Just in the nick of time, I have Lisa Ann Sandell!
Between the years I was in first grade and twelfth, I had to go to Hebrew School. Two to three times a week. I was not a fan at the time, but now, I am so glad my parents forced me to go. I picked up all kinds of stories along the way—stories from the bible, stories of the Jewish holidays, folktales, morality tales. And one of the stories that has always staid with me goes something like this:
Once there was a man with a very large and very noisy family. He, his wife, their children—and there was a whole bunch of them, and somebody was always crying or yelling—lived in a hut with just one room. So, there was really no escape for this poor, beleaguered man from the constant rumble of human sounds, and it was driving the man crazy. One day he goes to his rabbi and complains that it’s entirely too loud in his hut.
The rabbi asks, “Do you have any animals?”
“Animals?” the man repeats.
“Yeah, animals, like chickens, geese—poultry?” the rabbi prods.
“Sure, I’ve got some chickens and geese and ducks,” the man answers slowly.
“Perfect,” the rabbi says. “Now bring them into your house?”
“Into my house?” the man asks, shocked. He’s very confused, poor guy. But he does as the rabbi instructed and brings his chicken, ducks, and geese into his tiny little hut. The noise level only gets worse. The man can’t sleep with all the yelling and crying and quacking and clucking and honking. He goes back to the rabbi and tells him that the hut is louder. “I can’t stand it!” he complains.
“I see,” the rabbi says, stroking his long, white beard. “Well, do you have any other animals?”
“Yes, I have a goat,” the man responds.
“Perfect! Bring your goat into the hut,” the rabbi instructs.
The man is very confused now, because bringing the goat into his hut sounds like a terrible idea. He does it anyway, and as you might expect, the hut is even louder. The man can’t sleep with the crowding and the noise. So he runs back to the rabbi, and tells him, “The noise is even worse than before! Why did you tell me to bring the goat into the house?”
The rabbi looks at him calmly, and says, “I see. Do you have any other animals?”
“Yes, I have a cow.”
“Great, so bring the cow into your house.”
The man shakes his head dispiritedly, but does as the rabbi commanded him. Now the noise and the crowding in the tiny little hut is absolutely unbearable. He runs back to the rabbi, and says, “Rabbi, what are you doing to me? I can’t sleep, I can’t stand it anymore! There’s no room for any of us to breathe, and the noise is unbearable.”
“Take the animals back outside,” the rabbi tells him.
The man is gone practically before the rabbi is finished talking. He takes the cow and the goat and the ducks and the geese and the chicks back outside into the yard. And that night the man and his family enjoy the most peaceful rest.
The next morning the man returns to the rabbi and says, “Guess what, Rabbi. My family and I slept through the night, and it was quiet and there was room to breathe!”
The rabbi inspects the man with his wise old eyes and says, “Just remember, whenever it seems like things are bad, it can always be worse.”
The wonderful people of Scholastic is sending me a copy of Song of the Sparrow to give to a lucky commenter! Since I'll be the one mailing to the winner, once again it's a US only giveaway!
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