There was once a king who lived in a big palace with his daughter the princess. The princess grew up with the best of everything, servants, education, clothing and shoes of course to match all of her dresses. The princess was very beautiful and kind and as she was growing up the king thought about who he could find who would be a suitable match, husband, for his precious daughter.
He told his servants to begin the search for the right groom. Days and months went by and several young men approached the palace hoping to find favor in the eyes of the king; however, no one, in the king’s opinion was good enough for his precious daughter. Finally, one day the daughter approached her father and said, “Tate, I know that you have tried your best to find my future husband and your intentions are all good and honest; however, you have been unsuccessful. It is now time for me to make the effort and to go out from the palace and find my own bashert.”
Of course her father, the king, was completely against the idea of his daughter leaving the palace on her own and going into the world to find herself a husband! However, he had never said no to his daughter and he felt that, in some way she had been correct in saying that he had not been successful in finding her true love. So, with much sadness and worry he agreed to let her go but insisted that one of his soldiers would follow her, discreetly (not too close so no one would notice that he was following her) wherever she would go.
The princess changed her clothes to those of the common people, packed a small bag and left the castle on foot. After walking for several hours she came to a small village and knocked on the door of an inn where she requested a room to stay in overnight. The innkeeper looked at her coolly, (remember she was wearing the clothes of a peasant, common poor person) and told her that he had no room for her at his inn. She approached another inn in the village and was told they too had no space for her to stay overnight.
What could she do? It was too late to return to the palace and she also didn’t want to go back to her father until she had found her future husband and there was no room in the two inns in the town. She decided to sleep in the forest knowing that there was a soldier from her father’s army following close to her and he would guard her at night while she slept.
That night, while the princess was sleeping in the forest she had a dream. In her dream a young man approached her. He was walking with a stick and he had a very bad limp. One of his legs was shorter than the other. The young man was smiling and the princess saw his kind face and was not afraid. When he was close enough to speak to her he said, “It is written in heaven that I have been chosen to be your husband. You and I are meant to be together to love and support each other in this world.” When the princess woke up she felt so happy and felt that even though this was the first time she had been away from home and she had been a little afraid about being on her own, that everything was going to be alright.
So that morning, the princess (her name is Sura) went back to the second inn to buy some breakfast. There she learned that they were looking for someone to work as a maid, cleaning the rooms and helping in the kitchen. Sura said that she would take the work if they would give her her own room to sleep in and all the food she could eat. They agreed and she began working that day. Now, you might ask, how does a princess who grew up in a castle know how to clean rooms and cook in a kitchen? Well Sura was cared for by one of her Mother’s (the queen) special servants while her mother was busy doing the queen’s work. That servant taught Sura how to clean rooms and even how to cook some things. Also, Sura was very smart and learned how to do new things very quickly! For many days Sura lived in the inn and worked very hard. The people all liked her because she was kind and did everything she could to help people.
In the village lived a young man named Menachem. Menachem was a milkman. He had two cows that he would milk each day, put the milk in cans, load them onto his cart, tie his horse to the cart and go around the village each morning delivering milk to his customers. Menachem was always in a good mood, singing as he traveled from place to place and speaking kindly to people on the way. Some people were a little afraid of Menachem because he had one leg shorter than the other and walked with a very bad limp. It is that way with people sometimes that they are afraid of something that is different. But Menachem understood and did not get angry or feel sad because he knew that what was inside his heart was what is most important and that someday someone would love him for his kindness and not think that he was not good because there was a problem with his leg.
One day Menachem approached the inn thinking that perhaps he could sell them some of his milk. He tied his horse up to the post and walked in. There he waited until a very pretty young woman asked if she could help him. The pretty young woman is our Sura and she looked at Menachem and thought that she recognized him from somewhere but she could not remember where. Menachem told her that he was a milkman and thought that perhaps there is someone at the inn who would want to buy his milk. The young woman said that she would ask the innkeeper.
