Q: I read the story and then remembered having tried to tackle it before in the BRI book, ‘Rabbi Nachman’s Stories’. I had little success understanding the message except allegorically. The ending of ‘no end’, is totally confusing. I think if I read the commentary, some of it will come together, but what burst my bubble in the commentary was the statement in the very beginning, ‘This story is one of the most transparent here, and the most easily interpreted’. That’s a tad deflating. But, I’ll take a deeper look Shabbos. Any suggestions how else to approach this?
A: The princess is the Shechina, the aspect of HaShem that we must redeem from the forces of evil. (The Shechina is the aspect of G-d’s Presence in this world.) You are the viceroy, you try one road, then another, then another… You keep getting lost. Finally you seem to find the lost princess and would like to free her. You do all the prescribed mitzvot and avodat HaShem (service of G-d) but in the end, you “screw up” again and again. But all hope is not lost. You keep trying and trying and finally in the end you free her. But the story doesn’t tell you how – because only you can write that script.
There is much more to be said BUT this is the story of our own unique journeys. The six sons represent the other sefirot, the lowest one – malchut – is our world and the Shechinah. It says that the king’s daughter was the most precious of his children. That means that our task, despite it being the lowest, the most hidden and the most troubled, is also the most beloved to G-d.
We are put here in a world of confusion and darkness and HaShem knows we will get lost, but if we keep trying and looking for the truth, we will each be able to write our own ending to the story.
There are many other hints, the giants are the tzadikim… And truthfully this story is one of the most straightforward ones, but that is only because the others are so deep and therefore difficult to interpret, so don’t feel bad.
I see that the Kabbalah seems to be confusing you, this is a common mistake that I made once upon a time as well. One has to understand where it fits in to appreciate it. Rebbe Nachman wanted his Torah to be practical and appreciated by every Jew. There are just some basics that need to be known and then the Kabbalah wont confuse you anymore. I personally stay away from getting too Kabalistic and find that often times people miss the points because of their dependence on it.
Try to reread the story once again, with these tips and try to understand it from a personal growth, practical perspective. There are many lessons that the Rebbe is hinting to, which you can figure out on your own. For example the giants keep telling him that the place he is seeking doesn’t exist. When one is looking for the ultimate connection with HaShem, often times people that seem likes giants, try and dissuade you. You must keep searching while not being impressed by their seeming height – whether their height is of spiritual nature or otherwise.
If you want an in-depth practical study of it, try this link:
Rabbi Shalom Arush also has an interpretation of the story available here.
Have a wonderful Shabbos.