In the original language (Yiddish) of the story, Rebbe Nachman uses the term “Bas Melech” (a classic Hebrew term), which is usually translated into English as “princess.”
But literally, “bas Melech” (or “bat Melech,” if you’re using Sefardi pronunciation) means “daughter of the King” and refers to every Jewish female of any age and background as a daughter of Hashem the One True King. (The masculine term is “ben Melech.”)
As explained in a previous post**, the viceroy (sheni l’Malchut) represents a root of the Jewish soul collective—i.e., YOU, the individual Jew.
The Bat Melech (princess) represents the Shechinah, the powerfully intimate emuna-connection between a Jew and his or her Creator.
This might start to sound confusing because a bat Melech technically refers to a female Jew, but here it allegorically refers to the Shechinah (the intimate connection between each individual Jew and God).
So what gives?
The Quest for Your Own Soul
As far as I can understand it (and it is very deep and complex, so my understanding doesn’t go so far), the Shechinah is part of you and also separate from you. (Paradoxical, I know.)
It primarily depends on how much you want to access this connection.
The Lost Princess is the story of your personal soul history from beginning to end, but it’s also instructive. It actually tells you how to go about accessing that connection to Hashem and bringing about the Final Redemption (including dealing with the inevitable pitfalls along the way).
How to Make Your Soul Shine
Perhaps one Jew represents a lung of the Jewish people, while another represents the right thumb. The “lung” might take pride in its powerful role of orchestrating the very breathing of the collective body; it might be proud of its relative size compared to, say, the thumb.
But does that render the thumb inconsequential? Absolutely not!
What if people had lungs where their thumbs should be?
How horribly inconvenient and useless!
Furthermore, you can’t have a viable body made completely of lungs.
At the same time, just because a thumb performs valuable tasks that a lung never could certainly doesn’t make the thumb more important than the lung.
Can you imagine if you had a thumb in place of a lung?
And as above, a body made completely of thumbs is not at all viable for even a millisecond.
This allegory shows why it is so vitally important to allow fellow Jews their soul expression and their personal journey.
And you must also be careful not to allow others (no matter how sincere and well-meaning) to draw you off your soul-path in order to drag you down their own.
Note: A Jewish soul is expressed and illuminated through halacha (Jewish Law). “Soul expression” is not permission to violate the Torah; it is rather the most beautiful way to uphold the Torah in all its halachic glory.
Regarding authentic soul expression, Rav Ofer Erez explains*:
Among all the general paths that sustain the soul, we need to discover the path that vitalizes me. For there is such a secret that every neshamah possesses a light of her own, and it doesn’t resemble [the light] of any other neshamah.
This is called “my letter of the Torah.”
And when the light of our soul shines, enormous joy is revealed within us.
Therefore, how can we know the track of our individual soul?
Simply put, to whichever type of light and goodness the soul is attracted, that is apparently what relates to it. A person needs to examine whatever he is most easily and most enthusiastically attracted to.
One needs to listen to the soul and to lovingly go with it and in return, it will provide you with eternal pleasure.
[pg. 54, Emphasis mine—MR]
Finding Your Inner Princess
How do you start searching for your personal princess?
Rav Ofer Erez offers the following:
Every kind of contribution is important and builds the person at a different stratum—spiritual contributions in particular.
Each person possesses different contributions toward which he is pulled by his innate nature.
Every neshamah possesses both her own uniqueness and her own individual path to benefit the world.
Every neshamah embodies completely different strengths and abilities to contribute to the world, and it’s very important for a person to get to know his nature: in which areas he excels, where he feels a pull to contribute—and to develop this.
Davka in that area, he’ll be able to develop his own personal quality of contribution. When we give from our essence, for the sake of the contribution itself, then in that way, we reveal the latent abilities of the neshamah.
And this is one of the ways to find the Bat Melech.
He promises that in doing so, all the “not good” places that originally received vitality and “candy” will be exchanged with “candy” of the soul—meaning that if, for example, you were addicted to meaningless chatter and gossip with people, this “not good” aspect will find a positive outlet, such a talking a lot to Hashem or giving people words of chizuk and Torah rather than words of emptiness and slander.
May we all experience success and joy in our individual quests for our personal Bat Melech.