Parables of the Sages – Tales from the Past. Three new stamps introduced by Israeli Post

Parables of the Sages – Tales from the Past. Three new stamps introduced by Israeli Post
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In Rabbinic literature, in both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds and the Midrashim, we find many parables—some relating to plant life and others to animal life. These are, in fact, fables: very short stories in which plants or animals speak, feel, and act as humans in every way. The stories have a moral and teach a lesson. The Sages called these stories "fox parables" or "palm parables".

StampNews.com is glad to inform that Israeli Post has prepared for issuing three special stamps depicting the brightest scenes from the parables. The three stamps in this series are based on the Parables of the Sages, which are notably similar to some of Aesop's Fables.

Fables flourished in Ancient Greece, where Aesop's Fables originated. The first anthology attributed to Aesop was known as early as the 3rd century BCE. The broad contacts between Greek and Israelite cultures in the Hellenistic period brought Aesop’s fables into our literature as well.

The Fox in the Vineyard

A fox saw a vineyard of ripe grapes and wished to taste them. The hole he found in the fence was too small for him to pass through, so he fasted for three days, entered the vineyard, and feasted on grapes until he was full. When he then tried to leave, he was again forced to fast for three days in order to fit through the hole in the fence. What pleasure, then, did he derive from the vineyard?

Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 5:21; the language of the fable is a mix of Hebrew and Aramaic. The Hebrew translation is found in Ch.N.Bialik-Y.Ch. Ravnitzky, Sefer Ha’Aggada,  ed. with a new commentary by A. Shinan, 2015, pg. 1008. The Aesopian equivalent is found in Sh. Shpan, Aesop's Fables, 1961, fable 204, pg. 99 [Hebrew].

The Lion and the Heron

A bone got stuck in a lion's throat as it ate its prey. The lion promised a reward to anyone who could dislodge the bone. The Egyptian Ammoperdix (which is what the bird is called in the Midrash) used its long beak to perform the task. When he came to claim his reward the lion said to him: Is it not enough that you escaped the jaws of the lion, now you seek a reward, as well?

Midrash Genesis Rabbah 64:10, the language of the fable is a mix of Hebrew and Aramaic. The Hebrew translation is found in Sefer Ha’Aggada (see above), pg. 1007; the Aesopian equivalent is found in Shpan, Aesop’s Fables (see above), fable 41, pg. 28.

The Reed and the Cedar

The mighty cedar with its many roots can be uprooted by a strong wind. The reed, which is supple and flexible, bends in the wind and suffers no harm. The moral: A Man should always be as gentle as the reed and never as unyielding as the cedar.

Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anith  20a, the fable is written in Hebrew. Sefer Ha’Aggada (see above), pg. 1010; the Aesopian equivalent is found in Shpan, Aesop’s Fables (see above), fable 338, pg. 160.

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