The Golden Mountain, by Meyer Levin, , at sacred-texts.com
There was a king who had no children, and he was greatly troubled with thought that after his death his kingdom would pass into the hands of strangers. So he called to him all the physicians and all the magicians of his realm, and commanded them to make use of their learning and of their magic, that a prince might be born to the royal family. But they were of no help to him.
At last in despair he turned upon the Jews who lived in his kingdom, for, he said, "I have heard that among the Jews there are secret saints whose prayers can bring whatever is in the heavens down on earth." So he commanded the Jews to bring one of these saints to the palace.
In each generation there are thirty-six men whose virtue bears up the world; they live unknown among other men, and they are called hidden Tsadikim. When the king commanded that one of them be brought to the palace, the Jews did not know where to turn, but one man went up to another, asking, "Might you be one of the secret Tsadikim?"
There was a shoe-maker in a village; he lived quietly, earning bread for himself and his family, working each day, but resting on Sabbath. Then all the people in the village bethought themselves that they had never known him to do any wrong, and they said to one another, "He must be a secret Tsadik!" But when they came to him and asked him, he only said, "I don't know anything about it. I am a shoe-maker." Still, the word went from one village to another, and
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at last it came to the king that in a certain village there lived a shoe-maker who was really a hidden Tsadik, but who said he knew nothing about it.
The king commanded that the man be brought before him, and when the Tsadik stood in the palace, the king spoke to him in a friendly way, saying, "You know that all your people are in my power, and I can do good or ill to them as I please. Therefore I ask you in a friendly way to pray that my queen may have a child."
The Tsadik went into a little room and spoke to God. Then he returned to the king. "Within a year," the Tsadik said, "a child will be born to the queen." And he went home to his village, and made shoes.
Before the year had passed, the queen gave birth to a daughter. The little girl was so beautiful that whoever looked once upon her never ceased wondering at her loveliness; and she was so clever that when she was four years old she could play music upon many instruments, and speak all the languages of mankind. Emperors and sages came from distant lands to look upon and speak with the child.
At first the king was happy with his daughter, but then he grew discontented, for he wanted a son to rule after him, in order that his kingdom might not fall into strange hands. So he commanded that the secret Tsadik should again be brought before him.
But when the king's messenger went to seek out the Tsadik, he was told that the man had died.
The king said, "Let the Jews find another Tsadik!" So the Jews asked of one another, and sought amongst themselves, until they found another of the thirty-six secret Tsadikim, and they told the king where he was,
and the king sent for him and said to him in a friendly way, "If you do not help me, remember that your people are in my power."
Then the Tsadik answered, "I will help you, if you will give me what I ask."
"I will give half of my possessions for a son!" the king cried.
"Then," said the Tsadik, "you must bring me precious stones, for in every jewel there is a quality of good, and the secret virtues of the jewels are written in the angel's book. Bring me every kind of precious stone, for I have need of them all."
The king commanded that jewels be brought. And from all parts of the world there were brought to him the largest and purest of precious stones: a diamond as radiant as a falling star, a pearl as white as an infant's smile, a ruby deep as a friendly eye, and sapphire, agate, carbuncle, and opal stones. These the king gave to the Tsadik who took them and crushed them into a powder; the powder he poured into a goblet of wine. Then he gave half of the wine to the king to drink, and the queen drank the other half.
"You will have a son," said the Tsadik, "who will be made entirely of precious stones, and who will have all the virtues of all the jewels in the world." Then he went home.
A son was born to the queen.
Now the king was completely happy, for he had a son to reign after him. And though the child appeared to be made like all other children, and not made of precious stones as the Tsadik had predicted, the king was satisfied, for the boy was even more beautiful than his sister, and he too was able to speak all the languages
of mankind when he was four years old, and he knew besides all the wisdom of the world, so that rulers came from far places to ask advice of him.
But when the little girl saw the emperors and sages coming to court to seek her younger brother, and no longer for her sake, and when she heard the beauty and the wisdom of her brother constantly praised, while she was forgotten, she became jealous of her brother. Only one thing pleased her. "They said he would be made entirely of precious stones," she remembered, "but he is made like all of us."
One day as he was carving wood with a sharp knife, the prince cut his finger. His sister ran to bind up his finger, but as she looked into the wound she saw a gleaming sapphire there.
