What makes something magical? Is it the wonder that we see in it or when something happens that we don’t expect; the element of surprise? One fact is for sure and that is we know when we see something magical. It is awesome and awe inspiring. My Bubie says that there is magic all around us, we just need to open our eyes to see it. This is a story about a young boy who was taking care of his friend’s parrot. When the two friends took the bird outside, thinking she couldn’t fly away because her wings were clipped, the parrot took off for the sky never to be seen again, or was she?
There was once a boy named Usher Anshel Dovid and he had a friend, his best friend in the whole world. His friend had a parrot and his friend, Yankel, brought the parrot over to Usher Anshel Dovid’s house. He told Usher Anshel Dovid that his Mom did not want the parrot living at their home any longer because she made too much noise. Usher Anshel Dovid’s Mom said that they could keep the parrot at their house as long as he took care of her, gave her food, water and cleaned her cage. They called the parrot, Fagele.
Usher Anshel Dovid and all of his sisters were very happy to have a bird in the house. She sang all of the time except at night when she slept and seemed very satisfy to be in a cage the rested on Usher Anshel Dovid’s bed, right next to his pillow.
Yankel would come often to the house to play with his bird. He missed her so much and loved her so much too. But, he thought to himself that if he couldn’t keep his bird at his home, the only other person in the world that he trusted to take care of Fagele was his best friend in the whole world, Usher Anshel Dovid.
The cage that Fagele was kept in was small and so whenever Yankel would come over to Usher Anshel Dovid’s house he would take her out of the cage and let her walk around the house. He had to be careful, especially since the girls wanted to hold Fagele, play with her and pet her. Yankel explained that it wasn’t good for the bird to hold her too much or pet her too much, but she was such a pretty bird, with green and yellow feathers and a pink beak, and she was such a happy bird who loved to sing all day long, so everyone wanted to hold her and touch her.
One day Yankel came over to Usher Anshel Dovid’s house to play with Fagele and it was a nice warm day outside so he put her on his shoulder and took her outside. Fagele had her wings clipped when she was a young bird so she was unable to fly away.
As Yankel was moving Fagele from one shoulder to the other, letting her climb on his hand and lifting her to the next shoulder, Fagele suddenly, without any warning, spread her wings and flew up into the sky. Usher Anshel Dovid and Yankel called out to her in unison, “Fagele, come back! Fagele, it is dangerous in the sky. Fagele, we love you, don’t fly away!” But nothing the boys could say would encourage Fagele to return to them or to her cage.They watched to try to see which direction she was flying and thought to chase after her and maybe find her when she finally landed, but they lost sight of her after a few minutes.
From Fagele’s point of view, even though she knew how much the boys loved her, she was tired of living in such a small cage and when she was outside and looked up to the sky and saw other birds, like herself, flying free, she just could not restrain herself; she had to try to fly up and to meet them. Yankel felt very badly. He loved Fagele so much and he was sure that if she could return to him she would. Usher Anshel Dovid would look up in the sky every time he went outside to see if he could recognize Fagele among the other birds on the rooftops in the neighborhood. Fagele was not coming back.
Usher Anshel Dovid told his very best friend in the whole world that he thought that Fagele had found some good bird friends and they were going to fly together, always moving in the direction of warm weather. “What will she eat?” said Yankel. “We have always given her food and water and she does not know how to feed herself”, he lamented. “Don’t worry”, said Usher Anshel Dovid. “She has made some new friends, just like you and me and they will show her where to find food and water. She will be fine; I am sure of it”. Yankel felt better listening to the words that his friend told him, but he was still worried for his beautiful Fagele.
The week that Fagele disappeared, Usher Anshel Dovid received a flute (wooden recorder) from his Bubie and Zada. Usher Anshel Dovid loved music and really wanted to learn how to play the clarinet, but first he thought that he would learn on the recorder flute. He had learned a story once about a shepherd who played his flute and the sheep would follow the shepherd wherever he went. “What a wonderful idea”, thought Usher Anshel Dovid. “Not only do people love music, but so do animals!” Then, all of a sudden, Usher Anshel Dovid had an amazing idea! “I can learn how to play the flute and play into the skies in the daytime and in the nighttime and maybe Fagele will hear the music and come back home!”
Usher Anshel Dovid’s family and friends said that Fagele was probably very far away from home and could not hear the music from such a distance, but Usher Anshel Dovid decided to practice every day and learn how to play the flute so that he would try to reach the ears of Fagele. “At least”, he thought to himself, “if Fagele doesn’t hear the flute I could always play the music at parties that we have at the school.”
Usher Anshel Dovid practiced playing the flute every day. He had a teacher and a friend who taught him how to play and told him to practice. Everyone inside and outside of the house loved to hear Usher Anshel Dovid playing his flute. He had a real talent for music. He loved to sing and listen to music too. His favorite singer was Motty Steinmetz. You should check out some of his songs at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0IP3xYeweE&list=RD89YWjKsoKYE&index=6 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF-Nggawuuk&list=RD89YWjKsoKYE&index=10
So one day Usher Anshel Dovid decided that he had learned to play the flute well enough to try to bring Fagele back. He began to play and he opened his heart and prayed to Hashem (God) that Fagele, wherever she was, would hear his music and come back to him and Yankel. Usher Anshel Dovid did not want to tell anyone what he was doing, especially Yankel, because he didn’t want him to be disappointed and sad if Fagele didn’t return. Also, he knew that the chances were slim that Fagele would return. Either she was in Africa with her friends or, God forbid, a cat had eaten her. However, he had to try because nothing would happen and nothing happens if we don’t make an effort.
