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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777
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The Meaning Of Hunger

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And when the King had finished eating the fish, the servant then placed a dish of fish before Bavsi.

Overjoyed, Bavsi made an eager move toward the fish before him, but at that very moment, another servant snatched it from him and carried it to the kitchen.

Bavsi was on the verge of saying something, when he suddenly recalled the instructions the chamberlain had given him, and he kept his peace.

A servant then brought the King a fine broth in a golden bowl. The King drank the broth with relish while Bavsi waited impatiently to be served in turn. When the King finished his soup, the servant, as in the instance of the fish, also brought Bavsi a golden bowl of soup. But no sooner did he make a movement with his hand towards it, when another servant snatched it from him. The same happened with the roast and with the other courses.

Bavsi was beside himself with hunger and indignation. He cast looks of hatred at the servants, but he had to remain mute and smiling as he sat facing the King.

To the hungry Bavsi it seemed as if the meal would never come to an end.

“I hope you are enjoying your supper,” King Solomon remarked politely.

“I am indeed, O King! Everything is delicious,” the unhappy Bavsi answered.

“I am delighted to hear that,” said the King.

“The food has the taste of paradise in it,” said Bavsi with enthusiasm, recalling further the chamberlain’s instructions.


Detained Overnight

When the meal was over, Bavsi, faint with hunger, arose, anxious to make his departure. But the King held him back.

“Don’t go, my friend!” he said. “Do not part from me so fast. The night is still young. I’ve commanded the musicians to regale us with fine music!”

Reluctantly, Bavsi remained.

The musicians entered and played wondrously upon their instruments. But the music only annoyed Bavsi, for he could think of nothing but food.

After the musicians had finished, Bavsi once again rose to go.

“Don’t go, my friend,” said Shlomo HaMelech.  “The hour is too late for you to go home. Sleep this night in the palace.”

Bavsi knew that every word of the King’s was a command, so he remained.  He did not sleep all night because of the pangs of hunger.  Angrily he began to reflect on the possible meaning of the King’s conduct.

“Why did he invite me to a supper at which I was not allowed to eat?” he asked himself.


The Truth Dawns On Him

Suddenly it dawned on him that the King had only meant to teach him an object lesson in hunger.

Now, by means of his own experience, he understood the torment of need.  He, the wealthy Bavsi, the well-fed one, who had always despised the poor and had laughed at them when they cried that they were hungry.

The lesson had such a profound impression upon him that from that day onward he changed his ways and he became a different person.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

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