Ten Days of Teshuva
Yosef Zev Braver: Ki Lo Yidach

The Iron Elephant

Iron Elephant

Here's a Lazer fable for you:

A group of mighty Watusi hunters were walking home to their village at the end of the day's hunt. They reached a narrow clearing, but there path was blocked by a big truck. The chief said to his ten fellow tribesman, "Come, let's push this iron elephant out of our way." They pushed and pushed, but the truck barely budged.

Suddenly, a European-looking man in a safari suit emerged from the jungle. He saw the Watusis trying to push his truck out of their way, and offered in perfect Watusi dialect, "Excuse me, gentleman; I'll be happy to move the truck out of your way. In fact, it will be my privilege to give you a lift back to your village."

The chief and his tribesman were flabbergasted. Not only did they refuse to believe that the frail-looking European could succeed in moving an iron elephant on his own, but to carry them back to their village, all eleven of them? He must be deranged, they thought.

The European produced a key chain from his pocket, and waved it before the the chief's nose. "With the aid of this modest key, I shall move the truck and carry you home!"

"Labumba!", said the Watusis to each other, spinning their forefingers around their foreheads, indicating that the stranger was a fool.

The European unlocked the door to the truck, climbed aboard, put the key in the ignition, turned the switch, stepped on the gas, and VARROOOOOMM! Scared out of their wits from the roar of the 425-horsepower Detroit engine, the Watusis scattered in eleven different directions, mostly up. Now, watching from the treetops, they saw the iron elephant cruise merrily away, with no one even pushing...

To this day, the watusi chief is still scratching his head: "How could a little key move an iron elephant, when eleven mighty Watusis could not?"


Most of us aren't much smarter than the Watusis. We think that we can accomplish something only by physical means. Oftentimes we push for something and knock our brains out, yet we achieve minor results, that is, if we don't do damage to ourselves first. It takes tons of explosives to penetrate a reinforced enemy bunker, but if you have a key, you can peacefully walk right in the front door. Oh yes, we all have a general belief that there's a G-d in heaven who runs the show, but few of us really believe in the power of prayer - that Hashem really listens to us. Otherwise, we'd be putting a lot more effort into sincere prayer and spirituality.

Prayer is the tiny little ignition key that can move the iron elephant where the mighty hunters could not.

With all the problems left over from 5776, and staring us in the face from the outset of 5777, it's about time we learned to pray. The Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the best time to start. By the way, it's hard to push a stubborn elephant...

May you and yours be signed in the Book of Life for a wonderful New Year 5777, amen!