Meanwhile, the king in the palace was missing his daughter more and more. He sent for his servant and told him to go to the place where his daughter was staying (he knew because the soldier who was watching her reporting to him where she was and what she was doing). The king could not bear to be separated from his daughter and to know that she was doing the common work of a maid and a cook. “Enough time has passed”, said the king, “and she must return home, at least for a visit and to talk.” So the servant went to bring the princess back to the castle.
The servant arrived at the inn at the very moment that Menachem was waiting for the young woman to ask the innkeeper if he wanted to buy some of his milk. When the young woman returned she recognized the king’s servant, who spoke to her privately, and told her that her father, the king, had requested that she return home, at least for a visit, as he missed her ever-so-much.
Sura, the princess, had never said no to her father and felt that if he had requested it she should go back to the palace at least for a short visit. She told the innkeeper that she had to leave for what she thought would be a short time to visit her father and that she hoped to return to her work soon. Then, she approached Menachem and asked him if he would be so kind to bring her to the palace that the king had asked to speak to her and she had no idea why. She said that she needed a kind person to escort her and she would be so appreciative if Menachem would do it. She knew, looking in his eyes, that he was a kind and trustworthy person.
Menachem, thinking that it would only be a day or two, found someone to milk his cows for him and agreed to take the young woman to the palace; although he did think that it was strange that the king wanted to talk to this simple maid and cook, even though she was very pretty and seemed to be very kind too.
On the way Menachem and Sura spoke and Menachem sang many songs and told Sura many stories. She began to feel that she did not want the trip to end and that she wanted to spend much more time with Menachem. In addition, it kept bothering her that she felt that she had met Menachem before but she could not remember where and usually she had an excellent memory. If she met you once she never forgot you!
Finally, they arrived at the palace. Sura told Menachem that she was a little nervous to approach the king alone and asked him if he would be so kind to enter the palace with her and escort her to the king’s hall. Of course Menachem was willing but he told her he did not know if he would be allowed to enter as she was the one invited, not him.
Menachem tied his horse to the post, brought him water and food and began, with Sura, to slowly climb the stairs up to the palace. Suddenly, Sura stopped and looked at Menachem’s leg. “Yes”, he said. “I was born like this and it is not easy for me to walk very far, but I still can do many things even though one of my legs is shorter than the other.”
Sura began to laugh out loud and Menachem was a little shocked. He was used to people staring at him and sometimes making fun of him, but never laughing out loud at him! “What is going on?” he thought to himself.
Sura turned toward Menachem, she grabbed both of his hands and she declared, “Menachem, you are meant to be my husband!”
“How do you know this?” asked Menachem, even more surprised than he was about the laughing.
“Menachem”, Sura continued, “you came to me in a dream and you said that in heaven it was decided that you and I would become husband and wife and we would love each other, support each other and build a good life together!”
Well, it was hard for Menachem to argue with Sura, afterall, she was kind and pretty and they seemed to laugh at the same things and enjoy stories and music. So he said, “if you are telling me that I came to you in a dream and told you these things, well then it must be true!” In these times people believed in the power of dreams and often made important decisions based on a dream that they or somebody they trusted and loved had dreamt.
So the two of them, hand in hand, entered the palace and came to chambers of the king. When the king set eyes on his daughter he could hardly believe it. She was wearing peasant clothes and her hands were rough from washing, cleaning and cooking, but it was also her eyes that looked so different- and who was this young man who had escorted her in? Why were they looking at each other and smiling and holding hands?
Sura, the princess, looked at her father and said, “I have found my Bshert father. He is Menachem the milkman and he is kind and funny. He loves to sing, he works hard, he takes care of his animals and we are meant to build a life together in this world”.
It is hard to explain who looked more surprised at this time, her father, the king, or Menachem, the milkman, who had just discovered that Sura was not a simple maid and cook but the daughter of the king, the princess!
In the end, everyone was happy that the princess had found her husband and the king had a beautiful wedding in which he invited all of the people in the kingdom to attend. Sura and Menachem married and lived a long life together. They had many challenges, as all couples do but they worked hard to build a good life filled with kindness, laughter and song.
Remember, sometimes to find something that is precious you must leave a safe place and search for it. Trust that the King of kings will be watching over you and look for what is inside the person – not what is on the outside- this is only a cover.