Photo Credit:
Photo from the movie, “Stories of Rebbe Nachman,” Yehuda Barkan as the unhappy king

Today, Daniel says that his whole yeridah to America was Divinely inspired in order to find me and bring me up from under the table, to return me to being a son of the King, the true identity of every Jew – so that I could use the writing and filmmaking skills I learned in my personal galut to write novels like “Tuvia in the Promised Land” and movies like the “Stories of Rebbe Nachman.” Daniel himself has returned to the King’s table after his own exile and wanderings under the table in Hollywood and New York. In its broadest sense, “The Indyk” is a metaphor for all of the Jewish People, in our wanderings under the table in foreign lands, exiled from the table of the King, pretending to be Frenchmen and Germans and Americans and other foreign, turkey-like roles, dependent on the crumbs that our foreign masters scattered under the table. Needless to say, in Rebbe Nachman’s mystical world, the son of the king is also the Shechinah which has fallen into the dust, waiting for the Nation of Israel to redeem her. And in a more universal sense, the “ben melech” is all of mankind. The gentile sages fail, one after the other, to heal the prince, the Magician, the Philosopher, the Psychologist, the Physician, for it is only Am Yisrael, symbolized by the Jewish sage, who can bring the true tikun and healing to the world.

Of course, on an everyday level, the story of the king’s son is the story of parents and their “unruly” children, the ones who act, in our eyes, like wild turkeys, who throw off their kippot, and go down “under the table,” preferring to hang out with “heverim” instead of acting the way we want them to act. What is the proper way to lure them back to the table? To get down on them? Or to get down to where they’re at, on their level, not by acting like them, but by understanding their rebellion, seeing their good points, and accepting and loving them for whom they are? Then, gradually, with faith, prayer, and G-d’s help, to guide them back to sit at the table as true sons and daughters of the King.


The next story in the movie is the equally famous story of the peasant who dreams of a great treasure buried under a bridge near Vienna. I chose this little story, not only for its beautiful scenery, which we filmed in England – in order to give the film a background of forests and mountain streams – but because of the story’s universal message. At the end of this simple tale, after the peasant discovers that the treasure was buried, not far away in Vienna, but right in his own home all along, Rebbe Nachman teaches that everyone has the treasure of G-d and Torah within them, but frequently the seeker has to travel a great distance to find the right person who can help him discover the treasure within himself. For Rebbe Nachman, the person is the Tzaddik, but many different people in our lives can be the guide we need to discover the treasure. For some people, it’s a parent, or an older brother, or a teacher, or a psychologist, or a basketball coach. As the Gemara explains, a prisoner cannot free himself from prison. He needs the help of someone on the outside. In the book, “Mesillat Yesharim,” this role is explained by the metaphor of the sage who looks down on a maze of hedges from his high perspective. Because he has already found the right path, and can see the dead ends, he can instruct the seeker in the proper way. This is how I escaped the “Matrix” of my youth, lost in the darkness and “choshech mamash” of Hollywood, when I was madly pursuing the American dream of fortune and fame, not realizing that the real treasure was within me, deep in my holy Jewish soul. I merited to discover this indescribable wealth by listening to my friend, Daniel, and other holy mentors along the way, trusting their guidance and advice, even when I didn’t yet understand what they were teaching.

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Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" The DVD of the movie is available online.