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Yom Kippur: The Blemish on the Diamond adapted by Dr. Terry Harman

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

The Blemish on the Diamond

A king once owned a diamond of greatest value. He was proud of it and kept it close to himself, never allowing it to be displayed; for fear that some ambitious diamond-thief might find a way to steal it. He handled it with great caution. Even the slightest move would injure its pure and perfect beauty. In fact, so fearful was he of injuring this diamond that his hands trembled as he turned it and turned it, feasting his eyes upon its perfection.

But sure enough, one day the diamond dropped out of his hand, right onto the beautiful mosaic floor of his secret private bedroom where he isolated this great jewel. Down went the diamond with a crash, right onto the hard tiles, and what was his dismay upon picking it up to see that there was a terrible blemish right in the middle of the diamond. A long, crooked line marred its center!

Then the king took the gem out of hiding. He lamented to all the disaster that had struck! He consulted with diamond cutters, jewel experts, and lapidaries. But they all told him the same sad story: even if they worked endlessly at polishing the stone, they would never be able to remove the imperfection.

“What can I do, what can I do?” mourned the king. “If only I had not been so selfish and kept the jewel to myself, it might be intact right now. My own selfishness was the cause of the destruction of the jewel.”For he now thought for sure that it was destroyed. “I will never hide my treasure. Let all my people see it.”

One time a jeweler from a distant land came to admire the diamond which was now displayed in the public museum. Like all the others he admired the splendid gem. “Why does not the king carve the stone and shape it into some carving which will beautify it?” It would be more beautiful if it was carved correctly!” One of the attendants heard him say so and informed the king. The king begged the diamond cutter to tell him what he meant.

“Why, I could make your gem look even more beautiful than it was before the accident,” said the diamond cutter, “If you let me try.” Eagerly the king consented. With the greatest, most careful art, he began his work. He made the imperfection the center of his carving. Out of the crooked line he cut out the roots and stem of a rosebud. In nature, roots are crooked. The great diamond carver imitated the way in which a crude root, sunk down into the earth, gradually unfolds, grows into the stem, and finally produces a perfect rosebud!

And when it was finished, the king once again put it on display. Everyone understood what the gem carver was saying: out of a blemish, out of crudeness, out of imperfection, there can come the most delicate and beautiful art. Out of a deep scratch - a rosebud! When the king, the diamond-cutters, and the viewers saw what had been wrought with so much ingenuity, they were filled with admiration. The worst fault in the diamond had been changed to a virtue!


This story was first given to me in the mid 1980s by Rabbi Minard Klein, of Blessed Memory. We were serving as Chaplains at the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee, Illinois.

I miss our Tuesday morning times of Torah study, discussion and of course a little nosh!The story is taken from an out-of-print book by Certner, Simon. (Ed.). (1961), 101 Jewish Stories for Schools, Clubs and Camp. New York: Jewish Education Committee Press.

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