Kate Farrell (author of Story Power) shares a traditional Jewish fable in honor of the Jewish High Holidays to come.
The Maggid of Dubno was known for his parables. Whenever someone asked him a question, he would always answer with a story.
One day a student was walking with the Maggid of Dubno and asked him, “Rabbi, I have many imperfections, so many faults. How can I change them so I become a better person?”
The Maggid said, “Listen and I’ll tell you a story.”
Once there was a king who owned one of the most splendid diamonds in the world. He was very proud of that flawless diamond and showed it off to all his visiting dignitaries.
However, one day, the king noticed that the diamond had developed a flaw. There was a deep scratch in this precious diamond. He immediately called for the finest diamond cutters in the kingdom to come to the palace. “You are artists in your work. What can any of you do to return the diamond to the way it was?” asked the king.
None of the diamond experts could promise that the diamond would ever be restored to its original perfection. But one young man who had just completed his apprenticeship with the greatest of the diamond artisans said to the king, “You majesty, while it is not possible to restore this diamond, as the other diamond cutters have already told you, nevertheless I would be willing to undertake the responsibility to create a beautiful diamond out of this blemish.”
The king had no other hope and so he gave his consent to this young man.
The young man worked hard but in secrecy. Then when he had finished his work, he presented the diamond to the king. When the king looked at it, he smiled with great satisfaction. Instead of seeing the scratch in the diamond as a blemish, the young diamond cutter had seen it as the stem of a rose. Then he cut the roots, the flower and the leaves onto the stem. In this way, he transformed the scratch in the diamond into a mark of beauty. The diamond with its rose engraving became the most original and magnificent stone in the entire kingdom – more precious to the king than before.
The Maggid then turned to his student and said, “Just like the diamond with the scratch, we all have faults and blemishes. But it’s up to us to transform them into something of beauty and value.”
The Maggid of Dubno and his student continued on their walk.
Sometimes we need to change the way we look at an imperfection and transform it into something more positive and interesting.
Sources: This story is adapted from “The Sound of the Shofar” in Heinemann’s The Maggid of Dubno and his parables, pp. 193-194. Another version, “The Blemish on the Diamond,” is in Ausubel’s A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, p. 66 which was based on the Parables of the Preacher of Dubno.
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