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To Live Forever: Chapter 7

And then, somehow, some way, they three of them pulled themselves onto the top of the mountain. Safe at last.


The king began his climb up the steep, rocky cliff. The ropes attached to his waist began to strain as he quickly fell behind the two men attached to the other ends of the ropes, who were climbing faster than he was. His general looked down and paused, fingers gripping the rocky cliff with all his strength.

“Your Majesty… everything all right?”

“No. I mean, yes… I don’t know.” The king gasped, sweat making his fingers slip on the rocky surface. “I’m not sure I can do this.”

“You can. You must.” The general tugged on the rope. “You will.”

The king continued climbing, one hand slowly in front of the other. His heart was beating wildly, his breath short. He glanced down and his head began to swim. They were high enough now that falling would almost certainly spell death. How could his weary muscles continue to support him? And if he fell….

Suddenly, the rope around the king’s waist went slack. That could only mean one thing. He hugged the side of the mountain, flattening his body against the rocks as a body hurtled past him, screaming. One of the soldiers attached to him had slipped and fallen.

The king clung to the mountainside, the general above him. The weight of the soldier below them pulled mightily around their waists, threatening to rip them both off the mountain and to their doom below.

“Your Majesty! Your dagger! Use it! Use it now!” the general shouted.

The king fumbled with his right hand for the dagger tucked into his belt. He screamed in pain, as the fingernails on his other hand dug even tighter into the mountain, supporting the crushing weight hanging below.

The king drew the dagger out, the sun glinting off the small, sharp blade. He looked down as he prepared to slash the rope.

“Do it!” the soldier hanging below screamed. “Before it’s too late! Just do it!”

No!” The king’s roar echoed around the mountaintop. “We are going together! All of us, or none of us! General, on my count, begin to pull, climb, inch by inch, we will get him up.” The king threw the dagger from him. It twirled, still in view, and then plunged below.

The general had no energy to argue. With superhuman effort they continued climbing, pulling the dangling soldier with them until he was able to swing against the mountain and grab on. The moment the soldier got a grip and supported his own weight, the king and the general gasped in relief.

And then, somehow, some way, they three of them pulled themselves onto the top of the mountain. Safe at last.

“You should have let me go. Why didn’t you cut me loose, Your Majesty? You could have died. Died, after coming so far, and so close to your heart’s desire.”

“Can I not also play the hero?” The king wiped the sweat dripping from his forehead as the sun blazed down. “I was given the dagger to be the selfish one to cut the rope if anyone fell. You two would not have cut the rope if I fell. You would have done all you could to pull me up, even at the risk of your own lives.”

The general shook his head. “We are your soldiers, and you are our king. We sacrifice to keep you alive. That’s not what a king does.”

“Am I an ordinary king?” The king tugged off the rope from around his waist and tossed it to the side as he stood up. “Now come. Once we get to the waters, you can push me off the mountain for all I care. I won’t die, anyhow.”

The three of them marched off, the king holding the stargazer’s map aloft as he called out directions.


The king dropped the map and began racing to a spring bubbling through the rocks, rushing down the mountainside.

“Yes! Yes, it’s here!” The king began to sob with relief, tears streaming into his beard as he dropped to his knees and sank his hand into the glistening stream. He scooped up the water, his eyes mesmerized by the sight of the glowing water pouring between his fingers.

“Your majesty, here is the royal goblet.”

“The royal goblet? You truly thought of everything, didn’t you?”

“For our king, nothing less would do.”

“Thank you.”

The king dipped the golden goblet into the water, his parched throat eager to be quenched by the waters that would grant him immortality. The water from the spring rushed into the goblet. It quickly filled to the brim, spilling over the edges.

The king got shakily to his feet. He had no words left to say. All he could do was stare at his general, with tears in his eyes, tears on his cheeks, and nod wordlessly.

The general nodded back, almost equally as awed.

“To life ever after, Your Majesty.”

The king tilted his head back and lifted the goblet. It felt heavy in his hands, as if he were holding a goblet filled with gold. He brought the goblet to his lips….

Mr. Silver suddenly stopped the story as a yeshivah bochur approached them, walking slowly with a shy expression.

“Ah, Shaya.” Mr. Silver smiled warmly. “Boys, this is Shaya from a yeshivah down the road. He’s been visiting me for months now. He gives me much chizuk.”

Shaya shook his head.

“No, it’s Mr. Silver who helps me. He’s a tzaddik, and he always knows what to say to make someone feel good. If I’m ever having a hard day, he’s my address to come to.”

Moshe beamed with pride.

“Did I interrupt something important?”

“Well, we’re in the middle of a story, Shaya, but we can wait a moment. Tell me, how did you do on those tests you were studying for? I know you were so nervous about them.”

“Horrible.” Shaya took out crumpled papers from his pocket, looking totally devastated. “I’ll never be the smart guy in yeshivah. I just can’t compete with these guys, Mr. Silver. I love learning as much as they do, but everyone else in my shiur seems to get things so much faster. I’m always feeling like a failure.”

“Your only failure, Shaya,” Mr. Silver said softly, “is to think that you’re a failure. You’re not expected to be anything except the best you can be. Hashem’s not comparing you to anyone else, just the best version of yourself.”

Mr. Silver swallowed hard as he fought back tears.

“Moshe Eliyahu. Aryeh. Let’s go back inside now. I want to show you what’s inside that mysterious chest you asked about before….”

to be continued… 


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 956)

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