A Tale of Two Birds of Paradise
Many wonderful things were said in praise of the Jewish people by our own holy prophets and sages. Yet, every morning, we begin our prayers with the words of the evil prophet Balaam, a man who would have cursed the nation for gold and silver, had G-d only allowed. Some explanation is needed. And so, we have this story, which I heard from my teacher, RabbiElimelech Zwiebel: In another dimension of time, in a world beyond ours, is a forest filled with magnificent creatures. Of all the creatures there, the birds are the most spectacular, and of all the birds, the tzidikel bird is more beautiful than them all. And of all the tzidikel birds, one stands out with dazzling beauty, beyond anything words can describe. Every morning in this splendorous forest, the creatures gather before sunrise about the tree of the tzidikel bird. As the sun reaches the tops of the trees, its rays shine down through the canopy and the tzidikel opens its wings in full glory. A panorama of colors glisten and sparkle in its feathers, dancing in the sunlight like so many magical stars and fairies to entertain the bird's delighted audience. Each morning is a more glorious spectacle than the day before. Each morning all the creatures ahhh and ooh in wonder. All this occurred every day within that dimension of time, until, one year, a new bird came to the forest. Soon enough, the creatures began to gather at the roost of this new bird each morning, leaving the tzidikel all but alone. "Is she then more glorious than I?" demanded the tzidikel of her few remaining faithful. "How could this be? There are no colors left in the universe that I do not possess!" "But she," her faithful muttered, their heads hanging from shame, "she has no colors. She is black." The fury of the tzidikel knew no bounds. She was the perfection of the art of beauty, and if black was to be beautiful, then there was no beauty at all. In rage, she tore herself from her branch and...
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