Three Weeks: Tale of a House Mouse
One's lack of concern for another human being's difficulty in life is liable to be a boomerang; the uncaring person might find himself in the same situation...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Marty Mouse lived a good life as a house mouse on a farm in Iowa. He lived happily alone in a hole in the kitchen wall of the family farmhouse. His landlords, Al and Sue Gillian, raised poultry, a few cattle, corn and soybeans. They made their own cheese, which was Marty's delight. Every day after breakfast, when Al would go out to the fields and his wife Sue would feed the poultry and the cattle, Marty would scurry out of his hole and feast on the crumbs of cheese that fell off the kitchen table. He'd then go for a walk around the barnyard, visiting his feathered and hoofed friends.
Suddenly, Marty's dolce vita - his sweet life - came to an abrupt end. In a moment of carelessness, he left some tell-tale droppings in the kitchen. Sue Gillian found them and was furious, livid that a rodent dared to violate the sanctity of her kitchen. She drove to a hardware store in Des Moines and bought the strongest, deadliest, most effective mousetrap on the market.
Peeking out of his hole, Marty Mouse saw his landlady set the deadly contraption, right under the kitchen table where he eats! "I'll starve," Marty gasped, trying not to emit a giveaway squeak. "This is an existential threat!" That morning, he went without his favorite breakfast, having to compromise on a few dry grains of chicken feed out in the Gillian chicken house.
Marty approached Henrietta Hen, a venerable great-grandma hen that all the other hens looked up to. "Henrietta, I have a terrible problem; please help me!"
"Cluck-cluck, Marty Mouse - what's on your mind?"
"My entire life is threatened. The Gillians set this doomsday mousetrap under the kitchen table. There's no way I can get my daily portion of cheese anymore. That trap is worse than Napoleon's guillotine!"
"Cluck-cluck, ridiculous rodent; why should I care? We have enough problems out here with unwelcome guests like foxes and weasels. This is the Iowa, not Broadway! You'll have to find your own solution - it's not my problem." Henrietta Hen turned up her beak and pranced away.
Alone and dejected, Marty scampered across the barnyard to the turkey barn. He approached the head turkey, Thomas. "Thomas, I need your help! The Gillian's set this killer mousetrap under the kitchen table. I'll starve!"
"Gobble-gobble, silly house mouse; since when do we turkeys intervene in household affairs? This is definitely not my problem. You'll have to find your own solution." With another gobble, Thomas Turkey walked away, leaving Marty high and dry.
"This is no time for despair," Marty told himself, scurrying across the barnyard to the cattle corral. He encountered Andy Angus, the Gillian's prize young bull. "Andy, you must help me - I am now facing a major existential threat. This is not something off in the future - my life and livelihood are at stake right now!" Marty then told Andy the bull all about the new mousetrap in the kitchen.
"Mooooooove away," Andy advised.
"But this is my home," Marty Mouse objected tearfully.
"Then mooooooove out of my way, mouse," Andy mooed, "this has nothing to do with me and is expressly not my problem!"
That night, Marty went to bed hungry. He chanted the mouse's prayer from Perek Shira, "And You are just for all that comes upon me, for You, Hashem, have acted in truth and I have been wicked." He put his trust in G-d and fell asleep.
An hour or so transpired, and all of a sudden, "SNAP-POP!" The mousetrap had been sprung.
Sue Gillian ran into the kitchen to see what happened. A semi-poisonous snake was caught by its tale in the trap. But before she knew what happened, the snake bit her in the leg. Instantaneously, her leg began to swell. She screamed for her husband. He rushed her to the emergency ward of the local hospital. Sue was given a series of injections and sent home. Doctor Sacks assured her husband, "If you need any help, call me on my private number. There's nothing more to do for her. She needs rest."
At home, Sue's fever continued to rise. Al called Dr. Sacks and asked what to do. "Use the old grandmother's remedy - make a chicken soup from the oldest hen you can find." Al ran out to the poultry house and slaughtered Henrietta Hen.
A day later, Sue's fever got even worse. Al called Dr. Sacks again and asked what to do. "She needs some very high-quality protein," the doctor said,"to give her body strength to fight the fever. Give her some fresh turkey breast - it's 26% protein and readily digestible." Al ran to the turkey barn and slaughtered Thomas Turkey.
The fever still climbed to unprecedented heights, overcoming Sue's last drop of resistance. She died, and was buried a day later.
As customary in Iowa, Al had to feed the hundreds of mourners who came to pay their respects. He had to serve a lot of meat, so he slaughtered Andy the young bull.
Marty watched in awe. He felt so sorrow for his landlord's tragic loss. Yet Marty was still alive. All those who had no sympathy for him and refused to help him were no longer alive. Even though Marty loved cheese, this was food for thought that kept his mind satiated for a long time.
Moral of the Story: Throughout history, many nations have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the Jewish People's struggle for survival, as we are painfully reminded during the Three Weeks and on Tisha B'Av. Yet, the world's mighty civilizations are no longer here, but we - the Jewish People - continue to thrive. In order for us to merit the end of Diaspora and exile, we must no longer turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of our brothers and sisters, wherever they are, for one Jew's problem is every Jew's problem. May we soon be one people with one united heart, amen!
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.