A man had been wandering about in a forest for several days, not knowing which was the right way out.
Suddenly he saw a man approaching him. His heart leaped with joy.
"Now I shall certainly find out which is the right way,"
he thought to himself.
When they neared each other he asked the man,
"Brother, tell me which is the right way. I have been wandering about lost in this forest for several days."
Said the other to him, "Brother I do not know the way out either. I too have been wandering about here for many, many days. This I can tell you: do not take the way that I have been taking, for that will lead you astray. And now, let us look for a new way out together."
My Rebbe, Zalman Schacter-Shalomi of blessed memory, always reminded us that "the only way to get it together - is together!"
A parable from Rabbi Hayyim of Zans, 19th C.
Found in Shai Agnon's Days of Awe
On a warm afternoon, on the second floor of a splendid palace that overlooked the market place of the city, sat a king and his minister. While the king was eating some puffed rice on honey, he looked over his land with satisfaction. What a prosperous city he ruled, what a magnificent city
As he was daydreaming, a little drop of honey dripped from his puffed rice onto the window ledge.
The minister was about to call a servant to wipe up the honey, when the king waved a hand to stop him. “Don’t bother, it’s only a little drop of honey, it’s not our problem.”
The minister watched the drop of honey slowly trickle down the window ledge and land on the street below.
Soon, a buzzing fly landed on the sweet drop of honey.
A nearby lizard shot out its long tongue and caught the fly.
The lizard was taken by surprise when a cat leapt on it.
The cat was pounced on by its worst enemy the dog that had broken free from its chain.
Meeowing and barking erupted from the street below the King and his minister.
The minister was about to call a servant to go and deal with the brawling cat and dog when the king said, ”Relax, the cat and dog belong to the market people. We shouldn’t interfere. It’s not our problem.”
The cat’s owner was horrified to see her cat being attacked by the big bully of a dog and started whacking the dog with her broom. The dog’s owner was horrified to see her dog being attacked by the big bully of a cat and started whacking the cat with her broom.
Soon, people started coming out from their stalls and houses to see what all the screaming and shouting was about. Seeing their friend’s cat being attacked, they joined in berating the dog and its owner. Others, seeing their friend’s dog being attacked by the cat, joined in berating the cat and its owner. The shouting soon escalated, until a fight broke out in the street.
The worried minister turned to the King who raised his hand saying, “Not our problem. Here, have some more puffed rice and honey.” The king and his adviser ate, as they watched the fray below.
Someone called for the police, who arrived and attempted to break up the fight, but the people’s anger had grown into fury, and they started attacking the policemen. The fight rapidly broke out into a full scale riot.
The king eyed the minister and said, “I know what you are thinking, but the army will handle it. Besides, this is not out problem.”
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the riot led to looting and destruction all over the city. Buildings were set alight and by nightfall, the magnificent city was reduced to a pile of smoking ashes. The king and his minister stood spellbound, rooted to the spot where they had been watching all day. Their mouths were hanging open in horror.
“Hmmm…,” murmurred the king quietly, “maybe the little drop of honey WAS our problem.”
Story re-crafted by Mark Novak
This is credited as a Thai/Burmese folktale, but my suspicion is that it is based on a folktale. Let me know if you know, you know? You can find it and many more stories at Storywise
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Mark Novak is co-founder of The MultiFaith Storytelling Institute