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It Could Always Be Worse

There is a wonderful Jewish folktale that I was just sharing with a friend this morning. The story is one many of us have heard before or read to our children. “It could always be worse” is one common title. Let me share it with you.

There was a man who lived in a small one room home with his wife, 4 children, and his mother (the Bubbe). It was so small that every day the children took turns sleeping on the table and under the table so they could have enough space to stretch out. One day the man could not take it anymore. He went to the Rabbi of his small town and said- “Rabbi my home is so small. My wife, 4 children, and my mother all live in one room. All day long there is talking and fighting and constant kvetching (noise). What can I do Rabbi to get a moment’s peace?” The Rabbi stroked his long beard and asked the man “Do you have a chicken? Maybe even a goose?” The man answered and said “well yes I have a chicken and a goose.” “Great” exclaimed the Rabbi. “Please bring them both into your home.” Well the man thought this was a bit strange but figured he ought to follow the Rabbi’s advice.

It was worse than before. The kids fought and kvetched. The wife complained. The chicken clucked. The goose pooped everywhere. This was ridiculous. The man went right to the Rabbi’s office. “Rabbi it is worse than before, what can I do now?” The Rabbi asked the man if he had a goat, maybe even a cow. “I have both a cow and a goat” answered the man. “Wonderful” exclaimed the Rabbi, “take them both into you home.”

Oy! Thought the man. This is so silly. But he knew he must follow the Rabbi’s advice. So he went home and brought the goat and the cow into the house to join the chicken and goose, his wife, 4 children, and his mother. No one could sleep that night. No one could find any space and there was not a moment of quiet to even shut one’s eyes for the night. This was ridiculous! The house was now so uncomfortable and miserable that the man could not think of anything else to do but to go straight to the Rabbi’s office. “Rabbi I cannot live with this for even one more minute let alone another day! What can I do? And please Rabbi don’t tell me to bring another animal into my home!” The Rabbi told the man to take the chicken, goose, goat, and cow back out to the yard.

The man ran home and did what the Rabbi told him to. He walked back in his small home where his wife and mother and 4 children were waiting for him. His home never seemed so big, quiet, comfortable or peaceful! What a miracle the Rabbi had made happen. It was as if the house had expanded and his family got quieter.

He never complained again about the size of his house, the noise of his family, or the lack of peace in his life.

May we all be blessed to focus on the positives in our lives. May we see the good in what is in our family, home, and community.

Blessings, Deb

About Deb Dusansky

Deb Dusansky
Deb has been a Jewish educator for over 20 years directing and teaching children, adults, and families. She is currently the director for Boulder Stepping Stones, an independent family education opportunity for interfaith and Jewish unaffiliated. Deb has been in private practice for over 14 years counseling individuals, couples, and families. She specializes in spiritually centered counseling.

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