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  • Rabbi Marc Kraus

How to Win the Throne


Long ago there lived a great Queen, and she ruled her Kingdom with great wisdom and insight. However, she had a pressing problem: she had no children or relatives who could rule in her place after her. So, after many years and careful thought, she decided she would hold a contest to decide who would rule the kingdom after her and succeed her on the throne.


In the capital city she told the town crier to make an announcement to all the villagers about her intentions and requested that they present just one of their children to come the next day to the palace she could make her selection.


The next day, the Queen's palace was filled to the brim with children from different homes in the capital. The Queen handed each of them a particular seed and told them to go home, plant their seeds in a jar and nurse its growth for 8 months. Once the eight months were due, they should return to the palace and she would access how well they’d done and select the best as her heir.


There was a young girl from a poor home named Miriam who received her seed and returned to her village. When she got back, her dad helped her to find a pot and put some soil into it. Miriam made sure she watered her pot every day.


After each month, the children of the villagers who were given the seed would gather and compare their plants. All the seeds of the other kids have started sprouting and budding, but there was no sign of life in Miriam's pot despite her best efforts.

Miriam was disappointed, but she kept watering her pot daily. After a few months all the other children's plants had come to life. Some even had small trees growing in them, some had beautiful flowers and some had leafy shrubs. Poor Miriam still had nothing growing in her pot, but despite being unhappy she never failed for a single day to water her pot.


Soon, the eight months was over. It was time for the Queen to choose her heir. Miriam didn't want to go to the palace. She felt there was no need and sat down crying. All the other children were returning with beautiful plants, but in her jar, there was nothing. However, her father suggested she go back anyway and show the Queen her empty pot, no matter the consequences.


When the day came Miriam reluctantly went to the palace along with all the other children dressed in their best and carrying their well grown plants. The wise Queen came and started to walk through the crowd, looking at the many beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that were proudly displayed.


Finally the Queen came across Miriam, who was hanging her head in shame. The Queen looked at the pot and then to Miriam. “What happened?” She asked. “I watered the pot every day, but nothing ever grew.” Miriam replied nervously. “What’s your name?” The Queen asked. “Miriam” she said.


Then the Queen smiled, nodding her head in admiration. “Clearly, some of you desperately want to be my heir and would do anything to make that happen, but there is one girl who has come to me with nothing. The Queen held up the pot for all to see. Then the Queen continued, “Eight months ago, I gave you all a seed, and asked you to return with your plant. However, the seeds that I gave you were all damaged. Only one child had the integrity to do as I instructed, because I see thousands of plants before me, but only one empty pot.”


“Therefore,” she said, “Miriam will be my successor on the throne.” Miriam was then led to the palace with her family and given the training she would need to become Queen.


When the the Ark of the Covenant was forged to be the home of the tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai it was inlaid with gold both inside and out. Now, as anyone who has seen the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” will know, it was never supposed to be opened. Why then inlay it with gold on the inside? The Talmud (Yoma 72b) answers that it was to teach us that we must be "tocho ke-boro," the same people on the outside as we are on the inside.


As in our story, life often pushes us into situations where the easiest thing to do would not be the right thing to do. To have integrity is to do what is right, just and fair – especially when it is most difficult.

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Rabbi Marc Kraus is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly.

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