes, salads and fruits and sweet rolls from the table. "Do you think turkeys can't eat good food just like people?" asked the wise man. "We can eat everything people eat and still be turkeys!" So they still sat under the table, but they ate the same food as the royal family.

Finally, the wise man asked, "Do you think turkeys can't sit at the table just like people? We can sit at the table and still be turkeys!"

For many days the wise man continued talking to the king's son in this way. Then, finally, the prince awoke one morning and realized that he was not a turkey after all.


Deep down inside, we all want to be good people and live a holy life. But sometimes, we think we are so far from Hashem that we are like turkeys under the table, pecking at crumbs. That's why Hashem put tzaddikim in this world. They can help us see that we are really Hashem's children. Then we are able to sit at His royal table and taste the sweetness of His Torah. And that's where we really belong!

© 1987 Mesorah Publications

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