Sophia noticed that her young son was eating gluttonously, and that his entire mind was absorbed by the thought of food whether indoors or outdoors. In a quiet meeting, Sophia told her son the story of the fox and the wolf, a story taken from the Jewish folklore.
A fox noticed that a fat wolf was only concerned with his tummy, so he decided to teach him a lesson about gluttony. He met with him one day and found him busy eating. He saluted him once and twice but the wolf paid him no attention for he was eating heartily and with great speed. Finally, the fox said, “I see you my friend eating only few times, and with great effort you find your food. Nevertheless, the food doesn’t even look delicious. While you can find delicious food with no effort at all.”
The wolf looked up to the fox and said, “Tell me what to do.”
The fox answered, “It’s quite simple and easy. Listen to my advice and go to the backyard of a Jewish house on a Friday and help the owner to prepare for the Sabbath. If he sees you helping him he’ll invite you to the Saturday feast and you’ll eat what you wouldn’t dream of.”
The wolf was impressed by the fox’s wise advice and headed on Friday morning towards a Jewish home. As he appeared in the backyard, the Jewish man and all his family came out with sticks. They started hitting him and with great effort he escaped from them.
Being furious, he went to tear the fox to pieces. As the fox saw him coming in anger, he said seriously, “Why do you blame me dear wolf?”
The wolf answered, “ you’ve exposed me to violent beating and I’d have died if I hadn’t escaped from their hands!”
The fox said, “You’re unwise and you shouldn’t blame me but blame your father.”
The wolf questioned, “My father! Why?”
The fox answered, “You went to the house of the same Jewish whom your late father went to and pretended to be helping him on a Friday morning but ate all that was in the house the same evening. Your father didn’t even leave a single bone or a small piece of cheese for the owner. The man took his revenge from you because of your father’s unwise actions.”
The wolf was silent for a little while as one considering the matter. However, the fox broke the silence and said, “Come with me. I’ll reward you. We’ll go to a great feast.”
The wolf forgot all his pain and went with the fox to eat the delicious promised meal. He walked with him until they reached a well. There were two buckets held by string to act like a seesaw. When one drops inside the well the other comes up.
The fox said to the wolf, “I’ll go down first so that you can be reassured, and if you wish, follow me.”
The fox jumped in the bucket and dropped in the well.
The wolf cried to the fox saying, “What are you doing in the bottom of the well?”
The fox answered, “I am busy with all the delicious food. Please don’t disturb my meal with your words.”
The wolf looked down the well and saw the moon reflected on the water of the well as a piece of cheese big and delicious. He did not think twice but threw himself in the other bucket. Immediately, the other bucket carrying the fox came up for he weighed much less and the wolf fell in the water.
The wolf was terrified for being trapped inside the well. He started crying to the fox standing at the side of the well, “Tell me what to do. People will surely come and kill me.”
The fox answered mockingly,” this is the fruit of being concerned with your stomach. You’ve lost your mind and stability for your heart and mind have become slaves to your stomach.”
The fox left the wolf in the well and fled.
“For if a man is unable to check the unnecessary desires of the appetite how will he be able to extinguish the fire of carnal lust? And if a man is not able to control passions, which are openly manifest and are but small, how will he be able with temperate discretion to fight against those which are secret, and excite him, when none are there to see? And therefore strength of mind is tested in separate impulses and in any sort of passion: and if it is overcome in the case of very small and manifest desires, how it will endure in those that are really great and powerful and hidden, each man's conscience must witness for himself” (St. John Cassian).
The Lion and the Proud Donkey
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