JHOM - Personalities - Glückel of Hameln - Memoirs-Birds
story of the father and the baby birds
story, one of many woven into the text of the Memoirs, is told
in the beginning pages of the book, where Glikl dedicates the book to
her children and explains to them her reasons for writing it.
We should, I say, put ourselves to great pains for our children,
for on this the world is built, yet we must understand that if the children
did as much
for their parents, the children would quickly tire of it.
A bird once set out to
cross a windy sea with its three fledglings. The sea was so wide and the wind
so strong, the father bird was forced to carry his young, one by one, in his
strong claws. When he was half-way across with the first fledgling, the wind
turned to a gale, and he said, "My child, look how I am struggling and
risking my life in your behalf. When you are grown up, will you do as much
for me and provide for my old age?"
replied, "Only bring me to safety, and when you are old I shall do everything
you ask of me." Whereat the father bird dropped his child into the sea
and it drowned, and he said, "So shall it be done to such a liar as you."
Then the father bird returned to shore, set forth with his second fledgling,
asked the same question, and receiving the same answer, drowned the second
child with the cry, "You, too, are a liar!" Finally he set out with
the third fledgling, and when he asked the same question, the third and last
fledgling replied, "My dear father it is true you are struggling mightily
and risking your life in my behalf, and I shall be wrong not to repay you
when you are old, but I cannot bind myself. This though I can promise: when
I am grown up and have children of my own, I shall do as much for them as
you have done for me." Whereupon the father bird said, "Well spoken,
my child, and wisely; your life I will spare and I will carry you to shore
Above all, my children,
be honest in money matters, with both Jews and Gentiles, lest the name of
Heaven be profaned. If you have in hand money or goods belonging to other
people, give more care to them than if they were your own, so that, please
God, you do no one a wrong. The first question to put to a man in the next
world is, whether he was faithful in his business dealings [*]
. . .