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The Scratched Diamond

Based on a tale told in the 1700s by the Jewish teacher, Jacob ben Wolf Kranz, Maggid of Dubno. Other versions can be found in The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales by Peninah Schram, The Maggid of Dubno and His Parables by Benno Heinemann, and A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, edited by Nathan Ausubel.

There was once a very wealthy king who owned many beautiful things. He had cloth tapestries, piles of gold, and statues made by the very best sculptors in the land. Of all of his belongings, his very favorite possession was the most glorious diamond you can imagine. It was huge—as big around as his hand. And it was pure—clear and flawless, without any marks or blemishes. He loved to go and sit with that diamond, gazing at its beauty and perfection.

(Leader: (optional) Hold up a crystal and gaze at it.)

One day when the king went to look at his diamond, he discovered to his horror that it had a long, deep scratch. He couldn't believe his eyes! What could have happened to his flawless diamond?

Immediately he sent for all of the best stone cutters and diamond cutters in his kingdom. One by one they came to inspect the diamond. Each looked at it closely and then sadly shook his head. The scratch was too deep. If they tried to polish it they might break the diamond into pieces.

Finally one last diamond carver came before the king. He looked at the diamond closely, gazing at it from every angle.

(Leader: (optional) Act this out, with the crystal.)

The king watched with bated breath as the diamond carver turned the diamond over and over, pursing his lips and shaking his head.

Suddenly the diamond carver's face broke into a big smile. "I know how to fix this, your majesty!" he exclaimed. "Leave it to me. In two weeks time I will return your diamond to you, better than ever. However, you may not visit me during this time or check on my progress. You must wait until it is finished."

The king was very excited. Soon his flawless diamond would be back with his other lovely things, perfect again, the scratch removed. It took all the king's willpower to resist the temptation to visit the diamond carver to watch him work.

As for the diamond carver, day after day, night after night, he brought out his tools to fix that diamond. Bit by bit, he worked on that scratch. It was slow, tedious work. He knew he had to work carefully or the diamond could crack into pieces.

Finally the diamond cutter was finished. Carefully he wrapped the diamond in cloth to protect it, and he brought it before the king.

"Here it is, your majesty," he said. With a flourish he opened the cloth and presented the diamond.

The king gasped at what he saw. Where there had once been a scratch, a horrible flaw in his precious diamond, there was now an exquisitely beautiful flower carved into the diamond. Unable to polish the scratch out of the diamond, the diamond carver had instead turned the flaw into something beautiful.

The king loved his diamond more than ever. Now when he went to hold it in his hands and gaze upon it, he was reminded that even something imperfect or ugly or flawed can become something exquisitely beautiful.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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