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Another Jewish Tale for Emerald Island Day

A Jewish spin on a classic Irish folktale in time for Emerald Isle Day (to be read with a lilt)...

Once upon a time, there was a Jewish lad by the name of Leary Levine who lived near Limerick, Ireland on the River Shannon.

Leary was not a wealthy lad, and for fun he would long walks in the Irish countryside.

One evening, walking down a road, as Leary returned from pleasant trips to Lough Gur and Bunratty Castle, he heard a high, yet wee, voice coming from a field of thickets on the side of the lane. Never one to shirk from doing a good deed, Leary entered the thickets to see what the problem was. The night was dark, but the moon was full; so enough light was provided for Leary to make his way from the road to the field.

Entering the field, Leary stepped over many a thicket as he searched for the source of the wee voice. Thickets, you know, are black picker and thorn bushes, and this field was filled with thousands of them.

After a few minutes of listening for the wee cries and searching, Leary came upon a wee person who was stuck on a thorn of a thicket. It seems that a picker had snatched this red-hatted, wee man on the seat of his pants, and there he was, stuck in the air, hanging by his pants on a thorn in the bush.

"How did you get yourself into such a mess?" Leary asked the man. Just then, Leary noticed that under the thicket was a small sewing machine and fabrics. Leary realized that this was no ordinary wee man, it was actually a magical leprechaun. (For you see, a leprechaun is a wee man, who lives in the forests, fields or caves of Ireland, earning a living as a cobbler or a tailor, guarding his pot of gold. Leprechauns are smart and hard to catch, but once caught, they must give up their pot of gold without a fight.)

"Are you a leprechaun?" Leary asked the wee man.

By now, the leprechaun was quite agitated, for he had been hanging on the bush for quite some time. "So what if I am?", asked the leprechaun. "Just get me down from here before I get hurt, and be sure not to tear my pants, for I just bought them new last week."

So, very carefully, Leary helped removed the leprechaun from the large black thorn that had caught him up.

"Place me on the ground!" shouted the leprechaun after he was removed from the thorn. (For Leary still held the leprechaun in his hands.)

"Not until you tell me where pot of fairy gold is." Leary responded. For Leary knew how hard it was to catch a leprechaun, and now here he had one in his hands.

Leary and the leprechaun argued for what must have been half an hour, until the leprechaun surrendered, as he was obliged to do, and led Leary to the gold.

As Leary carried the leprechaun in his hands, the leprechaun directed Leary through the moonlit fields past many a bush, until he came upon the one under which the gold was buried.

"I keep my pot of fairy gold under this thornbush." said the leprechaun.

"Tis just my luck," Leary responded, "for I have no spade nor shovel with which to dig up the pot of gold, and now I shall never be a wealthy man."

"Why don't you just go home for a shovel, and return for the gold in the morning?" asked the wise leprechaun.

"Well, for then I shall never find the right bush when I return." Leary responded

The leprechaun thought for a moment and said, "This is not a problem. Simply tie your bright green necktie around this bush, and when you return in the morning, you'll know which bush under which to dig."

Leary did as the leprechaun suggested, let the leprechaun go on his way, and rushed home to Limerick to get his shovel.

By the time Leary returned to the field of thickets and thorns, the moon had set and the sun was rising in the East. A new day was starting, and armed with his shovel, Leary was anxiously awaiting the gold and his new found wealth.

Leary walked halfway into the field of thickets in search of the thornbush upon which he had tied his bright green necktie. It was not until he took a few more steps that he realized that he was surrounded by thickets, each of which had a bright green tie tied to its branches!

Thousands of thickets surrounded him, and upon each one, the leprechaun had placed a bright green tie. Thus the wee leprechaun had protected his pot of gold, and Leary knew that if he lived to be 120 years old, he still would not be able to dig under each of the thicket bushes to find the gold.

Sad, dejected, and filled with despair, Leary walked back toward the road with is head hung low. Now Leary would never be rich. But then, reaching the rise in the road to Limerick, it dawned on him... St Patrick's day was approaching and the townspeople of Limerick would be wanting green ties.

Racing back to the field, Leary snatched up the thousands of bright green ties that the leprechaun had made. Carrying them back to Limerick in several trips, Leary sold them in the town-square. He made enough money from the sales of the neckties that he was able to move to Dublin and open a clothing store on Camden Street, which thrived for many years, and became the source of the Levine family fortune.

And so the moral of the story is, while many a boy or girl may wait to find leprechaun and his pot of gold, the better thing to do is to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Work hard like Leary, who made his true fortune as the haberdasher of Camden Street.

The next time you see a bunch of people or friends sporting a green necktie on March 17, remember that Leary Levine is probably making a commission on that sale.




http://www.myjewishbooks.com -- Revised: July 1999
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