The cow doesn’t give milk

The cow doesn’t give milk.

Both of my grandfathers Z”L were cowboys. The lived in a small town in the rural Argentina called Moises Ville. They spent most of their lives riding horses, taking care of their cattle and working hard. Their hands were not smooth at all and I think that as I grow older, I appreciate their rough hands more and more.

The cow doesn’t give milk. I learned this lesson from my beloved Jewish cowboy grandparents and from my parents as well.

Yes, this is not what you may have learned when you were younger but it is the truth. The cow doesn’t give milk. You need to milk it. In order to milk it, you need to wake up very early, walk through a field, usually filled with excrement, tie the cow’s tail and its legs, sit down on a low stool, place the bucket in the appropriate spot, and then do the right movements (because you do not know how to do it, it takes longer, much longer).

So, the cow doesn’t give milk. Or you work for the milk or you don’t get it. Don’t worry – there is more to this entry than cows and their milk!

We live in a world where we look for instant gratification and rewards. We hit a button and we have almost everything. There is no longer a need to look at a map; Waze does it for us. We don’t have to develop film, CVS does it for us – and even that is rare because we all have digital cameras in our pockets. We don’t have to read the news, Twitter and Instagram do it for us.

Some people believe that each of these things is automatic, free, effortless. You wish it, you get it.

Our kids are learning that as well.

In our tradition the cow is a very controversial animal.

We all remember the incident with the golden calf. This is the  biggest mistake ever for the Jewish people.

In fact we learn in the Mishna “All shofars are valid (kosher) except that of a cow” (Rosh ha-Shanah 3.2). We do not want to start a new year by blowing the horn of an animal that reminds us of our biggest sin.

On the other hand the “parah adumah”, the red heifer’s ashes were used in a formula to purify those who became impure. Also many bulls were slaughtered in the altar as offerings to God as well.

It seems that the latter examples can be seen in some way a make up for the sin of the golden calf. Our ancestors learned how to “repair” their mistake.

Maybe it is time to teach our kids the other side of the coin. The cow doesn’t give milk. We need to work hard to get that milk. It’s a good reminder for all of us!


Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin

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