Anecdote: The Poor Man and his Little House

A poor man lived with his wife and six children in a very small one-room house. They were always getting in each other’s way and there was so little space they could hardly breathe!

Finally the man could stand it no more. He talked to his wife and asked her what to do. "Go see the rabbi," she told him, and after arguing a while, he went.

The rabbi greeted him and said, "I see something is troubling you. Whatever it is, you can tell me."

And so the poor man told the rabbi how miserable things were at home with him, his wife, and the six children all eating and living and sleeping in one room. The poor man told the rabbi, "We’re even starting to yell and fight with each other. Life couldn’t be worse."

The rabbi thought very deeply about the poor man’s problem. Then he said, "Do exactly as I tell you and things will get better. Do you promise?"

"I promise," the poor man said.

The rabbi then asked the poor man a strange question. "Do you own any animals?"

"Yes," he said. "I have one cow, one goat, and some chickens."

"Good," the rabbi said. "When you get home, take all the animals into your house to live with you."

The poor man was astonished to hear this advice from the rabbi, but he had promised to do exactly what the rabbi said. So he went home and took all the farm animals into the tiny one-room house.

The next week the poor man ran back to see the rabbi. "What have you done to me, Rabbi?" he cried. "It’s awful. The goat is smashing up all the furniture and eating everything in sight! It’s so cramped we can hardly move! With the cow, it smells like we’re living in a stable! And the chickens are making a racket everywhere! Can human beings live with an animal like this?"

The rabbi said sweetly, "My friend, you are right. May God bless you. Go home now and take animals out of your house."

The poor man went quickly home and took the cow out of the house.

The next day he came running back to the rabbi again. "O Rabbi," he said with a big smile on his face, "we have such a good life now! The house is so quiet and we’ve got so much ROOM! What a joy!"

Moral: Sometimes it takes a little change of perspective to let you appreciate how much you have.

Source: "How the Children Became Stars" by Aaron Zerah, http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Parenting/2000/10/Teaching-Tales-The-Way-You-Like-It.aspx

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