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.