This series is dedicated to the loving memory of Rabbi Moshe David Averick, l’illui nishmas Moshe David ben Naftali Yosef HaLevi v’Leah. May his neshama have an aliyah.

אַחַר אֵיזֶה זְמַן רָמַז וְהִשְׁלִיכוּ לָהֶם מִכְנָסַיִם. וְאָמַר לוֹ גַּם כֵּן כְּנֶּאֱמַר לְעֵיל, ‘אַתָּה חוֹשֵׁב שֶׁעִם מִכְנָסַיִם לֹא יְכוֹלִים לִהְיוֹת הִינְדִּיק וְכוּ’ עַד שֶׁלָּבְשׁוּ הַמִּכְנָסַיִם, וְכֵן עִם שְׁאָר הַבְּגָדִים

After some time, he signaled [to an attendant] and they threw pants to them. And he said to him, just as before, “You think that if we go with pants, we are not able to be a turkey, [but we still can be a turkey] etc.,” until they donned the pants, and so [the wise man did] with the rest of the clothing.

Now, the story would seem to continue with a repetition of the last step of growth for the prince. Though this would be so, there seem to be a few minor points that should still be borne out.

Firstly, the order in which the Wise Man chose to tackle clothing the prince seems reversed. Wouldn’t one think to first try and clothe the private regions before the bear chest? Upon closer examination, however, it seems that the action of the Wise Man is precise and is actually the very point the Wise Man is avoiding. The Wise Man specifically tackles an article of clothing that allows the prince to still identify as a turkey, as he is still, for all intents and purposes, undressed. One might notice that many anthropomorphic depictions in cartoons have the animal wearing a top and nothing more (i.e. Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh). It would seem this artistic decision is motivated by a desire to keep the fact that this is an animal in the core of one’s mind.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, one’s externalities can be the last to go. Therefore, it would seem that tackling the shirt circumvents this point, as the self-identifying turkey is still quite bare.

Lastly, we must note that the Wise Man does not clump all the changes of clothing together. Instead, one area of growth is tackled at a time. As the adage of the Gemara states, “One who grasps a lot, doesn’t grasp at all, but the one who grasps for a bit, he will retain it.” (Rosh Hashanah 4b).

Though the idea that one should always endeavor to grow in a slow and steady fashion is a common one, is there a Torah source for this? The Chasam Sofer explains the following, in the context of explaining the necessity of the Chumash to list all the journeys of the Bnei Yisrael in the Sinai desert:

Understand that they encamped in the encampment until they left the current particular level they were on and reached the next one. It then became necessary for them to travel to the next location…

Chasam Sofer, Nasso, 33:2

Rabbi Daniel Mordechai Meisels, a very close friend of mine, suggests that an even clearer source of the necessity to take steps towards acquiring the Torah is seen in the commandment of Sefiras HaOmer (see Vayikra 23:15). This idea is corroborated by the holy words of the Maor VaShemesh:

And it is known that the intent of counting the Omer is to draw light from on high onto the community of Yisrael, and for the community of Yisrael go up from one level to the next level until the day of the giving of our Torah.

Maor VaShemesh, Machar Chodesh Haftarah, “Hanaar”.

Here, too, the Wise Man acts wisely, with measured steps, understanding the natural order of growth.

We have learned that the prince was tackling one area of growth and self-identity at a time. However, it should also be noted that in the current section of the story, we find that the Wise Man’s strategy was even more focused, zoning in on a particular progression within the general realm of attempting to clothe the prince.

Rabbi Nachum Aaron Kutnowski
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