Jewish Bedtime Story Co-op

This week in New York City, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the 14th Dalai Lama, will have a festival in Central Park. This reminds me of a Tibetan Jewish folktale I posted a year ago...

Once upon a time there lived a boy named Asher who resided near Lhasa, in the U-Tsang province of Tibet. Asher was very imaginative, and many times he and his friends would invent fantasy games.

Asher would pretend to be a king, a famous warrior, or a great archer. One day, while his friends were away, Asher complained to his mother, Sara, that he was bored.

"I am so bored," exclaimed Asher. "I have nothing to do."

Sara was surprised, since Asher was normally so creative. "What do you mean you have nothing to do?" she asked. "You have all of Lhasa in which to play. I know you are an imaginative boy. Go outside and invent a new game. And when you come back, you can have some challah with a cup of salted butter tea. (a speciality of Lhasa)"

And so Asher left his home and walked through the town in search of a new game. Then he came upon an idea.

"I shall be a hunter," he thought. Asher found a stick and it became his spear. Full of joy, he shouted, "I am Asher the great hunter! Animals, run for your lives."

But what would Asher hunt for?

Just then Asher saw a cat. "I am chasing a tiger" he shouted as he ran down the road after the poor cat, spear in hand. Asher was convinced that he was a hunting a fierce tiger, and he ignored the frightened cat's fearful meow's.

Down the road they ran; Asher chased the cat for many blocks, through many shrubs, until the cat was cornered near some rocks. The cat was so frightened it just froze and could not utter even a single, small meow.

It was only then that Asher realized that his ferocious tiger was merely a house cat. Asher threw down his stick, and the cat quickly ran away.

"Well that was no fun at all," Asher mumbled to himself, as he kicked at the ground, turned, and began to walk home.

Opening the door to his house, Asher was about to complain to his mother that he was once again bored, when he looked up and saw that her face was covered with scratches.

"Mommy," cried Asher, "What has happened to you?"

"You did this to me, my son" Sara told him. (and so the guilt began?)

"No, I didn't. I would never hurt you mommy, never." Asher replied.

"Think back, Asher. Didn't you just chase a living creature only a few minutes ago?" Sara said.

Then Asher hung his head down in shame.

Then Sara, his mother, said, "I was that cat, Asher. Remember this for all your days. When you injure a living creature, you hurt me. As the RAMBAM teaches us in tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, we should be kind to animals and cause them no undue stress."

"But mommy, it was only a game." Asher replied.

Sara then hugged her son, saying, "Yes, perhaps for you it was a game. But for the cat and for me, it was not a game. Remember that in the future, your games should cause no harm to other living things."

Asher then apologized and promised
that he would make sure that he was
kind to all living creatures,
for one never knows if something
is actually their mother in disguise. -- Revised: July 1999
Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Acquired in August 1999.

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