Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cinderella #95 How Much Do You Love Me? A Yiddish Cinderella Story

The rabbi's house.

Once upon a time, in Poland, "there was a rabbi and his wife, who had three daughters."  He wished to know how much the girls loved their father, so he called each to him, and asked her. To his eldest, he said, " Rokhele, dear, how much do you love me?" And the girl answered that she loved him as much as gold.  Now he asked his middle daughter, and replied, "As much as silver." And now the youngest, Sorele, was queried.  The girl declared, "Father, I love you as much as food that has been properly salted." So he drove her from his home.  On and on she walked, and darkness fell, and she did not know where to go. "Then she met an old man, who was really Elijah the Prophet." He asked her troubles, and she told him.  He said to her, "Here, take this little stick.  Keep on this road until you come to a house where you hear someone making the blessing over the wine.  Then be sure to say, 'Omeyn', Amen. But no matter who asks you to go into the house, don't go unless it is the rabbi himself. Then, you may go in. When you are inside, go up into the attic and hide the stick there. Then, whenever you need anything, take the stick out and say, 'Stick, open!' And whatever you want will appear before you." So the girl took the stick and walked on, and sure enough, before long she heard someone making the blessing over the wine.  At each appropriate moment, Sorele said, "Omeyn". As soon as the prayer was over, the rabbi's wife came out of the house to see who had spoken.  She invited the girl in, but she would not come.  Now the rabbi himself stepped out and invited her in, so she came in.  Sorele huddled by the stove, too upset to eat the food she was offered.  In the morning, the rabbi, his wife and their son put on their finest clothes, for they were going to a wedding.  Sorele stayed behind.  As soon as she was alone, she ran to the attic and said, "Stick open!" It did so, "revealing a golden basin and a bar of golden soap." Sorele bathed, repeated her command to the stick, and was rewarded with "a costly set of clothing. The girl dressed in an exquisite gown and put on a pair of golden shoes."  And off she went to the wedding where she "dazzled the rabbi's son, who did not recognize her as the beggar maiden living in his house." He engaged her in conversation, but could not gain much information from her.  She would not, for example, tell him her name. So he made a plan and "fetched some pitch to smear over the doorsill of the house.  When it came time for the wedding guests to leave, the beautiful maiden started hastily toward home.  But when she crossed the threshold, one of her shoes stuck in the pitch, and he had to go on wearing a single shoe. The rabbi's son picked up the other one and put it in his pocket." By the time the rabbi, his wife, and their son returned, Sorele was dressed once more in her old clothes, sitting by the big clay oven. The young man was in high spirits.  "See, I have the beautiful maiden's shoe.  I'm off into the wide world to find her. ' He searched high and low for a maiden who could wear the golden shoe, but he couldn't find one. " So he came home again.  That's when Sorele said, "Perhaps it will fit me." And of course it did.  But this was not cause for rejoicing by the rabbi and his wife. "A few nights later, they were sadder still, because each of them had been warned in a dream not to hinder their son's wedding to the poor girl." The son was concerned, but still, he did like Sorele.  As soon as they were alone, she said to him, "If you'll come to the attic with me, I'll show you who I really am." So he did, and she commanded the stick to open.  Then she said to the rabbi's son,  "Some for you and some for me." And they both put on the fine clothes, and went out together, for a stroll. While they were out, the rabbi and his wife saw them. They were very upset and concerned because they did not know who the fancy young woman was, or where their son had gotten the clothes he wore. Yet when they returned home, their son was wearing his ordinary clothes, and Sorele was their, in her old dress. Their son said to them, "Stop worrying. I'm going to marry Sorele. Everything will be alright.' 'Well....' said his parents, in some confusion, 'If you are determined, then marry her you will.' And they all sat down to address invitations to all the rabbis in the country." Preparations began for the ceremony and feast, and now Sorele went to the cooks.  She asked them to leave the salt out of some dishes, and to set them aside. "Came the wedding day.  Rabbis from cities throughout the land arrived. To the amazement of the groom's parents, the bride, in her fine clothes, looked like a princess." The ceremony ended and the feasting began. Everyone ate with gusto.  Except for  one man.  Going to him, Sorele said,"Dear guest, what's the matter? Everyone but you is eating.' 'Ah,' he said,' No doubt the food is very good, but the dishes have no salt." And that is when Sorele identified herself.  Exclaiming, "Father, dear Father, do you remember that I said I loved you as much as food that has been properly salted? Yet you drove me away from home." And her father fell flat on his face with surprise.  When he was able to sit up and speak, he bragged to all of the guests that the bride was his daughter! People danced all night, singing and laughing and feasting joyfully. " Elijah the Prophet gave the couple a diamond chandelier for a wedding present. And the moment they touched it, they ascended into heaven."
From Weinrich, B.S. Yiddish Folktales (Ed., 1988) New York: Schocken Books Notes: This story has many similarities with and some big differences to the other Cinderella's.  It is true that the girl is not a step child, merely the youngest in her family.  She is not abused or despised by her sisters or mother, but by her father, something more rare.  There are no animal helpers. The prophet, also male, is unusual.  A lost and found shoe, the marriage to a well-born young man, and the acceptance of him even when she is not in her deluxe clothing are clear markers, however, identifying this beyond doubt as a Cinderella story. 
Montessori Connection: Fundamental Needs/Spirituality/Judaism/Jewish
1. Read this story, and notice who the characters are.
2. Make a list of them.
3. If you know what a rabbi, write down the definition.