Whenever I am in need of inspiration or direction, my library provides endless sources of subject matter. Most recently, I consulted A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, edited by Nathan Ausubel. There are many hundreds of pages that contain entertaining and instructional stories. Here are a few examples.
A forty-year-old man married a twenty-year-old and was continually questioned about their age disparity. The man’s answer was quite simple. He said that when he looked at his bride, he felt ten years younger; likewise, she looked at him and felt ten years older. And so, they both felt thirty. No harm, no fowl.
I like this one too. A rabbi questioned the town’s rich man about how much the man gave to charity. The man responded that he was a modest man who doesn’t say much about his donations. In response, the rabbi encouraged him to say more about it and donate more. Sounds like perfect logic.
A poor man who was down on his luck asked the rich man for some money, warning that if he didn’t the poor man would go into the hat business. The rich man asked why that would matter to him, to which the poor man said that with his luck, every man from then on would be born without a head.
My favorite is probably the story of the rosebush and the apple tree. It seems that the rosebush was feeling very proud of itself. It believed that because its flowers were the most beautiful and smelled the best, no other plant would be worthy of the praise bestowed on the rose bush.
The apple tree had an excellent response. It suggested that the rose bush could not compare in kindheartedness. When questioned why, the apple tree responded as follows: “You do not give your flowers to people unless you first prick them with your thorns. I, on the other hand, give my fruit even to those who throw stones at me.”
As always, I call attention to lessons. In the last case, we see the reminder that it is the nature of the gifts we give, not their appearance that matters. Shalom.