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Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav, the great-grandson of the founder of Hasidism, was without doubt one of the greatest Hasidic masters and storytellers. Born in 1772 in the Ukraine, Rebbe Nahman lived only a short time, but still managed to create a legacy that continues to inspire his many followers up to the present day. As he said before he died in 1810, "My fire will burn until the Messiah comes!" A substantial portion of that fire is contained in his stories, parables and paradoxes that convey the mysteries of the Kabbalah. And perhaps the greatest of these is his Tale of the Seven Beggars, which speaks allegorically of beggars and kings dwelling in magical lands accomplishing the sacred work of Tikkun Olam, the ultimate redemption of the world.
However, as all admirer's of the Tale of the Seven Beggars know, we never hear the seventh beggar's story, for the seventh beggar represents the completion of our own tale of Redemption which is not yet full. Nevertheless, there is a teaching that says that the Sabbath is "a bit of the World-to-Come," and on it we must take from the Messianic future and invest it in today. It is in this spirit that we have also included Richard Siegel's original story, "The Seventh Beggar's Tale" for those who would like to dream of that future.
In this wonderful translation, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement and one of the world's foremost authorities on Hasidism, has retold the Tale of the Seven Beggars from the original Yiddish and breathes new life into it with the warmth and sensitivity of his own unique understanding.