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A Minority View

A Minority View


About three hundred years ago, the chief rabbi of the famed “Three Communities” in Germany (Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek) was the great Rabbi Yonatan Eibeschutz. Legend has it that when he was just three years old he was so famous for his wisdom that the king of Poland, being a bit bored and even more inquisitive, heard about him and decided he wanted to see the child prodigy for himself and put him to a royal test.

The king sent a message to little Yonatan’s father saying that he’d heard about the child’s wisdom, and was interested to see if he was smart enough to find his way, unassisted, from his home, several miles away, through the confusing streets of the city, to the royal palace.

Of course, Yonatan’s father had little choice but to comply. The next day he dressed the boy in his best Shabbat clothes, blessed him, and sent him off, hoping for the best.

It was a unique sight to see such a small child, smartly dressed, striding with certain steps through the city streets, as though he had done it a hundred times before. After several hours of walking, he actually arrived at the palace!

The guards couldn’t believe their eyes and ears when the tot presented himself proudly before them, and announced in a high-pitched voice that he had come to see the king.

Minutes later, the entire king’s court was marveling at the precocious lad. The king called for silence, motioned the child to approach, and asked, “Tell me, my boy, how did you find your way to the palace?”

“Well, your majesty,” he answered, “whenever I had a doubt I just asked anyone that happened to be nearby, and it seems that G‑d helped.”

Everyone chuckled. The king raised his hand very slightly for silence and continued, “But didn’t it ever occur to you that two people might say opposite things? What if one said to go to the right, and the other to the left? What would you have done then?”

The boy paused, thought for a moment, and answered, “Your majesty, in the Torah it says that when faced with differing opinions, one should follow the majority. That’s what I would have done—I’d have asked a third person and followed the majority opinion.”

The king smiled, and the room became filled with laughter. Suddenly the king’s face became serious and the room fell silent. He moved forward on his throne, gazed piercingly at the boy, and said, “Young man, you should listen to what you yourself just said! If in your Bible it says you must follow the majority, then certainly you should forsake Judaism and believe as we do, as we are the majority!”

The audience smiled, laughed, even clapped their hands, at the royal wisdom. But when the noise died down, little Yonatan cleared his throat and spoke.

“Pardon me, your royal highness. When I said that I would follow the majority, I meant when I was far from the castle and uncertain of the location. But now that I’m in the castle and I see the king seated before me, even if all the king’s ministers tell me I’m in the wrong place, I will certainly not listen to them.

“The G‑d of Israel is everywhere, and no place is empty of Him. It is like being in the palace with the king. Even if the entire world disagrees with me, I certainly have no reason to listen to them!”

A popular teacher, musician and storyteller, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton is co-director of Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and a senior lecturer there.
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Devorah Philadelphia March 24, 2016

A Minority View Precisely! Gems from the mouth of babes. Perfect. Reply

Brian Cohen October 8, 2013

a minority view brilliant is lustrous
wisdom - now here is a whole discussion - read what Gerald Schroeder has to say on the subject of wisdom in his book the science of G-d
It was with wisdom that G-d created the world Reply

Anonymous October 4, 2013

Does not the Torah teach us in Parashah Mishpatim to not follow the majority for evil? Would a righteous judge change his verdict to fit the majority if he witnessed them excepting a bribe to pervert justice? He would sooner tear his clothes than do so. Reply

S.D New York February 6, 2013

A minority view - Brian What's the difference between brilliant and wise? I would think brilliant is smarter than wise - from the general usage of the word. Reply

Anonymous london, uk via July 20, 2012

A different Version I heard that later in life he was questioned the same by a bishop, while walking together. Rabbi Eibshutz stopped and looked up at the sky. when the Bishop asked what he was looking at, the rabbi answered "can't you see the eclipse", the bishop agreed, they both looked up marveling at the sky. A bystander asked the bishop what he was looking at to which the bishop responded "an eclipse". Before long a huge crowd was looking up at the "eclipse".

rabbi Eibshutz turned to the Bishop and said "do you know I didn't see any eclipse" "nor did I " responded the Bishop "I was just too embarrased to tell you"

"you see," replied Rabbi Eibshutz, "all these people are sure there is an eclipse, only us two know there isn't one. This isnt the "majority" that the Torah was telling us to follow....." Reply

Anonymous Keaau, Hawaii July 30, 2011

'majority' I concur with the rest of the comments delivered.....a good story.....and food for everyday thought!......Thank you. Reply

Humbled Coral Springs, FL July 28, 2011

Great Message! I have to say," Great Story! True to its core." Made me realize that one should be strong in his belief even if the whole world mocks and tries to change you. True inspiration to keep strong in our Faith of Torah & Mitvot. G-d has given us as a nation a divine blessing, and in this time of exile and much assimilation. May we merit to see our brethren both assimilated and lost Jewish souls, come back home to its true source and essence. During this time of mourning over the destruction of the Temple. May true redemption and open miracles be seen before our final redemption. Moshiach Now! Amen! Reply

Brian Cohen Toronto, Canada July 28, 2011

A minority view The king was brilliant
The child was wise
wisdom trumps brilliance Reply

Michelle July 28, 2011

gosh! What a remarkable tale. Thank you. I'm sure it will be used and recycled in many different ways and many different circles. Reply

Anonymous NAIROBI, KENYA July 28, 2011

A great view
Great. Just great!!! Thanks Reply

Oswaldo Alvarez Springdale, AR July 26, 2011

Beautiful, thank you Reply

Line Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia via June 17, 2011

What a lovely story, so well written. How opened to/possessed by the Presence of G-od one must Be to know for Oneself what is True and Good! Reply

benjamin October 19, 2010

source great! i really like your stories.
what's your source for this story?
thanks Reply

Meira June 17, 2009

Beautiful story.
It helped me to understand myself better...
Thanks. Reply