Sunday, May 9, 2010

The mashal (parable) of the farmer and his chickens

Once there was a farmer who wanted his chickens to live peacefully and lay many many eggs. So he told them to behave themselves and kept them in a small cage where he could keep an eye on them. When his egg business grew profitable, he bought more chickens and added them to the cage, until there were 24 chickens crammed together in a wire cage. Whenever a chicken tried to move it would bang into another chicken. When one was trying to sleep the others would be making a noise. When one was trying to relieve herself, there was no where else for the others to retreat to, and they ended up defecating on each other. With no space to call their own they became more and more frustrated, and began pecking each other, at first little nips and then bigger and bigger nips, until one day the farmer noticed one of the birds had blood staining across its white feathers. The furious farmer lashed the birds with his heavy walking stick.
"I'm warning you" he said, "behave or you feel my boot next time."

He took the injured bird for the Sabbath meal, and put two new birds into the cage. With even less room, the chickens were unable to all sit at the same time - if some were sitting others had to stand. One chicken began to complain that she had stood for much longer than the others. Another chicken refused to stand when her time for lying down was up. The chickens began to quarrel bitterly, and as they collided with each other in their hot and smelly cell, their anger and helplessness and frustration overcame their fear of the farmer's bone-crushing boot, and they began to peck at each other, at first just to get some space and then, when this proved impossible, savagely, bitterly, until two of the smallest hens were dead.

The next morning when the farmer discovered this he flew into a terrible rage. He took out the two dead birds. Then he took out all the other chickens, and with a sharp knife that he heated in the stove, he cut of all their beaks. He did the same with the four new birds he put into the cell before slamming the wire gate shut.

I warned you he told the birds, but his voice just sounded like distant thunder to the beakless hens, overwhelmed as they were by the loss of the tips of their bodies and the smell of burnt tissue that filled their nares. They sat or stood as best they could, but soon their desperate situation became unbearable again as they trod and stood on one another, squeezed and pushed against another chicken below and above and on either side of them, so that there was hardly space to breathe. They began to fight with each other again, but having only stumps for beaks, they ended up using their claws. By the end of a long long night there was hardly an inmate of that cage who was not bloodied, their wounds adding to the pain from their wounded beaks. The farmers rage knew no bounds and he seized his knife again, heated it til it was red hot, and then cut the toes of every single bird off.

After this there was little the birds could do to try and alleviate their misery. They had to make do with squawking at each other, and this they did all day and all night, until the farmer, tiring of their noise, cut their vocal chords, and now they suffer in silence.

Fairy Tales for modern children

Once there was a family that had two children. They loved the one child very much. They would brush her hair and gave her a basket to sleep in by the fire. The other child was not so lucky. She had to sleep outside in a cold smelly pit, and no one ever spoke to her, although once a day someone would come and throw her a few mouldy scarps to eat.

One day some people came to visit. They heard crying and sobbing from the pit outside. Is someone hurt? they asked with concern. "Its nothing" said the father, "just a wild animal". But the faint noise persisted. "Excuse me" said the father.
He went outside and told the naughty child if she continued to cry he would beat her and cut off her tail. The child tried to stop crying, but the tears kept on coming.
Are you sure everything is allrighty asked the guests.

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