classical and the earliest Indian collections; some
in the later collections; some in the classics, but
not in the Indian lists; some in India, but not in
the Latin and Greek authors. Among the latter
is the well-known fable of the Fox and the Fishes
used so dramatically by Rabbi Akiba. The original
Talmudic fables are, according to Mr. J. Jacobs, the
following: Chaff, Straw, and Wheat
dispute for which of them the seed has been sown:
the winnowing fan soon decides; The Caged Bird
who is envied by his free fellow; The Wolf and the
, who have quarrelled; the wolf seizes
one, the other goes to his rival’s aid, fearing
the same fate himself on the morrow, unless he helps
the other dog to-day; The Wolf at the Well
the mouth of the well is covered with a net:
“If I go down into the well,” says the
wolf, “I shall be caught. If I do not descend,
I shall die of thirst”; The Cock and the
, who sit together waiting for the sunrise:
“I wait for the dawn,” said the cock,
“for the light is my signal; but as for thee—the
light is thy ruin”; and, finally, what Mr. Jacobs
calls the grim beast-tale of the Fox as Singer
in which the beasts—invited by the lion
to a feast, and covered by him with the skins of wild
beasts—are led by the fox in a chorus:
“What has happened to those above us, will happen
to him above,” implying that their host, too,
will come to a violent death. In the context
the fable is applied to Haman, whose fate, it is augured,
will resemble that of the two officers whose guilt
Such fables are used in the Talmud to point religious
or even political morals, very much as the parables
were. The fable, however, took a lower flight
than the parable, and its moral was based on expediency,
rather than on the highest ethical ideals. The
importance of the Talmudic fables is historical more
than literary or religious. Hebrew fables supply
one of the links connecting the popular literature
of the East with that of the West. But they hardly
belong in the true sense to Jewish literature.
Parables, on the other hand, were an essential and
characteristic branch of that literature.
Vol. XVI, p. 285.
Graetz.—II, p. 328  seq.
pp. 5 seq.,
L.N. Dembitz.—Jewish Services in
Synagogue and Home
(Jewish Publication Society of America,
1898), p. 44.
J. Jacobs.—The Fables of AEsop (London,
p. 110 seq.
Read also Schechter, Studies in Judaism, p.
and J.Q.R., (Kohler), V, p. 399;
VII, p. 581;
(Bacher) IV, p. 406; (Davis) VIII, p.
529; (Abrahams) I, p. 216;
II, p. 172; Chenery, Legends from the
of the Society of Hebrew Literature,