Shabbat HaGadol-Always Greater & Higher
A king once had two sons whom he loved very much. He sent them to a far away place to learn the ways of the land, giving them a large sum of money for expenses. The two sons were attacked by robbers, who stole everything they had.
The two princes finally came to a land where it was very easy to make money, and where they could realize a threefold profit from any business they entered. The only problem was that they did not have any capital, and in order to raise some funds, they became wood cutters. Each of the brothers was able to earn five gold pieces each day, but they also had to spend this amount to sustain themselves. One was wise, and he said, “What is the purpose of all this if I spend all my wages for food? With what will I return to my father the King?” The wise brother therefore became very frugal, and maintained himself with only a single gold piece daily. As a result of his thrift, he was able to save a considerable sum. With these funds, the wise brother was able to start a small business. He carefully learned the ways of the business world, and eventually was successful and became quite wealthy.
The second brother was foolish, and ate up all his wages, saving nothing at all. When the wise brother saw that his brother was penniless, he had pity on him and gave him a large sum of his own money in order that he should also be able to start his own business.
The foolish brother went his own way, and decided that he would not try to advance step by step. Instead, he invested all his capital in a single large business deal. Since he had no experience in business, he lost all the money in his first deal.
Now, the wise brother would also occasionally lose money in some large deal. Since he was wise and knew the ways a business, when he saw that he was not being successful in some venture, he would also begin a small business. He knew how to take advantage of the situation, while the foolish brother did not.
When the wise brother would start anew in a small venture, he would proceed step-by-step, just like at first. He would earn much money, and would then engage in large deals, just like at first, adding even more to his wealth.
When the wise son eventually returned to his father, he came with great wealth, bearing many jewels and precious stones. His father, the King, was very happy, first, because his son brought back such a sizable treasurer, and, even more, because he learned about all kinds of business.
The foolish son, on the other hand, came home pouring empty-handed. After he lost everything in that big deal, he did not make any more profits, not even a cent. He did not know how to start small and work his way up, step-by-step., The King when he came home threw him out saying, “You good for nothing! You should have learned from your wise brother!”
The Royal prince is the soul. It is sent to this physical world, the Universe of Action, in order to gain a treasure of good deeds and observance of God’s commandments. When it comes to this world, however, it forgets what it learned in the Soul World, and all its advantage is taken away by “thieves.”
When an individual gains wisdom, he realizes that the pleasures of the physical world are nothing compared with those of the Future World, where the soul had delighted under the Throne of Glory. He then abandons the pleasures of this world, taking only enough to sustain himself. He constantly involves himself in God’s Torah, in Commandments and good deeds, going step-by-step.
Even if he falls away from serving God by some small step, he knows all the ways to serve God. He can therefore lift himself up, even when he is in a state of Smallness.
God tests this soul in many ways, and it passes all these challenges. The individual goes step-by-step, until he reaches the highest level. He is then much higher than he was at first. (Torat haMaggid II, Shabbat, page 5)