King Solomon had the gift of understanding the language of all the animals, including the birds and the bees.
One day, as Solomon was walking in the royal gardens, he overheard two birds talking on a branch of a pomegranate tree. One bird said to the other, “My love, I would do anything in the world for you.”
“Is that really true?” questioned the other bird.
“Yes, It is absolutely true. I would do anything and everything you would ask for or wish for. Would you like me to destroy King Solomon’s Tower, where his throne room is located? Ask it and I will do it happily,” answered the first bird.
When Solomon heard this boast, he became furious. He returned to his throne room and tried to calm his anger. So he strode over to the window and called for the bird he had heard boast to come to his window.
When the bird heard that Solomon spoke his own language, he felt very important and proud. He flew immediately to the window where Solomon was waiting impatiently.
“Yes, Your Majesty, I came as quickly as my wings would allow me to fly. How can I serve you, Your Majesty?” asked the little bird.
“I overheard what you said to someone in the pomegranate tree. You are an arrogant impudent little bunch of feathers! How dare you even think you could destroy the tower of my throne room?”
“Please, Your Majesty, let me explain,” pleaded the little bird, now shaking and trembling before the great king.
“Very well, explain yourself,” replied Solomon, still shaking with fury.
“Your Majesty,” said the little bird, “you are the wisest man in the world and yet you have lost your logic and intelligence if you think I could ever do what I had said. You see, I was talking with my lady-love. As you may have forgotten, it is the way of talking between lovers to state exaggerated boasts to the beloved. In that way my love will be impressed and love me back. All I was doing was telling tall tales to my love in order to find favor in her eyes.”
King Solomon gave a hearty laugh when he heard this explanation. “Ah, yes, I had forgotten about the boasts between lovers. Return to your lady-love and continue telling your tall tales.”
The little bird returned to the branch and his love bird was waiting for him. The bird said to her, “Do you know why King Solomon called for me? Come closer and I’ll whisper it to you. Solomon had heard what I planned to do and he begged me not to destroy the tower of his throne room. I listened to his pleading and my heart softened. Of course, I promised that I would not destroy his tower, after all. What do you think of that, my fair love?”
And the two love birds winged their way to their feathered nest.
— Peninnah Schram, based on Louis Ginzberg’s “The Legends of the Jews,” and on Hayyim Nahman Bialik’s “And It Came to Pass.” From “Jewish Stories of Love and Marriage” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Penninah Schram. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.)