Friday, September 11, 2009

Bird of the soul, thoughts on Sept. 11

A glass bird on a headstone in Mt. Herzl military cemetery

The idea of a soul bird comes from the Talmud. In Hebrew it is tsippor hanefesh, an idiom representing that thing residing deep within you.

The Soul Bird is a best-selling children's book (which even our President Peres keeps on his night table) written by Israeli author Michal Snunit in 1985.
Here are words explaining the soul bird, from a book review in Hadassah Magazine:

"It is, says Snunit, that part of us that trembles with joy when we are treated lovingly and reels in shock and pain when we suffer cruelty or hurt. It has two legs, but it stands only on one, not because it is a flamingo but because it needs the other foot to do its work. That work is to open and shut a series of drawers embedded within its own body. These drawers contain our deepest and truest feelings, and it is the soul bird's job to decide which of these should be opened in response to various stimuli. In an ideal world, of course, the soul bird would perform its task infallibly, calling upon us, for instance, to feel empathy when that emotion is called for or happiness when that is most appropriate.

This being an imperfect world, however, the bird often opens the wrong drawer. Or, alternately, it may open the right drawer, but we may respond inappropriately. The trick to leading a successful life rests in developing an ability to recognize, listen to and engage our inner soul bird."
As we remember the victims of the terror of September 11, let us try to keep our soul bird strong enough that it will never be crushed by such dastardly acts. A permanently-handicapped tsippor hanefesh would be a posthumous victory to those terrorists.


Yaelian said...

Lovely posting Dina! Let us indeed keep our soul bird strong!

Kay said...

Such a beautiful idea, Dina. This is truly a day nobody could ever forget.

I remember Jon telling me that he heard about the towers when he was with the Peace Corps in Mali. They were all called back to Bamako because Mali is a muslim country and they didn't know how dangerous it would be. He says he and the other volunteers walked around in a daze not quite believing what had happened.

What a terrible day.

richies said...

9/11 is a good day to reflect on what each one of us can do to make the world a better place. Strength comes from trying to improve the world around us, not from being bitter about the past.

An Arkies Musings

Mediterranean kiwi said...

very poignant post today - the soul bird is a most appropriate choice

Jew Wishes said...

Lovely and powerful post, Dina.

Shabbat Shalom, on this day of September 11th.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

A wonderful post for 911. I was thinking about it all day--unfortunately, last night when I posted my post, Iw as only thinking about getting to bed becasue I had to get up early. Maybe I can write about soon. I'm so sorry I missed it. GREAT post--important to remember.

Cloudia said...

How lovely!

Birds are messengers from a high and beautiful vantagepoint


Comfort Spiral

GMG said...

Hi Dina! Excellent post!!

Sorry for the long delay, but after one year work, I got my official week off and, as always, the week before was terrible and the return awful... ;). Furthermore, there was 09.09.09, which for me was a bit depressing, as I entered a Club 60 I would prefer to postpone the joining... ;))

Blogtrotter is now in Turkey. Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!

Hilda said...

This is such a beautiful and hopeful post for today, Dina. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

Now I'm off to find out where I can get a copy of that book…

Rhea said...

What a great post! I love the idea of a soul-bird, and what a beautifully poignent photo.

tanzaniancane said...

Wow, what a wonderful post! Not only is the soul bird a wonderful concept, but using it to remember what happened 8 years ago is a wonderful way of reflecting on the happenings of that day.

My safari through medicine...

FA said...


Sara said...

Amen! A beautiful idea too about the soul bird.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

As others have said, what a beautiful posting. I have never heard of a "soul bird." It is something I will have to remember.