The King is Not to Blame: A Parable

Guards approached the king of a foreign land. The King was attending his personal garden, admiring its beauty and growth, and felt the intrusive guards a bother.

“Oh dear King,” beseeched the guards, “foreign troops have just appeared on the horizon.”

“How many?” asked the King, for he hoped the threat to be minimal, as he was busy attending to his own garden and preferred not to be bothered.

“Just a few,” oh Glorious One, replied the guards, for they knew difficult news would be better received with flattery. “But we are quite certain, your Majesty, that many more follow, and these are but the advance guard.”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” said the king without raising his head, for all he needed to know was his own version of events, for he knew himself to be a genius in need of nothing beyond his own wishful thinking and self-regard. “No, it’s simply a passing event, and not a deadly attack at all. You are being foolish. Now be gone with you.”

And on the King’s command, the guards disappeared, knowing their surveillance on the Kingdom's walls for years gave them superior insight, and fearing the threat to their people with all of their hearts and souls.

As the strength of the obvious invasion grew, the guards called and informed the Ranking Ministers, hoping they might procure the King’s attention.

“Oh Ministers,” they proclaimed, “foreign troops gather on our border and we fear an imminent attack.” “How many?” asked the Ministers, for they were prudent advisers to the King, each skilled and trained with a long history in concerns of the Kingdom.

“At the moment they are manageable, sires; but we fear there are many more about to gather."

So the ministers, heeding the responsibilty of their high and exalted offices, went to visit the King.

“Oh Exalted One,” they beseeched with flattery, for they too knew that bad news would never be received with calm deliberation and prudence, “Foreign troops gather on our periphery. We, your trusted Ministers, skilled in the crafts of defense, advise it would be prudent to defend your Kingdom, Sire and Great One.”

“Do we have sufficient armaments in the storehouses to defend the people of the Kingdom?” asked the King, for he knew his responsibility to his people might demand serious considerations.

“No, Sire, we possess insufficient reserves to defend us all. But, Sire, the good news is that we will certainly protect you and your family, and perhaps ourselves as well.”

“Ah,” replied the King. “Then call the governors of the provinces, and inform them of the attack, and that they will need to prepare the people to defend themselves.”

“But Sire,” said the Ministers, “Neither the people nor their governors have the means. Only you, Dearest Glorious One, hold the keys to the Nation’s Treasury.”

“Be off with you,” said the King, “they call themselves leaders, let them lead.”

“As for the people,” asked the inquisitive Ministers, “Unprepared for an attack, many will die, oh Glorious Sovereign.”

“Will they blame me?” inquired the sometimes curious King, “whom will they blame?”

“Many of your people love you dearly, O Lord, surely those would never blame even their death upon you, not if you tell them you are not at fault.”

Then some of the Advisors spoke up, and knowing it would please the King said, "And those who hate you, the Blues, should die anyway, should they not?"

"Yes, most certainly," smiled the King wryly. "For they are disloyal to their King, and they do not fear me or honor me."

“Then be gone with you,” ordered the King, now showing signs of anger. “This is certainly overblown, and if I will not be blamed, what concern is it to me? Just be certain there will be no panic.”

“Certainly, My Lord,” cried the Ministers, “but the people?”

“Tell them, but for their Glorious King, many more would have died in pain and anguish. Their King has saved them.”

“Yes, My Lord,” and the Ministers departed, shaking their heads.

And many of the people wondered, and huddled in their shelters, and murmured among themselves, and hugged their families, but beyond that, they remained idle, for indeed, the King had spoken, and what, therefore, could they do but wait and hope?

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© 2016 by Rabbi Mark H. Levin.