April 19, 2008

Jewish Children's Story

Since today is officially Passover I didn't share this story before Easter. I did share it with the MOPS gals to whom I'm a Mentor Mom. I periodically check out children's stories even though I no longer have little kids. I've often seen how much we can learn from children and children's stories.

Too many children's stories are written with agendas, so are sermonettes and 'twaddle'. In collecting old books, we have some that are Children's Sermons. Some people might like them, but I hate them. Most talk AT and DOWN TO kids and don't really engage them and invite them in. Most REAL stories carry truth whether the author strove for that or not. They are actually better when the author just lets the story create itself (as an artist I understand this).

I often tell the story I found of Leah and Harry. They lived in an apartment building and were lucky to have their own bathroom and a bathtub. Most people had to share the bathroom down the hall.

Their mama was known to be a great cook. Twice a year she made gefilte fish - in the fall for Rosh Hoshana, the Jewish New Year, and in the Spring for Passover. Right before the Festival, carp fish were hard to find in the stores. So mama liked to buy her carp almost a week before Passover to make sure she got the nicest, fattest, shiniest one. Mama bought her fish live and carried it home in a pail of water.

At home Leah ran the water in the bathtub and Mama would dump the carp into the tub. Leah and Harry had fun going to the bathroom because they'd bring pieces of bread or rusty lettuce for the fish to eat.

One year, the carp seemed much livelier and friendlier with brighter eyes. They even gave this one a name. This was not just any old carp, they just had to save "Joe".

"Mrs Ginzburg has a bathtub," Leah said.

So in a bucket between the two of them, Leah and Harry carried Joe downstairs. Mrs Ginzburg said she couldn't keep the fish from her friend, their mother, but that he better go in the tub, for now, because he didn't look too good, "And you better go tell your Papa."

Papa, coming home from work, was glad to see them, but not glad to hear about the fish. "But we love him and want to keep him for a pet!" Papa took the fish from Mrs Ginzburg's tub and returned it to their tub and they never told Mama. And the kids never again could eat gefilte fish.

A few days later, Papa came home with a beautiful tri-colored cat. They named it Joe.

"Then the Lord said to Moses 'On the 10th day of this month each man is to get a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house ... And you shall keep it until the evening of the 14th day of this month and then slaughter it, and their blood shall be smeared on the two doorposts of every home..."

After living in the kids' shoes (maybe bear feet or sandals) and feeling their emotions the reality of Exodus 12 really hits me. Could the kids in the Hebrew families have become attached to, even giving it a name, the lamb to be killed? And then I think of the Lamb of God - the disciples having lived with Jesus for three years before he was killed.

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