Fairy Tale Friday: Rachel the Clever

December 11, 2009 at 12:10 am 3 comments

Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Tonight after sunset, the Festival of Lights begins for Jewish people around the world. Of course, there’s a story behind this holiday, but so many of us have heard the story in school that I thought a more original way for LT to celebrate Hanukkah would be to share a lesser-known Jewish folktale with you all.

This story is called “Rachel the Clever,” and it apparently originated in Poland. As the story goes, a proud and handsome young king vowed he would only marry a woman as clever as he was. One day, he met an innkeeper who told the king that his daughter, Rachel, was so clever that she could solve any riddle. The king was intrigued by this, and told the innkeeper that if Rachel could answer a riddle, he would marry her, but if she could not answer, the innkeeper would lose his inn as punishment for lying to the king.

The riddle was this: “What is the fastest thing? What is the richest thing? What is the dearest thing?”

Rachel smiled, and answered quickly: “Thought is the fastest thing, the life-giving Earth is the richest thing, and love is the dearest thing.”

The king, impressed with her cleverness (and her beauty), eventually overcame his pride and married her, even though she was a commoner. However, as the king was still very proud, the marriage was predicated on the condition that Rachel would never disagree with any of the judgments the king made in court.

All was well and good until Rachel disagreed with a ruling the king had made regarding the ownership of a horse. The king, angered at her going against him, told her that she must leave his palace immediately. Because he loved her still, the king offered one consolation, that Rachel was allowed to bring her dearest possession with her when she left.

That night, Rachel slipped a sleeping potion into the king’s wine. Once he had fallen into a deep sleep, she arranged to sneak him out of the palace and into the nearby woods, where she stayed with him until he awoke. “Where am I?” the king asked, finding himself in a field instead of in his royal bed.”Why am I here?”

Rachel smiled and answered, “You told me I could take my dearest possession with me. That, my love, is you.”

The king forgot his pride and asked for his wife’s forgiveness, vowing that he would always listen to her when making future decisions. And, as couples in fairy tales tend to do, they lived happily ever after.

Isn’t that a great story? Who’s for lobbying Disney to make Rachel their next Princess? :P


Entry filed under: Fairy Tale Friday. Tags: , , .

Discussion Post: The Mill on the Floss The Game by Neil Strauss

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  December 11, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Such a great story! Thanks for sharing it! And I completely agree that we should lobby Disney on its behalf. Then we can all engage in a ridiculous debate about the first Jewish Disney Princess! ;P

    • 2. KT  |  December 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

      If anyone is crying out to be a Disney princess, it’s this girl! Forget making super-passive Rapunzel into a girl-power heroine, Rachel the Clever is already there :)

      • 3. Corey  |  December 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

        Seriously! Why is she so unknown? It sounds like a story that any even mildly feminist mother would want to tell her daughter.


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