So, Usher Anshel Dovid stood outside, near his house and he started to play. The neighbors began to come out of their houses to see who was playing such beautiful music. They had never heard such sounds coming from a flute, it was like heavenly angels singing and playing music together and they were so surprised when they saw that the these melodious sounds were coming out of a simple wooden flute played by a young boy, with all of his heart.
It reminded some of the neighbors about the story with the BESHT (B’aal Shem Tov) when the simple shepherd came to the Shul (Synagogue) on Yom Kippur and he didn’t know how to pray but he played his flute asking for forgiveness. The gates of heaven opened for this young shepherd, who played from his pure heart, and Hashem forgave the whole congregation.
Usher Anshel Dovid must have been playing for many hours. He was not tired but it was getting dark and his Mommy and Tatte (Daddy) wanted him to come into the house and eat and go to sleep. After all, he had Cheder (school) in the morning and a young boy needs his sleep if he wants to get up in time! So Usher Anshel Dovid stopped playing his flute and went into the house.
He slept well that night and had an interesting dream. He dreamt that Fagele was sleeping in her cage next to his pillow. She was talking to him. She said, “Usher Anshel Dovid, you know that I love you and I love Yankel and all of your sisters but it was hard for me to be in such a small cage all day and it was also lonely. If you will bring a bigger cage, big enough for two birds I will return to you.”
When Usher Anshel Dovid awoke the next morning he told his Mommy and Tatte about his dream. “That is very nice”, they said, “but we do not have money to buy a bigger cage, especially for a bird that no longer lives here!”
At breakfast, Usher Anshel Dovid told his sisters his dream and Basya Chaya, who had many dreams, said that Fagele had come to her in a dream and told her the same thing! There was only one thing to do. Usher Anshel Dovid ran to his friend Yankel and told him that they would have to make some money to buy a bigger bird cage. They could wash cars, sweep up in the stores, help people carry groceries and ask their Bubie and Zada to help too. “What is the point?” said Yankel. “Fagele is gone and for sure my Mommy is not going to let me get another bird or two! We can work and make some money, but we can buy something else, like drums and then we can start a band.”
Usher Anshel Dovid wouldn’t give up. He went to the house in the neighborhood where there was a man who raised birds and told him that he would help him clean bird cages if, instead of money, the man would pay him with one of his large bird cages. The man agreed and Usher Anshel Dovid went there every day after Cheder to work.
After two weeks the man was so impressed with Usher Anshel Dovid’s hard work that he gave him the cage and told him that if he wanted to continue to work he would pay him. So Usher Anshel brought the bird cage back to his house. There really wasn’t so much room for it but he decided that if he hung it from the ceiling it would not bother anyone, he hoped!
After two days no birds came, not Fagele and not any other bird. Usher Anshel Dovid started to feel sad and to think that his dream was just that, a dream that expressed what he wanted but not something real. When Usher Anshel Dovid became sad he would take his flute out and begin to play. That evening he played until very late and his parents finally made him come in the house, eat and go to sleep. That night he had no dreams.
The next morning Usher Anshel Dovid went to Cheder. Sometimes he had trouble concentrating in Cheder. He began to stare out the window. Suddenly he thought he heard some singing. When it was time to go home, as Usher Anshel Dovid was walking, he felt something on his shoulder. He turned his head and there she was, Fagele! “Fagele!” Usher Anshel Dovid screamed. “Fagele, is that really you?”
In another minute he felt something on his other shoulder, “What, another bird? Fagele did you bring your friend as you told me you would, in my dream? We have to go to Yankele’s!” Then Usher Anshel Dovid walked, no, he really ran, to his best friend’s, in the whole world, house and yelled, “Yankele, come out here!”
Yankel walked out of his house, looked at Usher Anshel Dovid, looked at his shoulders, each one with a parrot on it and recognized Fagele right away! Yankel began to cry, for happiness. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed Fagele and seeing her on his best friend’s shoulder made him so happy his eyes began to water and tears of happiness spilled from them.
Usher Anshel Dovid and Yankel went back to Usher Anshel Dovid’s house. They showed Fagele and her friend the new, big bird cage. Fagele and her friend immediately flew inside it and started to sing. Do you know what melody they began to sing together? Yes, did you guess, it was one of the melodies that Usher Anshel Dovid had played on his flute, from one of Motty Steinmetz’s songs! The music had reached the ears of the birds as Usher Anshel Dovid had played on what his sisters called, “Usher Anshel Dovid’s magical flute”. Why was it magical? Usher Anshel Dovid had prayed that his music would reach Fagele wherever she was and she would hear in the music how much she was missed. Fagele heard and she returned.
Usher Anshel Dovid and Yankel learned some very important mitzvoth from this. They learned that the mitzvah of Tzar Baalei Chaim (being kind to animals) is very important. It is not enough to just feed and give water to an animal, you must provide it with a place to live that does not cause suffering to the animal. Also, they learned that with hard work you can buy things that you need, like in this case, a big bird cage. The final lesson they learned was to do anything well you must practice, pray and give it all of your heart. These are the actions that really made Usher Anshel Dovid’s flute magical, that and a little help from Hashem.