Should a good deed be rewarded? When we help a friend in need, do we expect something in return? In this fable found in the ancient Midrash, a particularly brave stork helps a lion who has a bone lodged in its throat:
There was a lion that was eating its prey when a bone got caught in its throat. The lion said: Whoever will come and extract the bone will receive a reward. An Egyptian heron with a long beak came. It put its beak inside the lion's mouth, and removed the bone. Then it said to the lion: Give me my reward. Answered the lion: Go and boast saying that you entered a lion's mouth intact and that you came out of it intact – for there is no greater reward.
[According to Genesis Rabbah 64:10 in Sefer HaAggadah edited by Hayim Nahman Bialik and Yehoshua Hana Rawnitzki]
In this fable, found in the Midrash, the strong lion claims that the heron, who emerged out of its mouth intact, should be happy and content with that, instead of asking for an additional reward. In The Lion and the Bone, the lion offers this story as a reward for the stork's help, and who knows – perhaps it is thanks to that reward that this ancient fable is being told to this day?
Reading together, experiencing together