Off the Pulpit

Learning From The Animals

In Myanmar they tell a story about horses. The story goes that horses were originally created without teeth. The cow has teeth only on the bottom and water buffaloes only have teeth on the top. Originally they both had full sets of teeth. The poor horse came to the cow and said, “Look, you have top and bottom teeth and I have none. Would you consider giving me your top teeth so we can at least both have some?” The cow good-naturedly agreed. The horse then went to the water buffalo and asked that he share his bottom teeth. The Water buffalo also agreed. So the horse, who started out with nothing, ended up with teeth on the top and the bottom.
And that, says the Burmese legend, is why horses laugh.
Lessons from animals, scientific or mythic, exist in Judaism as well. The Talmud teaches us to learn modesty from the cat and fidelity from the dove. The Bible counsels us to imitate the ant’s industry, and the Mishnah urges us to be bold as a leopard and swift as an eagle to do God’s will.
To which I would add, since we have teeth top and bottom, learn to laugh.