The serpent and the firefly

Some years ago I rushed to downtown Roanoke for a picture. I learned that an artist was taking pictures of people and printing them as big posters to be hung all over the city. I wanted to see myself on a big poster I hurried so I could be included in this exciting project.


Three weeks ago the United Synagogue calendar arrived at home and again, I was pictured (nicer this time!) in a big poster. My face is included in a high profile way in homes across the country!

How can a person manage his/her ego? How is it possible not to succumb to the temptation of pride or egotism?

Maybe, being “sameach b’chelko”, happy with your own share, helps a bit. It helps at least to reduce jealousy and envy.

I wanted to share with you a story that may help to illustrate this point.

Once upon a time, there was a serpent that was persecuting a firefly. The poor firefly fled from the ferocious predator, using all the energy created by fear to speed him along.

The serpent, however, never considered giving up his pursuit, so he chased the poor firefly who ran away. Again on the second day, the serpent chased and the firefly ran away.

The ordeal continued, until the third day.

Without the strength to continue, the lighting bug stopped and asked the serpent, “May I ask you three questions?”

The serpent said with a haughty tone, “I’m not used to answering anyone, but since I am going to devour you, you can ask me anything.”

So, the firefly asked, “Am I part of your food chain?”

“No,” answered the serpent

“Did I hurt you or provoke you in any way?” asked the firefly.

“No,” repeated the serpent.

Finally, the firefly asked, “So, why do you want to devour me?”

“Well,” said the serpent, “because I can’t stand to see your shining light.”

I was happy with the poster size Fabian from those years ago in Roanoke. I’m also excited to be part of the highly visible USCJ calendar this year. I don’t plan to allow any serpent to appear in my life and steal my light.

We have every reason to be proud of our life’s accomplishments. I encourage you to let your light shine and also be sensitive of the way that light may influence and even affect others.

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin

1 comment

You are indeed a beacon of light!

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