The King's Loaves

Once there were two beggars who went daily to the palace to beg at the king's gate. Every day the king gave each of them a loaf of bread. One of the beggars would always thank the king for his generosity. But the other thanked God for giving the king sufficient wealth to give charity.

The second beggar's words always hurt the king. So the king decided to teach him a lesson. The king ordered his baker to bake two identical loaves, but in one he had him conceal precious jewels. Then he instructed the baker to give the loaf with the hidden jewels to the beggar who always thanked the king for his charity.man1 with loaf

The next day the baker went to the king's gate and handed the two loaves to the beggars. He took great care not to confuse the two, for he feared the king's wrath if he should make a mistake.

When the beggar with the special loaf felt how heavy and hard it was, he concluded that it was poorly made and asked the other beggar to exchange loaves with him. The second beggar, always eager to help a friend, agreed. Then they went their separate ways.

man 2 with loaf When the second man bit into the loaf, he discovered that it was filled with jewels. He thanked God for his good fortune, grateful that he would no longer have to beg for his bread.

The next morning the king was surprised to find only the first beggar at the palace gate. He had the baker brought before him and asked him, "Did you mix up the two loaves I had you bake?"

"No, your majesty," answered the baker. "I did exactly as you commanded."

Then king turned to the beggar and asked, "What did you do with the loaf you received yesterday?"

The man replied, "It was hard and poorly baked, so I gave it to my friend in exchange for his."

Then the king understood that all his riches had indeed come from God, and that only the Holy One can make a poor man rich and a rich man poor. Not even a king can change the will of heaven.



buy the bookFrom: The Classic Tales: 4,000 Years of Jewish Lore, Ed. Ellen Frankel, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 1989. Afghanistani Jewish folktale. English language source: Dov Noy, Folktales of Israel, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.


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