The Prince, the Stone, And the Wall

“Stay close to me at all times,” a powerful king instructed his beloved son. “Never stray too far, for there are bandits that kidnap,” he warned him.

On one occasion, the royal prince failed to heed his father’s admonition and distanced himself from his father’s presence, whereupon his worst fears came true. A gang of vicious kidnappers captured the prince, tortured him and transported him far away.

Again and again, the prince attempted to contact his father. He wrote emotional letters advising of his terrible condition and pleading for his help. But much to the distraught prince’s dismay, the bandits intercepted all his letters.

The prince learned that once a year his father made a royal visit near the location where he was being held. On the scheduled date of the visit, the prince managed to slip away from his captors, and made his way to the highway on which his father was expected to travel. He soon discovered that the bandits had foreseen this possibility and had built a tall, thick metal wall blocking access to the highway. The sight of the thick wall shattered his spirits even further. Not only would his father not be able to see the prince as he passed by, but he wouldn’t even be able to hear the prince’s cries.

The prince began to grieve, convinced it was all over. Then he recalled that during the glorious days when he still lived securely in the royal palace and had free access to all his father’s treasures, he had once come across a stone with the incredible properties of being able to bring down the most powerful walls. His father had allowed him to pocket the rock, and, unbeknownst to his captors, it was still in his possession.

The thought that the wall would soon no longer be a barrier gave the prince great comfort. As the moment of his father’s arrival approached, the prince struck the wall with this stone — but to his deep disappointment, the stone failed even to make a dent.

A year later, the prince tried again. Holding the stone in his hand, he hit the wall, hoping that it would have its desired effect, again to no avail. His long, difficult days in exile had caused him to forget a crucial detail — that the stone only worked if it was cleaned well, and if its use was accompanied by great humility and much weeping. …

Year after year, the prince tried — and failed — to pierce the wall. One year, as his father passed by, he was overcome with despair. Crying bitterly, shedding copious tears, it was clear that the stone wasn’t working. He sensed that his last hope was lost. Then, shaking with emotion, he struck the wall again. The thick barrier came tumbling down, and he saw his beloved father standing before him.

The prince began to scream uncontrollably, “Father! Father!” The king heard his shouts, saw his beloved son, and with a heart full of compassion, rescued him.

* * *

Like the prince in this parable, we all once merited a special close bond with our Father, Hakadosh Baruch Hu. We too were warned not to distance ourselves from Him, and we disobeyed this warning, with disastrous results.

We too send “letters” in the form of daily tefillos. Tragically, our adversaries successfully manage to distract us and fill our minds with other thoughts during davening. In the process, they block the tefillos from achieving their proper result and reaching their intended destination.

Once a year, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, “visits” us, so to speak. On Rosh Hashanah He awaits us in our shuls to listen to our tefillos, and we in turn flock to shul to pour out our hearts in prayer.

But there, too, our adversaries erect a wall between us and Hashem. Created by our own sins, this wall prevents us from sensing the presence of our King, and blocks our tefillos from being heard.

Yet we have in our possession a priceless “stone” — a segulah that we received on Har Sinai from the King’s Treasury: the sounding of the shofar.

The call of the shofar has the ability to pierce the thick barriers and to bring down the walls that separate us from Hashem. But in order for it to work, it must be blown and listened to with subjugation, with humility, with copious tears and with genuine fright of this Day of Awe. (Adapted from the sefer Arvei Nachal)

* * *

Rosh Hashanah is a day of tears, a day of heartfelt prayer, a day of shattering walls by means of a shofar. It is also a day of joy, as we celebrate the Kingdom of Hashem.

May all of Klal Yisrael merit a kesivah vachasimah tovah, a year of salvation, a year in which we will all see our tefillos — both on a personal and communal level — answered and fulfilled.