From The Mouths of Birds
I stepped over a worm on my morning walk and heard a strange voice say, “I bet you think you’re a Tzaddik!” I looked all around me and didn’t see anyone.
“Down here!” I looked down and there was one of the hundreds of Canadian Geese that have been stopping in Van Cortland Park each day.
“Why do you so assiduously avoid stepping on the worms?” (Unbelievable vocabulary for a goose, especially a Canadian!)
“Rav Moshe Cordovero in his Tomer Devorah – The Palm Tree of Deborah – instructs us to have compassion on the smallest creatures.”
“I knew you thought you were a Tzaddik!” He then ate the worm. “You avoid stepping on the worm and yet I get to eat it. Doesn’t seem right. Tasty, but are you sure you understand the Ramak?”
That was all I needed: a goose that was familiar with the Ramak! I shamefully asked my new friend, “What does he mean?”
“You, sir, avoid stepping on the worm because you want to do the right thing. You aren’t thinking about the worm, but about you. Do you really believe that qualifies as emulating God’s attributes of compassion?”
This was becoming truly uncomfortable. People passing were staring at a guy conversing with a goose, which they only heard quacking. They don’t speak or understand goose, at least not Canadian. Even worse, was the fact that I was receiving rebuke from a bird. Even an extraordinary bird is a bird.
He continued in his quacking voice: “God wants you to actually care about the worm. He wants you to avoid hurting the worm for its sake and for mine so I can have some tasty treats. You need to care about all of creation because it is all God’s. So, stop focusing on being a Tzaddik, and start caring for God’s creation. Otherwise, you won’t really be ready for Rosh Hashana. Remember: You are coronating God as King over all creation, not only over a so-called Tzaddik like you!”
Then, he just flew away.
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