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254 * Song of Songs 6:10. 36 The Astrologer-King and the Rabbi T O L D B Y A H A R O N B E N AV R A H A M M I Z R A H I T O M O S H E AT T I A S Once there was a great king, who loved truth and pursued justice. He ruled over his country with love and mercy. His people loved him greatly, for they esteemed his goodness of heart and beneficent deeds. His wife was as radiant as the sun and as clear as the moon,* and he loved her with all his heart. The king tended to the affairs of his people and kingdom with great devotion, but he also loved wisdom and knowledge. He was particularly fond of astronomy and astrology. Night after night, he would sit up to observe the stars, hoping to solve the riddles of the past and unveil the secrets of the future. One day, the king was seized with curiosity to find a man who had been born on the same day and hour as himself. He spent many sleepless nights in the observatory he had built in his palace searching and inquiring to find an answer to this question. Eventually his quest led him to a famous rabbi who lived in one of the remote cities of his kingdom. This was the man who had been born on the very same day and at the very same hour as the king. The discovery astonished him: How could it be that it was a Jew, a rabbi, who had the merit of being born under the same star as a great king, the ruler of a large and extensive kingdom?! But if fate had so decreed, the king told himself, “Let me see this rabbi with my own eyes, converse with him face to face, and see if he really is worthy to have been born in the same hour as I was.” The king summoned his ministers. “I have decided to go on a long tour of my kingdom,” he told them, “and listen to my people’s heartfelt desires . I leave you in charge of the kingdom during my absence. I will be traveling incognito. No one must know that I have gone away.” Disguising himself as a merchant, the king traveled through towns and villages, crossed streams and forded rivers. After journeying for many 36 / The Astrologer-King and the Rabbi  255  days, he reached the city where the rabbi lived, as he had seen in the stars. Passers-by showed him the rabbi’s home. He knocked on the door. The rabbi’s wife opened it. “What can I do for you, sir?” she asked cordially. “I would like to see the rabbi,” replied the king. “I’m sorry, the rabbi isn’t home just now,” replied his wife. “But he will come back for lunch. If you wish, come inside and sit and wait for him. Or you can go elsewhere and come back at noon. Whichever you prefer.” “I’ll wait for him,” said the king, “since I’m a stranger in this town.” The rabbi’s wife took a chair into the garden. The king sat down and waited for the rabbi’s return. Precisely at noon, the gate opened and the rabbi entered. When he saw the stranger sitting in the garden he came over to him. His expression altered at once. Wide-eyed, he bowed to his guest. “Your Majesty, how have I merited to have you come to my house? Speak your wish, and I will fulfill it.” “Don’t call me ‘Your Majesty.’ I’m no king. I am a simple person like yourself. Any resemblance you find between me and the king is misleading .” “Do not say that you are a simple person, Your Majesty. Your identity is as clear as the sun at noon. Please enter my house so I can honor you as befits a king.” This time the king kept silent. He stood up and entered the rabbi’s house, where he enjoyed a fine meal. Afterward he asked the rabbi what day he was born on and about his studies and work. The king discussed science and politics with the rabbi and discovered that the spirit of God was in him* and that he was blessed with knowledge and insight. He was pleased that such a man had been born...


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