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Late that night the seven sons finally came to visit. “Why didn’t any of you check up on me and why do you look so sad?”  The priests unburdened themselves, telling their father about the king’s decree and the death penalty that would be meted out to them and their friends the next day.  The old man had a spark in his voice as he cried out to his sons, “Take me to the palace tomorrow.  I know the secret of the grasses. I can save you!”

The next day the seven priests took their father to the palace.  The old man stood before the dictator and triumphantly explained, “Your Highness, please listen.  One of the ancient kings, a fourth-generation descendant of Eliphaz, the son of Esav, gathered together six hundred thousand types of grass to correspond to the six hundred thousand Jews who left Egypt. He performed a magic spell on them and as long as the grass remains moist, the Jews will exist in this world.  However, if the blades of grass dry up, the Jewish nation will cease to exist.   And now, I will reveal to your Majesty an invaluable secret!   If you can get Jews to perform their Passover service [Seder] over this golden treasure chest, a creature will come forth who will successfully destroy all the Jews. 


The old man’s advice was most pleasing to the king.  He hated the Jews passionately and was excited at the prospect of bringing about their total annihilation.  He formulated a scheme to destroy them.

First, he called expert craftsmen to the palace and ordered them to make an exact replica of the golden treasure chest.  When he was satisfied that the imitation was perfect, he had it filled with all kinds of gems, pearls and talents of gold.

The king knew that the Jewish holiday of Pesach was approaching, so he put the second stage of his plan into place.  He ordered that both caskets be placed in his royal coach; the ancient one was carefully camouflaged, while the replica filled with gems and gold was visible.  Then the king ordered his coach and a group of soldiers to accompany him to the Ghetto of Rome.

All eyes turned in quiet trepidation as the royal coach made its way to the home of the Ghetto’s rav.  It was with fearful curiosity that some of the Jews ventured close to the rav’s humble home and observed the King descend from his coach and demand to speak with the rav.

The rav bowed with great reverence towards the king, while inside his neshama humbled itself before the King of Kings and beseeched His mercy.   What did this new king, no great lover of Jews, want from him and his kehilah?   The king spoke in an almost friendly and innocent tone.  “I know well that my subjects are not trustworthy.   My heart warns me that perhaps some will rebel against me and rob me of my personal riches.   Therefore, I have filled a treasure chest with much of my personal wealth and I ask that you, dear Rabbi, guard it for me.  I caution you to protect it with your very being.  You shall eat, drink and sleep over the chest so that your attention will be focused on it constantly!  When the day comes that I ask you to return it to me, you shall do so!”  There was no choice for the rav. He hoped that the king’s trust in him would bode well for his kehilah and for his fellow Jews elsewhere.


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