One of my favorite types of stories is of the trickster. In the United States we have Brer Rabbit or even Bugs Bunny (kids give you a blank look when you expect them to know who that is.) The trickster is like to tell you about today is Hershel of Ostropol.
Hershel is a Jewish folk character that may have been a real person. We will talk about him again in December — I love his Hanukkah story. But I wanted to find more stories about him to share with my fourth grade students. I found some great ones right on the Wikipedia page as well as a wealth of other Jewish sites.
Here is the one that literally had me laughing out loud at my desk.
When Hershele was a child, he had a number of brothers and sisters, of which he was the smallest. Thus, whenever they had a meal, he’d be the last to get anything. As a result, whenever they had goose, he never got to eat a foot, which was his favorite part. One evening, he snuck into the kitchen before dinner and cut a foot off of the goose, slipping it under his shirt to hide.
During dinner, his father noticed that Hershele’s shirt was grease-stained and that the goose’s left foot was missing.
– “Hershele,” he said. “Did you take the goose’s foot?”
– “No, father,” he said. “Maybe it was a one-footed goose.”
– “A one-footed goose? There’s no such thing!”
– “Sure there is. I’ll take you to see one after dinner.”
That evening, Hershele took his father out to a lake near their village. A flock of geese were sleeping on the banks, each tucking one foot into its body so that only the other was visible.
– “There’s one,” said Hershele, pointing. Thinking to outsmart his son, his father clapped, waking the goose and causing it to lower its other leg.
– “There. Now, Hershele, will you admit that you stole-”
– “Wow, father! You just clapped and the goose grew a foot! Why didn’t you do that to the one at the table?”
How can you not love this guy!