Feathers of the Skylark: Compulsion, Sin, and Our Need for a Messiah

Satinover, Jeffrey

Hamewith Books, 1996

pp. 4-8

S’s point is that sin is as progressive and disabling as an addiction, at least typically. Hence (4) Rabbi Isaac: “At first, sin is like an occasional visitor, then like a guest who stays for a while, and finally like the master of the house.” A fable. “One day long ago, over the hot sands of a Middle Eastern country, a white skylark flew in joyous loops about the sky. As she swooped near the earth, she heard a merchant cry out, ‘Worms! Worms! Worms for feathers! Delicious worms!’ The skylark circled about the merchant, hungry at the mention of worms but puzzled as to what the merchant meant. Little did the skylark know that the merchant was the devil. And seeing that the little skylark was interested, the devil motioned her nearer. ‘Come here, my little friend. Come! See the lovely worms I have!’ Cautiously, the skylark landed and cocked her head at the merchant. Come! Taste the juicy worms!’ The skylark became aware that she was indeed quite hungry. And these worms looked bigger and tastier than any she had ever dug for herself out of the hardscrabble ground of the desert. The skylark hopped closer and put her beak up close for a worm. ‘Two worms for a feather, my friend. Two worms for one!’ The skylark was unable to resist. And she had, after all, so many feathers. So, with a swift motion, she pulled out a feather–just a small one–from beneath her wing and gave it to the merchant. ‘Take your pick, my little friend . . . any two, your heart’s desire!’ And so the skylark quickly snatched up two of the plumpest worms and swallowed her meal with delight. Never before had she tasted such wonderful worms. With a loud chirp, she leaped into the air and resumed her joyful flight. Day after day the skylark returned. But one day, after eating her fill, the skylark leaped again into the air–and to her horror, she fell to the ground with a thud. She was unable to fly! All at once, with a shock, she realized what had happened. From the delicious worms she had grown fatter and fatter. But, as she plucked her feathers, one by one, first her body, then her tail, and finally her very wings had grown balder and balder. Horrified, she remembered how, slowly, imperceptibly, day by day, it had been getting harder and harder to fly; and how she had told herself it was no matter; she could always stop before it was too late. Now, suddenly, here she was, trapped on the ground. Consider Proverbs 5:22-23 ‘The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.’