Jewish Bedtime Story Co-op

Based on a tale of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, as recorded by his disciple, Rabbi Nathan of Nemerov

Once upon a time there was a Jewish man named Avi, who was a minister to the Sultan of the Turkish Empire. The Sultan liked Avi more than his other ministers, and would invite him to the palace every day of the week to talk, discuss matters of state, and just spend time.

The other royal ministers grew jealous of the relationship that Avi had with the Sultan. They thought up plots to denounce Avi to the Sultan, get him in trouble, and break up the friendship

One of the royal ministers was a Pasha. His name was Kaptzin Pasha, and he had his own small palace and servants. The Pasha disliked Avi so much that the dislike grew into hate. When he was with Avi, the Pasha behaved like a close friend, speaking and joking with him. But every evening, the Pasha would return home and think of ways to break up the friendship between the Sultan and Avi, the Jew.

One day the Pasha said to Avi, "I was with the Sultan, and I heard him say that he liked you very much. There is, however, one thing that bothers him. He says that you have bad breath. My advice is that when you come to the Sultan you should place a perfumed handkerchief over your mouth. This will cover up your bad breath, so that it will not upset the Sultan."

Avi believed that the pasha was trying to help him. Avi accepted the Pasha's advice

The Pasha then went to the Sultan and said, "I hear that Avi, your Jewish friend, thinks that, you, the Sultan has bad breath. He therefore plans to put a perfumed handkerchief near his nose whenever he has to speak with you, so that he does not have to smell your bad breath."

The Sultan did not believe the Pasha, so the Pasha said, "If you don't believe me, just watch how Avi acts tomorrow. You will see that he uses a perfumed handkershief over his mouth and nose."

The Sultan became angry and shouted, "If this is true, I will cut off my friendship with him."

The next day, when Avi came to the Sultan, Avi placed a perfumed handkerchief over his mouth, just as the Pasha told him to do.

When the Sultan saw that, he discovered that the Pasha had been telling the truth.

The Sultan wrote a note that said, "When the bearer of this note arrives, immediately throw him into prison." The Sultan then placed this note into an envelope and sealed it with his signet ring and wax. The Sultan asked Avi, "Please do me a favor and deliver this note to the man whose address is written on the envelope."

Avi took the letter. He did not know what the Sultan had written on the note. He was a very good friend and promised the Sultan that he would deliver the note as requested.

On his way to deliver the letter, however, a friend approached Avi. He told Avi that he needed help fulfilling a mitzvah, a good deed. Avi always liked to do mitvah's (mitzvot) and was always ready to help. But Avi thought, "How can I deliver this letter for the Sultan and also help my friend perform a special mitzvah?"

Just then, the Kaptzin Pasha walked by. Avi told the Pasha that he had been with the Sultan, and that the Sultan had given him an important letter to deliver. But now Avi had to help his friend perform an urgent mitzvah. "Therefore," Avi said, "I am asking you to do me a favor. Please, if you don't mind, take and deliver this letter for the Sultan."

The Pasha was extremely happy. Now, the Pasha thought, he could deliver the letter, and then tell the Sultan how Avi did not deliver the letter as he had been asked to do. The Pasha took the letter and delivered it. The recipient of the letter was in charge of the prisons. He read the letter, (which said "throw this person into prison") and threw the Pasha into prison.

The next day, Avi returned to the palace for his daily meeting with the Sultan. Avi did not know that the Pasha had been thrown into jail. When the Sultan saw Avi, he was surprised. "Didn't you deliver the letter that I gave you?" the Sultan asked Avi.

Avi replied, "Your Majesty, I gave the letter to Kaptzin Pasha to deliver. God gave me the opportunity to perform a mitzvah, and it is my custom to not pass over a mitzvah opportunity when it arises." The Sultan then figured out that there was a reason that the Pasha had been thrown into prison, and that it was because the Pasha had lied about Avi and tried to break up their friendship.

The Sultan asked Avi, "Why do you hold a perfumed handkerchief over your mouth when you speak to me?"

"The Pasha advised me to," Avi replied. "He told me that you said that you could not stand my bad breath."

The Sultan then told Avi how the Pasha had tried to break apart their friendship.

The Sultan said, "Kaptzin Pasha said it was you who could not stand my bad breath, and that is why you were putting the perfumed handkerchief over your mouth."

The Sultan then revealed to Avi the contents of the letter. He said, "Now I know that God has power over the world, and that God saved you from the Pasha's evil. What the Pasha wanted to do to you was done to him, just like in the story of Purim. He got what he deserved."

Avi became even better friends with The Sultan, and the Turkish Empire flourished. -- Revised: July 1999
Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Acquired in August 1999.

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