Reader for Jewish Children

David Friedländer



The Wolf and the Animals

The Lion’s Chancellor, the Wolf, was taken to court by all the animals, who complained that no living being was safe from his predatory jaws. “This insatiable creature,” they charged, “makes the forest a desert, our wives widows, and our children orphans.” The King was angry, and forbade the Wolf his cruelty with firm words: “The past cannot be changed,” he declared in royal manner, “but from now on, you must shun all violence. Satisfy yourself with the dead animals you find in the fields. Should you lose control of yourself, then swear to me that you will eat no meat for two whole years as a penalty for every living animal that you kill.”

The Wolf swore this oath and departed. A few days later, when he saw a fat sheep in the meadow, a terrible hunger overcame him. He fought with himself: “Two years without enjoying meat!—This penalty is harsh! And I have sworn to it.—However, in every year there are 365 days. Day is when I see, and night is when I do not see. So, every time I close my eyes, it is night, and when I open them again, it is day.”—Quickly, he closed his eyes and opened them again; so, out of evening and morning, the first day was made. In this fashion, he counted off two full years. “Now,” he said, “I have paid in advance for my sin,” he seized the sheep, and killed it.

A predator easily finds the means to thwart even the strongest oath.

Moral Sayings and Proverbs from the Talmud

Honest regret avails more than one hundred accidents.

The death of a wise man often teaches more than his life.

Conviviality or death!

To remain silent suits the wise man: the fool even more.

The man dignifies the title, not the title the man.

A genial countenance is a sign of inner godliness

Cast no stone in the spring where you have quenched your thirst.

The host provides the wine; the cupbearer receives the thanks.

He who does too much, does too little.

Translated by


David Friedländer, Lesebuch für jüdische Kinder, ed. Moritz Stern, [Reprint of the edition Berlin, Voß, 1779] (Berlin: Soncino-Gesellschaft, 1927), 16-17 (Der Wolf und die Thiere), 33-40 (Sittensprüche), First published: David Friedländer, Lesebuch für jüdische Kinder: zum Besten der jüdischen Freyschule (Berlin: Voss und Sohn, 1779),

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 6.

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