THE PRINCESS STORY
Once upon a time there lived a great king, who had an only daughter. The princess was noble and fair, and when she grew up, the king looked for a worthy young man to be his daughter's husband. Many dukes and princes wooed the royal princess, but she turned them down one after another. "This one is a glutton," she said, "and that one is too fond of wine." The king became impatient, and swore that the next young man that would come to the gates of the palace would be the princess' husband.
It so happened that the next man to come to the palace gates was a simple peasant. But true to his word, the King married off his daughter to the peasant. The bridegroom took his bride to his village, where he set up his home. To the peasant, the princess was just a wife, and he treated her as he had always thought he would treat his wife. She worked hard, until her pretty face and hands became rough from toil. The villagers often made fun of her and insulted her.
The poor princess was very unhappy. She began writing to her father every day, bitterly complaining to him about her lot. The king felt sorry for his beloved daughter, and sent word to her that on a certain day he would come to visit her. The news soon spread through the village that the king was coming to visit his daughter, and there was a great to-do. Everybody came to the house of the king's son-in-law to help scrub and clean up the place, and decorate it. The king's daughter was now treated with great respect. No more dirty work for her! She was given a beauty treatment and dressed up in fine clothes. Everybody was very friendly and respectful to her.
The time came when the king's runner came dashing into the village, bringing news that the king was approaching the village. Everybody turned out to greet the king. "Long live the King!" "Long live the Princess!" they shouted, as they accompanied the king and his daughter into the decorated and illuminated village. The king entered the home of his son-in-law and found it clean and spotless, and decorated with bunting and flowers.
He saw the great honor and respect that his daughter enjoyed and he was pleased. He wondered why his daughter had been sending him such alarming letters. Father and daughter spent a happy day together, and the king then prepared to take his leave. The princess embraced her father and cried bitterly, "O' father, dear father, don't leave me here! Take me with you! Please, take me back home!"
"But my dear daughter," the king replied, "you seem to be happy here; the way they seem to treat you here, I am sure no princess has enjoyed more honor and affection."
"O' dear father," the princess cried, "all this honor and affection they showed me today is for your benefit. They heard you were coming, so they made a big fuss about me. But the moment you leave, they will begin to treat me as before, insult me, and make me very unhappy."
The king called his son-in-law to his side, and asked him, "Is this the way to treat my daughter? Don't you know that she is a princess?"
The husband's eyes were filled with tears as he replied, "Your Majesty, I know she is a princess, but what can I do? I am a poor man, I must work very hard for a living. I am unable to give her the kind of life she really deserves. Besides, I live in a village, among people full of wickedness and envy. They do not appreciate your daughter's qualities, and take every opportunity to insult her.
"But you are a great king. Since you found it wise to take me for a son-in-law, take me away from here! Lift me up to your position! Give me an estate worthy of your daughter and of the king's son-in-law, and I will then be able to give your daughter the kind of life she really deserves...!"
The King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, wanted to give his daughter --the Torah-- to Adam, the first man, whom G-d created with His own hands. But the Torah said, "He is a glutton; he ate of the Tree of Knowledge against your express command." Then G-d wished to give the Torah to Noah, and the Torah said, "He is too fond of wine; did he not plant a vineyard and did he not get drunk?" Finally G-d gave the Torah to the children of Israel, whom He had just brought out of Egyptian bondage.
All year round the Torah is often neglected and even shamed. Day after day the Torah sends a message to the king, complaining about her treatment, as it is written: "Every day a heavenly voice calls out, 'Woe to the creatures for shaming the Torah!'"
Then come the king's messengers to announce the arrival of the king--they are the days of Elul heralding the coming of Rosh Hashanah. We then wake up, and begin feverish preparations; we pray and learn and recite Psalms as never before. Rosh Hashanah does not find us unprepared. We sound the shofar and hail the King of Kings. G-d is among us, and we enjoy His Divine light, and our hearts are filled with the nearness of G-d, with reverence and love for His Divine Majesty.
Yom Kippur comes, and G-d finds all Jews repenting, pure and holy, like angels. But after neilah is over and the shofar is sounded to announce the departure of the shechinah, the Torah begins to cry, "Father, father, don't leave me! Take me with you, for soon they will take away all the glory from me, and forget who I am, and mistreat me again!"
Then G-d says to His people, "Is this the way to treat my daughter? Don't you know that the Torah is a Divine princess!" And the Jewish people answers, "Master of the Universe! Indeed, we know the greatness of the Torah. But what can we do? We live in poverty, and have no proper home. We live among the nations of the world, who do not want to know about the Torah. So please take us away from here; take us back to our holy land, for all the world is yours; give us back our holy land as an inheritance, and we shall be able to keep the Torah in glory!"
That is why we pray, immediately after the shofar is sounded on the night of Yom Kippur, "Next year in Jerusalem, through our Righteous Messiah, and there we shall serve You as in the days of old!"