a story.

There was a duckling who loved to spend his afternoons listening to the people near the river. One day a group of children from the village nearby caught his attention. One of the boys said, “When moshiach comes, will we be able to see Hashem?” His friends didn’t know the answer, so they decided to ask their parents when they got home. The duckling wanted to know the answer too, so he tried to follow them, but they took such a long walk along the river that the tiny duckling was too tired to go all the way with them. He jumped back into the river and went home.

When he was curled up next to his mother that night and trying to sleep, he asked her if she knew the answer. The mother duck said she didn’t know, but she hoped he would tell her if he ever found out. It seemed very important. All night before he slept and even in his dreams, the duckling kept praying that he would be able to see the creator of everything.

Many months passed and the duckling grew into a handsome duck. He still remembered what the children had said, so whenever he woke up or went to sleep he would say, “Creator, thank you for the world and everything you’ve given me. It makes me happy to be given these beautiful things from you. But I also feel sad that I can’t see you or hear you speak, so please reply to me and teach me.” Hashem heard the duck’s prayer and it was very special to Him. But He didn’t answer straight away, because He knew that the answer needs to be experienced in real life before you can really know what it means. So one night He gave the duck’s mother a dream about a shining river, a king’s palace, a birthday present, and a fruit tree. When she woke up it seemed like a riddle to her, but she knew that she should tell her son to look for these things. So she did. The next day, he set out on his journey to find the river, the palace, the gift, and the tree.

The duck had many different feelings when he stretched his wings and flew upward. He felt excited that he might finally find the answer to his question. He felt scared because he didn’t know whether he would ever understand the riddle. And he also felt happy because it was a beautiful day. As he went up into the sky, he looked down at the ground and saw how sparkling sunlight filled the autumn leaves, the golden fields, the deep forests, the little villages, and the river, which was shimmering like fire. His heart was filled with thankfulness to the creator of everything for making all of this, and he almost forgot his question when he quacked out loud to say thank you. It was a happy morning.

He kept going for a long time until he came to a city. He saw a palace nearby. The duck was curious because he had never seen a king or queen, so he flew down to one of the windows and looked inside. Because it was too dark to see, he decided to go inside and quietly waddle around the palace. It took a lot of courage for a village duck to go inside such an unfamiliar place, but when he came to the throne his breath was taken away. He saw a friendly and majestic king sitting next to a beautiful queen. When poor people came to the king they always brought a small gift, the best that they could afford, and the king gave them a very beautiful gift as well. Everyone was happy. The duck decided that from now on, he would call the creator of everything a king, because the experience reminded him of what it was like to know his maker and be given kindness in so many things every day. He could hardly contain his heart when he heard someone saying that it was the king’s birthday. He knew that this was the palace and the gift that his mother had dreamt about.

When he flew out from the palace gates, it was becoming dark. Because he felt hungry, the duck stopped on his way home to find something to eat. Sweet fruit was lying in the grass on the ground near a tree, and before he ate it he stopped for a minute to bless his maker for making things so good for him to eat when he was hungry. And he realised how all the experiences had come to teach him something. He knew that nothing he had seen during the day was actually God, because everything he saw was created by the his maker. But all the things he saw with his eyes helped him to see God in his heart. He knew that he could come close to the creator of everything by saying thank you for gifts he experienced during the day. He also came closerby obeying what God had told him to do through his mother’s dream. And when he thought about the king, he realised that Hashem is not a small king who can walk in a room, and He doesn’t have a birthday. He doesn’t look like a created human. But in his heart, the duck knew that God is like a King of the world. His eyes couldn’t see Him, but his heart could really know Him closely.

When the duck came home, he was very tired and he fell asleep. In the morning he woke up and went for a long swim with his mother, telling her about his adventure and what he learnt. She felt humble and thankful in her heart, and joyful to learn all these things. But she had one question left. “Didn’t the boy ask whether it would be possible to see God when moshiach comes? So what will it be like then?” Just as she asked, she heard children running by the river and playing. Some of them were singing a song that their parents had taught them. The mother duck and her son listened with interest. It sounded like a love song, which they were singing to the creator. They must love Him very deeply. They were asking Him to cover them with peace and make the world shine with His brightness, so they could finally see it. They asked Him to show love, just like He gave them gifts in the olden days, so that they would be full of joy and close to Him.

“I can’t imagine how beautiful that will be,” the duck whispered to his mother when they finished singing. “I wonder what the olden days were like.”

His mother replied to him, “You could follow them home and learn more.” So that is what he did. Every day he flew to the village to learn, and he came home to tell the stories he heard to his mother and his friends. When he met his wife, he always loved to tell stories to her and to all their tiny ducklings, who loved swimming in the sunlight. Their hearts were able to see Hashem more and more every day.

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8 thoughts on “a story.

  1. The basic idea is that seeing, touching, and hearing are not the only way of communicating at a very deep and absolutely close level. Just because God isn’t finite and tangible doesn’t mean we can’t know Him personally and intimately, and come to know Him and meet with Him even more.

  2. Thanks. I wrote it for a child who said the other day that he just wants to see Hashem. I’m learning that we come to know Him at a level even deeper than our senses when we realise thankfulness for all the things we can sense of His creation… when we learn to seek Him and therefore know more closely what He wants us to obey Him in… our hearts can see Him. So I wanted to try and get that across in a story.

    • If I get some good ideas! But I don’t think I’m very clear yet with writing so I need to work on that. It’s hard to find a balance between not relying on allegory (i.e. trying to put insights into the resonance of the atmosphere more than the symbolism) while also being able to clearly communicate the heart of the story ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I totally agree. Allegory takes away from creative process of the writer. Unfortunately Allegory has a way of manifesting itself when left unchecked lol.

    โ€œI cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history โ€“ true or feignedโ€“ with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.โ€-Tolkien

    • Right. I think I aim for the feeling of ‘applicability’ while holding onto the author-domination… haha ๐Ÿ™‚ What I mean is, stories are written to bring something across to the readers… an idea, a feeling, an experience… and it shouldn’t have to be a free for all where the author’s heart doesn’t come across in shape through the cloak of the story. But I want to shatter the allegory well enough that various parts evoke various ideas, and it can’t simply be said ‘this means that’. Then it feels like history. I think that this is what Tolkien did as well, hiding and scattering aspects of symbolism through the objects, characters, and places of his stories to give them real depth and deep, intricate, lifelike, and meaningful patterns.

      Unfortunately, when a story is told as a parable (as this one was), that approach can also cause confusion and make it hard to hear what was being said.

  4. Lol I understand where you are coming ,and like you said before it is most definitely a fine line. Trying to convey a thought without holding your reader by the hand is most definitely a challenge, however, when done successfully it must be a very rewarding experience. i suppose one must have faith in the intelligence of their readers or faith in themselves that they were able to convey their thoughts properly.

    haha agreed i have confused many people with poorly executed parables so i try not to use them unless i have obsessively gone over them several times. parables are most definitely an art form.

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