The Sixth Beggar
Rebbe Nachman told a number of stories that, aside from their simple understanding, are layered with deep secrets of the Kabbalah. Almost every word and phrase of these mesmerizing tales allude to the mystical teachings.
Perhaps the most enigmatic of all the Rebbe’s stories is “The Seven Beggars.” Through the telling of a story within a story, the Rebbe reveals some of the hidden powers of the Tikkun Haklali.
The tale begins with a young boy and girl lost in a forest. They cry out to Hashem for food, which He sends them by way of some peculiar beggars who are each deformed in some way. For example, the first is blind and the seventh has no feet. In addition to giving the children some bread, each beggar blesses the children to become like the beggar himself, (i.e. they should acquire the beggar’s deformity).
With time the children escape the forest and become successful beggars. Eventually, they marry one another. During their wedding celebration, the young bride and groom remember how Hashem miraculously supported them in the forest. They start to cry and yearn for the first (blind) beggar to come to the celebration. Suddenly he speaks up and says, “Here I am. I have come to your wedding and am gifting you with the blessing I gave you earlier, to be like me. You think I’m blind, but I’m not blind at all. The entire world’s existence is like the blink of an eye to me.” The beggar continues telling a story that shows his eyes are not of this world, and therefore he seems blind. In reality, his vision is far superior to everyone else’s.
On each of the seven days of the wedding celebration, another beggar surprises the couple and gifts them with the same blessing he had given them in the forest. (Rebbe Nachman told his students that he could not yet reveal the story of the seventh day of the wedding celebration).
The Tikkun Haklali is about the sixth beggar, the beggar-with-no-hands.
The story continues:
On the sixth day of the celebrations, the young couple yearns for the beggar-with-no-hands to come to the feast. Suddenly he appears and says, “Here I am. I’ve come to celebrate with you. You think that I have no hands when in fact, my hands are tremendously powerful. But I don’t use the power of my hands in this world since I need it for something else. And I have an endorsement about this from the water castle.”
The beggar continues:
Once, several men were sitting together. Each one boasted of the power he had in his hands. One bragged that the power in his hands was such that when he shoots an arrow, he can draw it back to him. Although he’d already shot the arrow, he could still turn it around and tow it back to him. I asked him, “What kind of arrow can you pull back, for there are ten kinds of arrows with ten kinds of poison?” When the arrow is soaked in one poison, it causes a specific injury, but when it’s soaked in another poison it does even more damage. There are ten types of poison, each one more harmful than the next.
So I asked him, “What kind of arrow can you pull back?” I also asked him whether he could pull back the arrow only before it hits the target, or whether he could pull it back even after it hits the target. He answered, "Even after the arrow strikes the target, I can still pull it back. But I can only pull back one type of arrow.” I said to him, “If you can only pull back one type of arrow, then you can’t heal the princess.” (Continue reading for more about the princess).
Another man boasted of his hands’ power. He said that his power was so deep that when he received something from someone, he was actually giving to that person. This made him a master of charity.
I asked him, "What kind of charity do you give, for there are ten kinds of charity?" He replied that he only gives a tithe.
I said to him, "If so, you can’t heal the princess, because you won’t be able to reach her. If you only give a tithe, then you can only enter through one of the ten walls in the place where she’s dwelling.” The story continued with two more men who boasted of their powers. One had the power to seize winds and the other to bestow wisdom. These powers were related to playing melodies and knowing the pulse-beats. But again, they were only able to restrain one of the ten types of wind or bestow one of the ten types of wisdom. “The men asked me,” said the beggar-with-no-hands, "What can you do?" I replied, "Of each thing that you boasted, I can do plus the other nine parts, which none of you can do.”
Now, the story of the princess:
Once upon a time, a king coveted a certain princess. He schemed to capture her, which eventually he did. A short time after, the king dreamed that the princess stood over him and killed him. He awoke sharply and was deeply affected by the dream. All the king’s advisors interpreted the dream according to its simple meaning, that the princess would indeed kill him. The king didn’t know what to do with her. To kill her would cause him too much pain. And he couldn’t bear to send her away for fear that another man would take her. Yet he feared that she would kill him if he kept her.
Meanwhile, the dream caused the king’s love for the princess to dissipate. And the princess’ love for the king also diminished until she hated him and fled. The king sent his men to search for the princess until they found her outside a castle made entirely of water. The water castle was made of ten walls of water, one inside the other. Also the ground inside the castle, and the garden – with its fruits and trees – were all made of water. Obviously, this castle was exquisitely beautiful and novel. Entering the castle seemed impossible, for one would surely drown. The soldiers told the king that the princess had reached the castle and was circling it.
The king and his soldiers went to catch her. When the princess saw them she ran into the castle, preferring to drown than to be with the king. Yet, she hoped she could slip into the water castle and be saved.
When the king saw her running into the water, he ordered his men to shoot her, accepting that she may die. They shot her and all the ten types of arrows, smeared with the ten types of poisons, struck her. She ran into the water castle, passing through all ten walls of water, then fell and fainted when she reached the interior. The king and his soldiers chased the princess into the castle and drowned in the water.
At this point, the beggar-with-no-hands said, “I heal the princess. My hands have all the ten types of charity, so I penetrate the ten walls of the water castle without drowning. Once I enter the interior of the castle I know all the ten pulses of the princess, with the ten types of wisdom. Then I can draw back all ten types of arrows from her, even after they strike her. I sing the ten melodies for her and I heal the princess.” The beggar concluded, “This is the power of my hands. They have the power to heal the princess. Today I give you, young bride and groom, this power as a gift.” There was a great celebration and everyone was ecstatic.
As mentioned earlier, Rebbe Nachman’s stories are layered with enormous meaning. They are like the Holy of Holies. Nobody can fully comprehend these stories, but some of his students have left us clues about their deeper meaning.
If we sin, God forbid, we create walls between our souls (the princess) and Hashem. These walls make us sad. Different types of sadness stem from different sins, alluded to in the ten poisons of the ten arrows. As Rebbe Nachman often taught, someone who is sad cannot serve Hashem properly. So the Rebbe revealed that the ten types of song (Ashrei, Bracha, Maskil, Shir, Nitzuach, Niggun, Tefilla, Hoda-ah, Mizmor, Halleluyah – Rashi, Psalms 1:1) found in these specific ten chapters of Psalms, have the power to remove the poisonous arrows from our souls. By singing these ten songs and connecting ourselves to the Tzaddik, (the sixth beggar-with-no-hands), we can penetrate all the walls of sadness and remove the poisonous arrows of sin, to heal the princess and return joy to our souls.
The numerical value of Tehillim (תהילים) is 485. Tehillim accesses power from two names of Hashem, אל אלהים, which when spelled out as follows: Alef Lamed, Alef Lamed Hei Yud Mem which also equals 485. The power of Tehillim, and of these two names of Hashem, is the power of song and happiness. This force can overpower the demon of sadness, known as Lilith (לילית) also numerically a total of 485, after adding the five letters in the word itself.
May it be Hashem’s will that by singing King David’s ten songs of happiness, as revealed by the great Tzaddik, Rebbe Nachman from Breslov, (the beggar-with-no-hands), we should merit to overcome all personal and communal sadness and have a complete remedy, a Tikkun Haklali.