A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
A king dearly loved his son and hoped he would some day become king. One day the young prince suddenly took off all his clothes, got down on his hands and knees and started eating with the chickens. This went on for weeks and the King was beside himself. He finally called for the Baal Shem Tov to come to the palace. The rabbi showed up and observed the prince eating with the chickens. Then he too took off all his clothes, got down on all fours and began eating with the chickens. The King lost it at this point and became so depressed he took to his bed. After this had gone on for two weeks, the Baal Shem Tov got up, put on his clothes, and started to leave. The prince said, “But rabbi, you can’t leave me!” The Baal Shem Tov looked at him and said, “My son, know this. Although you wear the clothes of a man, you will always be a chicken.” The prince, thus enlightened, put on his princely garments and returned to his life.
(ed. note: Doug Anderson reports that he heard this story in the back seat of a cab in New York City, but that it is widely known.)