Once upon a time there reigned in Sana, the capital of Yemen, a mighty ruler, the Great Imam. He had a young son, whom he loved dearly. The young prince was as wise as he was handsome. When he rode on his white Arab steed, he looked lovelier than any Arab prince in the world, and all the Arab mothers peered from their veils and wished that their sons would be even a little like the crown prince.

The Jews of Sana also loved the prince, and whenever he visited them in their Jewish quarter, they would all turn out to greet him with love and honor.

Now, the king of Yemen, the Imam, had a Jewish advisor. There was no decree or law, no tax or toll, which the king imposed upon his subjects without first consulting his Jewish advisor about it.

If it was good for the people as well as for the king, it became the law of the land, but if it was good only for the king, or only for some of the people, he would advise the king to reject it.

Many of the king's ministers were jealous of the Jewish advisor and resented the trust which the king put in him. They became even more jealous when the King appointed his Jewish advisor as the grand vizier of his kingdom, placing all the affairs of state in his hands.

Now the king's ministers began to plot the downfall of the grand vizier. At the same time they hoped to destroy the Jewish community in Yemen once and for all.

They bribed the two servants, whom the king had assigned to guard and serve the crown prince, and persuaded them to join them in the plot.

It came to pass that the crown prince, accompanied by his two servants, went for a ride through the streets of Sana. When the sun began to set, the servants said to their master: "Your Royal Highness! Tonight the Jews are celebrating their 'Sugar-Festival' — they call it Purim. They prepare sweet pastries and candies which are very delicious, and they have lots of fun. Let us ride into the Jewish Quarter and visit their synagogue, where they are all assembled for the celebration!"

The suggestion was well received by the crown prince, and he made his way to the Jewish Quarter. News of the crown prince's visit spread quickly. When the crown prince and his two bodyguards arrived at the gate of the synagogue, the Chacham Bashi (chief rabbi) and the heads of the community were waiting to welcome the royal visitor with all due honor. The grand vizier, who had come to attend the Purim service in the synagogue, was also there to greet the prince.

The prince's servants alighted from their horses and hurried to the prince to help him dismount. As they had planned, one of them quckily unsheathed the Prince's sword, pointing it upwards, while the other held the prince's foot in the stirrup, causing the Prince to stumble and fall on the sword's edge. It pierced his heart, and the Prince fell dead at their feet.

The treacherous servants had done their work so expertly that no one realized what had happened; nor could anyone have seen in the gathering dusk what had happened to the prince. Immediately the two villains raised a hue and cry that the Jews had murdered the crown prince! They left the dead body of the prince in front of the synagogue and galloped back to the palace.

The Jews were stunned by the terrible calamity which had befallen them. The joyous spirit of Purim gave way to profound grief, sorrow, and fear.

In the meantime the prince's body was taken to the palace. The king bitterly lamented the death of his beloved son and heir. He believed the account which the prince's servants had brought to him, namely, that the crown prince died at the hand of a Jewish assassin. The king ordered that the Jewish Quarter be surrounded and guarded, and that no one should be permitted to leave it. He gave the Jews three days in which to deliver to him the murderer. If they failed to do so, the whole Jewish Quarter would be set on fire and all the Jews in it, men, women and children, would perish in the flames!

The grand vizier tried to convince the king that his brethren could not have committed such a heinous crime against G‑d and against the king. But the king turned a deaf ear to his pleas. He stripped the grand vizier of his honors, and ordered him to return to the Jewish Quarter, to share the fate of his Jewish brothers. The king's ministers pretended to be grief-stricken, but inwardly they were happy that their plot had worked.

As usual in times of distress, the Chacham Bashi ordained a public fast and called upon his brethren to pray to their Father in Heaven with all their hearts. He announced that for the next three days all the Jews of Sana were to fast: the men, women, and even the children. No food or water was to touch their lips. The older Jews were to remain in the synagogue day and night.

Everybody prayed with a broken heart and tearful eyes. On the third day they prayed harder than ever, and their wails and cries ascended to the heavenly throne.

Late in the afternoon of the third day, a little boy suddenly said to his mother: "Mother! G‑d has accepted our prayers. Now give me something to eat... I am very hungry."

The mother became frightened. "Don't talk like that, child," she said to him. "The Chacham ordered us all to fast to the end...."

But the boy continued to plead for food, saying there was no need to fast any longer, for G‑d had accepted their prayers. The mother decided to take the boy to the Chacham. She was so faint from fasting that she was barely able to drag her feet.

The boy repeated to the Chacham what he had said to his mother. "Tell me, my boy, what did you learn in Cheder this morning?" the Chacham asked him.

"I learned that King David said, in the holy Psalms (Psalms 8:3): 'Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, to destroy the enemy and the avenger,'" replied the boy, and he continued: "Take me to the king. I can tell him who killed his son."

The boy was washed and dressed in his Sabbath clothes, and he was taken to the palace by the Chacham Bashi and the grand vizier. They just had enough time to get there before it was too late, for the king was waiting for an answer before sundown.

In the throne room, resting in an open golden coffin, lay the body of the crown prince, surrounded by the king, his ministers, and servants.

The boy stepped forward. His face was very pale, but his voice was firm.

"Your Majesty, G‑d has sent me to tell you who killed your beloved son."

Saying this, the boy approached the coffin and placed a piece of parchment on the prince's forehead. On the parchment were inscribed three Hebrew letters, aleph, mem and tav — the first, middle and last letters of the alphabet, spelling out the word emet ("truth").

"Tell us the truth! Who killed you?" the boy said to the dead prince. To everybody's horrified amazement, the dead prince sat up and pointed a dead finger toward his two servants, who were standing there, shaking and shivering.

"Return to your sleep, O Prince," the boy said. At once the first letter disappeared, and only the latter two remained, spelling out the word met ("dead").

The two villains immediately fell on the ground before the king, pleading for mercy. But since they had no mercy on the prince whom they killed in cold blood, nor on the many Jewish children and their parents whom they wished to kill, too, the king had no mercy on them. He ordered them to be hanged. Before they were executed they told the king the names of the wicked ministers who had plotted the crown prince's assassination. They were also hanged, ten in all.

For the Jews of Yemen it was a wonderful salvation.

The Yemenite Jews resolved to observe this special "Purim Yemen" every year, on the day after Shushan-Purim as a day of rejoicing and feasting and thanksgiving to the Almighty.

And the boy? He grew up to be a saintly tzaddik, and when the Chacham Bashi passed on to his eternal rest, the boy was chosen to succeed him as the head of all the Yemenite Jews.