A Lesson For the Children:
Gustov owned a large farm. The yard near his house was full of chickens and ducks, and in huts at the end of the yard he kept the cattle. In the first stall he kept a horse, next to him was a donkey, and in the last stall was a pig.
Every morning Gustov would come and wake the animals up with the crack of a whip. “Let’s go, my lovely horse!” he would cry out, and he would jump on the horse and gallop out to the field. All day long the horse would run and labor, sometimes he was forced to pull the plow and to make furrows in the hard ground, and sometimes he would pull heavy wagons into the city. Only late at night would the horse be returned to his stall. There his owner would measure out a pail of feed. The horse, hungry from the labors of the day, would finish his meal in a few moments. But if he cried out asking for more food, his master would turn away and refuse to listen. He would say, “Take it easy, my lovely horse. That is enough for you. Do not gorge yourself, you will become too fat and you will not be able to work!” And he would leave the stall. The poor horse could see more feed far away but he could not reach it.
The fate of the horse’s neighbor, the donkey, was not very different. It would also work very hard all day long – carrying heavy loads, moving threshing tools from place to place, and so on. And at the end of the day it would also receive only a measured amount of feed.
But the pig was treated completely differently! What a good life he led! He never moved from his stall! He was not forced to do any work! He received everything that he wanted! All day long he ate and ate, gorged himself, and he was never required to do any work or strain himself at all!
“Our lot is bitter and sad!” the horse said to his companion, the donkey. “Just look at our neighbor, the pig. He does not suffer like we do! It’s not fair! Not only doesn’t he have to work, he can eat all he wants whenever he wants to!”
But the donkey, who had lived longer and had gained some experience in life, replied: “Wait, be patient, you will yet understand if you would really like to change places with the pig.”
And then the animals heard the heavy footsteps of the farmer, Gustov. He gave the horse and the donkey their daily rations. And then he went to the pig’s stall. He stroked the pig’s belly and felt its body in several places, and then he said to his wife, “At last, the pig is fat enough! Today we will be able to kill him and have a feast!” (Gustov and his wife, Christians, were allowed to eat pig.)
The next day the pig’s stall was empty. And the horse was no longer jealous about his neighbor, who had been fattened up for the kill…
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This story is a parable. When the Jews saw that Haman was becoming powerful in the king’s eyes, some of them became angry. “That’s not fair!” some of the young students cried out to their rabbi. “This evil man, who makes such evil decrees against us, who does not observe G-d’s commandments, who shows such exaggerated pride over all the other nations – why should he be so successful? Why is he the one that the king has shown such honor? Why has he received such wealth, so much property, and such glory? Does the world lack in truth?”
“Wait, be patient,” replied their rabbi, who had gained some experience in life. “You will yet understand if you would really like to change places with Haman.”
(Source: Esther Rabba 7)
Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute (www.zomet.org.il).
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.