Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

40
There Is No Truth in the World

TOLD BY WOLF SOSENSKI TO DINAH BEHAR

A man was traveling a long way. It was a very warm day, and he grew tired. He came to a pile of rocks and sat down to rest. Suddenly, he heard a voice from underneath the stones: "Help me get out of here! The rocks are crushing me."

The man's heart was filled with mercy. He stood up and lifted a stone. A snake emerged and slithered away. The man thought no more about it and continued his journey. A short time later, when he lay down to rest, he felt something on his neck. He looked down and saw the snake wrapped around it. "What do you want?" he asked.

"I want to strangle you," replied the snake.

"I saved you—and you want to repay me evil for good?"

"There is no truth in the world," replied the snake.

"It is forbidden to sit in judgment alone," said the man. "Come, let us travel together and find someone to judge between us. If he says you should strangle me, you may do so; otherwise, you'll let me go." The two traveled together until they met a horse, standing there browsing on the grass. The man went up to the horse, told him the story, and asked, "Please, judge between us."

"Strangle him!" said the horse to the snake. "There is no truth among human beings! When I was a colt, they took care of me and children played with me; but when I grew up, they made me work and I brought profit to my master. But now, when I can plow no more, they don't feed me and I have to chew bitter grass."

"Perhaps you have a bad master," said the man. "But there are also good men in the world who don't behave like that. Come, let us continue our journey. Perhaps we will find another animal that has a different opinion of human beings." The three—the man, the snake, and the horse— continued on their way. They met a large dog that was digging with its paws, searching for food. The three went up to him and the man told him what had happened. The dog's answer was the same as the horse's. Turning to the snake, he said, "Strangle him! When I was a puppy, they

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