Then her jealousy turned to hatred, and she thought only of how she could be revenged upon her brother.
There was consternation in the palace because of the prince's injury, and when the princess saw how the king was troubled, and the people anxious, and the servants ran everywhere, she thought, "I too will be ill, and then they will remember me!" So she pretended to be sick.
Physicians were sent to her, but they could not find out the cause of her illness; at last the magicians were called, but none of the magicians could help her. She lay in her bed, and thought with hatred of her brother, and how he was indeed made of precious stones, and her jealousy gave her no rest. Then the sorcerer who was the most cunning of all the king's magicians came to the little girl, and as soon as he saw her he said, "You are not ill, but are only pretending
illness!" She looked into his wicked eyes, and they were like two hard stones pressing upon her. Then she told the sorcerer the truth.
"I am not ill," she said, "but I cannot bear my brother's beauty; he is so beautiful that no one any longer remembers me." Then the princess begged the wizard, "Tell me," she cried, "is there no way to bewitch a person, so that all his body will become covered with itching sores?"
"There is a way," the wizard said. "I can make a charm against him."
But the clever little princess thought, "What if another magician should come, and break your charm? Then my brother will be beautiful again."
"If the charm is buried in water," the sorcerer replied, "it can never again be broken."
So they made an evil charm against the prince, and they bound their sorcery in a silken cloth and threw it into a deep pool where it could never again be found.
Then the prince's tender skin became red, and broke; sores appeared on his face and hands, and there were itching and leprous sores all over his body.
The king was terrified, the entire kingdom was in mourning because of the loathsome disease that had come upon the beautiful prince. Every physician and every sage hurried to the palace to try to heal the suffering boy. They covered him with balm and with ointments, but the sores remained upon him, and he tore at his loathsome skin.
The physicians said, "He cannot be cured."
Then the king cried, "It is the Jews who have brought this thing upon me!" and he commanded
that the Jews cause the boy to be healed of his sores.
Once more the Jews sought amongst themselves for a secret Tsadik. And they found that Tsadik who had brought about the birth of the prince, and he was brought again to the palace.
"See what you have done!" the king cried. "You promised me a son who would be made entirely of precious stones, and instead he is covered with sores."
"Let me go into a little room where I may be alone," said the Tsadik. Then he went into a tiny chamber, and closed the door, and stood alone and spoke to God.
"It was not to bring glory upon myself that I did this thing," said the Tsadik, "but it was for the glory of your Name that I said that a child would be born, all made of precious stones. And now, see how my words have been fulfilled; the boy is covered with sores."
Then the truth was revealed to the Tsadik, for he knew that nothing happened without reason, and that the depths of loathsome sin must be felt before the heights of purest beauty may be known. And he came out and said to the king, "A sorcerer has made a charm against the prince, to cover him with evil. The charm has been buried in water, so that it may not be destroyed."
The king was terrified, for he thought that the prince would never be well again. "Is there nothing that can be done?" he begged. "Is there no magician more powerful than the evil one who has done this thing?"
"Since the charm has been buried in water," the Tsadik said, "there is only one way in which it can
be broken. The magician who made the charm must be found, and he also must be thrown into the water."
"Take all the magicians of my kingdom," cried the king, "and throw them into the sea! If only my son will be well!"
Then he issued a decree that on the very next day every wizard, sorcerer, and magician in his realm should be thrown into the water.
When the princess heard this decree, her guilt made her afraid, for she thought, "Now the charm will be found out, and they will know that I have done this thing to my brother." So she ran to the pond, to take the charm out of the water before anyone else would find it there. But as the Princess leaned far over the pond seeking for the evil charm, she fell into the water herself, and she sank to the bottom of the deep pool.
Then the servants hurried through the palace crying, "The princess has fallen into the pool!" and there was crying and wailing everywhere.
But when the Tsadik heard them he only smiled and said, "Now the prince will be well."
And so it was as he said. The sores upon the body of the prince began to close, and to dry up, and to fall away. And as the wounds fell away, the sickly skin became dry and hard, and it slipped from him as a cloud from the face of the sun; then the prince stood healed and shining before them, and their eyes were scarcely strong enough to look upon the dazzling brilliance of the boy, for now anyone might see that the prince was indeed made entirely of precious stones.
And he had all the virtues of all the jewels in the world.