Life Isn’t Only Puppies

Did you hear the story about the dog and the elephant who became pregnant on the same day? Three months later, the dog gave birth to six adorable puppies. When those puppies were three months old, the dog became pregnant for a second time, and three months after that, she gave birth again.

Nine months after the day that the dog and the elephant both became pregnant, the dog was the mother of twelve adorable puppies. Some were older and full of energy and learning to play and work together. Some were brand new, needing her all the time, with eyes still closed. When those brand new puppies were three months old, the mother became pregnant again.

This pattern continued for eighteen months. By that time, the dog had two dozen furry, friendly offspring. She was happy and proud and surrounded by loved ones. She felt good. And also a bit unsure about what was going on with the elephant who had conceived on the same day.

So the dog approached the elephant and said, “Are you sure you’re pregnant? We conceived on the same day. I’ve given birth to two dozen beautiful, wonderful, warm and loving puppies, many of whom have grown to become dogs already. And you are still pregnant. What is going on?”

Before I tell you what happened next, I want to ask you:


In this week’s Torah portion, we read about Noah and the Ark. Remember that song, Rise and Shine?

🎵 The Lord said to Noah, there’s gonna be a floody, floody… 🎵

Anyway, God told Noah there was going to be a flood to destroy everything. God was fed up with people and animals. They all had to go. Except for Noah, who was a righteous and pure man in his generation (so, like, compared to everyone else…). Noah and his wife and their three sons and daughters-in-law would survive on the ark, and so would representatives of all the animals.

🎵 The animals they came on, they came on by two-sies, two-sies… 🎵

And when all were aboard who were going aboard, the flood began. “All the fountains of the great deep burst apart, and the floodgates of the sky broke open. It rained on the earth for forty days and forty nights.”

Or if you prefer:

🎵 It rained and poured for forty days-ies, days-ies… 🎵

Forty days after the rain began to fall, it stopped.

Do you know what else happened for forty days? When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, he was there for forty days and forty nights. Remember Jonah who got swallowed by the whale? After the whale spit him out, Jonah spent 40 days warning the people of Ninveh that they needed to change their ways so their city would be saved. And of course the Children of Israel were in the desert for 40 years after leaving Egypt.

It’s possible that in the Bible, the number forty means forty. But it’s also possible that it means a


At the end of each of these really long periods of time, something really big happened. The city of Ninveh was spared. Moses got the Ten Commandments (both times). The Israelites finally arrived at the promised land. And with Noah: the flood destroying the world stopped and he could begin anew.

And as for that elephant who was still pregnant a really long time after she conceived, this is what she told the dog: “What I have in here is not a puppy, it is an elephant. It takes nearly two years for it to grow. When my baby hits the ground, the earth feels it. When my baby stands in the road, people stop and watch in admiration. What I am carrying is mighty and great and draws attention.”

Did an elephant really say that to a dog? Did the animals really board the ark two by two?

Either way, both these stories are a reminder, at least to me, that big changes are preceded by a period of discomfort that can feel like it lasts for a


Sometimes we really want to move things along. Get those puppies out into the world already. But it’s not always puppies. That time is necessary in order to arrive at the post-flood, received-the-commandments, saved-the-city, arrived-at-the-promised-land, birthed-a-creation-that-shook-the-earth new version of you. And that is always worth waiting for.

About the Author
Esther Goldenberg is the author of several books, including the forthcoming three novels of biblical fiction: The Scrolls of Deborah, Seventeen Spoons, and The Song of the Bluebird. When she’s not going for early morning walks in her beautiful neighborhood in northern Israel, or taking drumming classes, she can be found bombarding her son and daughter with questions about their thoughts on ancient Egypt. To get previews of the books or to be notified when they're are available, sign up at
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