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!”