Fabian Werbin

The pig and the chicken

There’s a well-known parable about a pig and a chicken. The pig and the chicken were strolling down the street when they passed by a diner offering breakfast. The sign at the diner’s entrance read: “Breakfast: bacon and eggs.”

The chicken smiled, but the pig began to cry. The chicken asked the pig why it was crying, and the pig replied, “You don’t understand. You merely provide the eggs for breakfast and move on, while for me to provide the bacon, I have to be slaughtered.”

Growing up in the Diaspora, I’ve always been troubled by this parable, not just because of the kashrut challenge. We, Jews living in the diaspora, feel the pain in our bodies and souls when one of our Israeli soldiers dies. Despite sitting in the comfort of our homes in Sidney, Buenos Aires, New York, or Paris, we feel the tragedy as our own because we are one people. It’s painful and hurtful, but it’s different because the chicken is involved, while the pig is committed. (Please note that these animal references are solely for the purpose of the parable and not for any other reason, God forbid.)

As Jews living in the Diaspora, we contribute resources, educate our children to love Israel, write letters to the soldiers, and call our Israeli relatives and friends. But they are the ones who send their kids to the IDF.

I studied in Israel for a total of three years in two different periods of time. One of them was during the Second Intifada. I did not serve in the IDF (hard to admit, but remember, I am a chicken), yet I felt and feel indescribable pain for every victim of a terror attack and every fallen soldier.

I stay connected to Israeli news, striving to remain informed and updated, but my cousins are the ones serving in the IDF. I provide the eggs, but they provide the bacon. They defend us with their own bodies.

The tragic events of October 7 opened the eyes of many around the world. The antisemitic events that followed must open the eyes of all of us. Sadly, it seems that there is an intention out there to change the menu, to serve chicken and bacon.

Pittsburgh, Poway, Colleyville…

In America, we won’t be sending our kids to the IDF, but we will be sending them to college, where Jewish students are hearing the same words that Hamas leaders use to threaten Israelis.

For the first time ever, probably, the chicken and pig are hearing the same language but also speaking the same language.

According to the Midrash, King Solomon, the smartest person who ever walked the earth, understood the language of the animals. Ironically, he is one of the few people whose daily diet we know precisely. In the first book of Kings, at the end of chapter four, it is written: “Solomon’s daily provisions were thirty cores of the finest flour and sixty cores of meal, ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty of pasture-fed cattle, a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks, and choice fowl. For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. During Solomon’s lifetime, Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and fig tree.”

Solomon’s diet: no bacon, no chicken, and peace on all sides.

Now that Jews everywhere speak the same language, we, united, need to win this war, and we, united, have a common goal, to convince everyone else to become vegetarian.

At the end of the day, we all look toward the Land of Milk and Honey with hope.

Am Israel Chai!

About the Author
Fabian Werbin is the rabbi of Kol Shalom, Rockville, MD. He was born and raised in Argentina, married to Patricia and father of 4 children. Since 2008 he resides in the US.
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