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The Small House


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A long, long, time ago there was a farmer named Mr. Cohen who lived with his wife and two daughters. The house was very small but very clean. Mr. Cohen did not have much land, but he was able to keep a few cows, sheep, a goat or two, some chickens, a donkey and a horse.

The donkey and horse were used to plough the land. His wife kept a small vegetable garden. Mr. Cohen was not rich, but the family always made enough money from selling milk, cheese, eggs, and vegetables.

You would think that Mr. Cohen was content. However, Mr. Cohen's neighbour was very rich. He lived in a great big house with his wife and children and maids and servants. He had horses, but these horses were not working horses. They were only for riding.

Mrs. Cohen was jealous of the neighbour’s large house, of the maids and servants, and of the horses that were only used for riding. She nagged Mr. Cohen constantly. She wanted a larger house, she wanted maids and servants, she wanted fine horses which were only used for riding. With all this nagging, Mr. Cohen had no peace of mind.



Mr. Cohen knew he couldn't afford a larger house, but he was tired of his wife's constant nagging. He decided to consult the Rabbi - the learned man of his village. "I am going to speak to our Rabbi," Mr. Cohen told his wife. "Maybe he can come up with a way for us to get a larger house."

So one evening after work he went up the hill to the Rabbi's home. "Good evening Rabbi," said Mr. Cohen.

"Good evening, Mr. Cohen" said the Rabbi. "Can I help you with something?"

"Yes," said Mr. Cohen. "Rabbi, as you know, we are not rich. We have a small house, which we are able to take care of with the small amount of money we receive from selling our crops, eggs and milk. But my wife is jealous of our neighbour’s wealth - of their larger house, maids, servants and riding horses. Day in and day out she nags me to get a larger house. But we can't afford a larger house. Rabbi, do you have any suggestions for what I can do to please her?"

The Rabbi thought for a few moments. Then he looked at Mr. Cohen and said, "You have chickens, do you not?"

"Yes, Rabbi, we have chickens," said Mr. Cohen. "Well, then, bring them into your house this evening."

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Mr. Cohen just stared at the Rabbi. Then he thought to himself, "The Rabbi is the town's most learned man. If the Rabbi thinks that bringing the chickens into the house will help, then I will not question him."

So Mr. Cohen returned home and told his wife what the Rabbi said. Then he brought the chickens into the house. The chickens proceeded to squawk and complain, and flew around the house. Chicken feathers were everywhere!

And in the morning, there were chickens everywhere, scrambling this way and that. Mrs. Cohen complained, "I don't understand how bringing the chickens into the house will get us a bigger house. Maybe you misunderstood the Rabbi. Go back and ask him again."

So that evening, Mr. Cohen went to the Rabbi's house. "Good evening, Rabbi," he said.

"Good evening, Mr. Cohen," said the Rabbi. "Can I help you with something?"



"Yes, Rabbi," said Mr. Cohen. "Yesterday I asked you to suggest a way I could please my wife's wish for a bigger house and you told me to bring the chickens into the house. Now we have chicken feathers everywhere and my wife is not happy. Rabbi, can you help me please?"

The Rabbi thought for a moment. Then he said, "You have goats, don't you?"

"Yes, Rabbi" we have goats."

"Well then, bring them into the house tonight," Mr. Cohen stared at the Rabbi for a minute, then proceeded down the hill to his home and brought the goats into his house.

And the goats started whining, which made the chickens complain. Then the goats started to chew on everything, making a real mess. Needless to say, Mrs. Cohen was not happy which made Mr. Cohen even more unhappy.

"Go back to the Rabbi," Mrs. Cohen said, "and ask him again. I am sure that you are misunderstanding what he is saying."

So the next evening Mr. Cohen went up the hill to see the Rabbi.

The Rabbi told him to bring the cows into his house! And the next night he brought in the sheep, and the next night the donkey, and the next night the horse!

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The house was so crowded that the family couldn't find a place to sit or sleep. It was so noisy that they couldn't hear themselves think! And you can imagine how it smelled. Mrs. Cohen was beside herself, and Mr. Cohen didn't know what to do. The Rabbi had never given them bad advice before!

So Mr. Cohen went up the hill back to the Rabbi. "Rabbi," he said. "Far be it for me to question a man of your knowledge and learning, but it has become impossible to live in our house. And the noise - Rabbi - you can't imagine how noisy it is! Please Rabbi, you have got to help me!"

The Rabbi thought for a moment. Then he said, "Tonight take the horse out and put him back in the field.

"Thank you Rabbi," said Mr. Cohen. And he bounded down the hill and let the horse go back outside. But of course the house was still crowded. So the following night Mr. Cohen went back up the hill to the Rabbi, and again asked for his help. And the Rabbi told him to take the donkey out of the house. The next night the Rabbi told him to take out the sheep, and the next night, the cows, and the next night the goat, and finally the next night the chickens.

After the chickens were gone, Mrs. Cohen looked around at her large house. "How peaceful it is," she said, ”and how nice and roomy." And she proceeded to clean up her large, peaceful house and never again complained to her husaband about her life!

Swami says, “Contentment is the most precious treasure” and “He who has greatest satisfaction in life is the richest man”. Let us be grateful to the Lord for what we are bestowed with and make the most of it rather than compare ourselves with others and feel ever miserable. When we trust Him completely, He will provide us with the right things at the right time.

Illustrations: Ms Vidya, Kuwait

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 5 Issue 03 - MARCH 2007
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