July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When the waters of the flood began to dry up, and it looked like Noah could finally leave the ark, he sent out a bird to find dry land.

First, he sent the Raven, but the Raven came back empty beaked. Then he sent out the Dove. The Dove was never one known for long flights, like the Raven was, but he had always been a nice, reliable bird. He kept to himself in the ark, and he didn’t fight or peck at the other animals. A mensch of a bird. So Noah decided to give him a shot.

The Dove took to the sky and began to fly. After a few minutes, his wings began to get tired. He thought of turning back, but he didn’t want to let Noah down.

When he thought he could fly no more, the Dove looked out upon the great blue horizon, sky above and water below, and thought he saw something in the distance. The closer he got, the more confident he became. And though tired, he pushed himself onward.

Sure enough, there was something out there. And what the Dove saw was quite a sight. On the branch of a lone olive tree, sticking out of the water, in a giant nest the size of a Buick, sat a whole group of birds. There were red birds, blue birds, big birds, small birds, striped birds, and birds with polka-dotted beaks. It was a giant bird party!* And right in the middle of the group sat none other than the Raven.

Needless to say, the Dove was shocked.

“Raven, how could you?” the Dove cried. “Noah is counting on you! And you’ve been here at this party for days!”

“Noah shmoah,” the Raven answered. “I’ve had enough of that ark, thank you very much. I’ve been cooped up in that boat for weeks, and it stinks in there. Besides, it’s not like I’m the only bird here, you know. Any one of these guys could have gone back with a report.”

No feathered friend would look the Dove in the eye.

The Dove was disgusted. All of history was waiting to go on. Still, the nest did look nice, and he hadn’t had anything to eat but birdseed for quite a long time. So he stayed for a few hours, noshing on a worm, then he tarried overnight, just for a break from the routine of the ark, and returned to Noah empty beaked in the morning.

But Noah knew something was not right. The Dove seemed distracted when he returned. If a bird could have a guilty conscience, the Dove had one.

So one week later, Noah sent the Dove out again. The Raven had come and gone a few times now, happy as a Lark, with nothing to show for it, but Noah had his money on the Dove.

Once again, the Dove set out in search of dry land and found nothing for miles, that is nothing but a wild bird party.

The birds were still there, whooping it up. A few had made party hats out of twigs, and some were dancing and chirping, not a care in the world.

The Dove could not restrain himself. “This will not do,” he said. “Lo alecha hamelacha ligmor, veloh ata ben chorin lehivatel mimena.** It is not our place to finish the job, but we also cannot abstain from working.”

The other birds stared at him in confusion. Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of Our Fathers, hadn’t been written yet, and birds weren’t known for their bekiut, their in-depth knowledge of Torah Shebeal Peh anyway.

“We must tell Noah about the olive tree,” said the Dove. “If we don’t step up and do our part, revach vehatsolah yaamod mimakom acher.*** Someone else will come along and save the world.”

Once again, the other birds stared at the Dove blankly. The story of Purim still hadn’t happened, and birds also weren’t famous for their knowledge of Tanach, particularly the Megillot.

“We must step forward and do what’s right,” said the Dove. “Each one of us has to serve Hashem and do the right thing.”

The other birds started to lose interest in his speechifying and went back to their festivities. They weren’t called birdbrains for nothing.

The Dove broke off an olive branch and flew back to the ark, where he was greeted with great joy by Noah and all the animals. And until the end of time, the Dove remained a symbol of peace and of the hope of better things to come.

*My apologies to P.D. Eastman

**Pirkei Avot

***Megillat Esther

Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics and author of the parsha story blog maggidofbergenfield.com.

By Larry Stiefel

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