get How K'tonton Saved The Birds On Shabbat Shirah
K'tonton hopped about on the
sill at the open window, his little
cheeks pink with cold and
excitement. It was Shabbat Shirah,
the Sabbath of Song, and he was
helping his mother toss crumbs to
the birds. Outside the snowflakes
whirled, and the wind piled little
drifts about his feet, but K'tonton
was bundled up warm in a woolen
cap and sweater and overshoes.
"Here, Mother, give me another
handful!" he cried. "Look at the
sparrows go for them! I guess about
every sparrow in the city has come
to our party."
Down below on the snowy
ground the sparrows were chirping
and twittering, pulling the crusts this
way and that.
K'tonton suddenly. He always said
"Godgedudyigudenu" when he was
excited. "Godgedudyigudenu! If
there isn't another flock of them
coming! Hope there are crumbs
enough! I'd better slip into Mother's
pocket and see."
Down from the window sill he
hopped, wet boots and all, right into
the pocket of Mother's clean white
"One, two, three crusts, four,
five, six," K'tonton began counting.
He felt Mother's fingers reaching
down into the pocket. Before he
realized what was happening, he
had been gathered up with a
handful of crusts and tossed
through the open window.
"Oh, oh!" was K'tonton's first
thought as he picked himself up
from the soft snow. "What a joke on
Mother! She thought I was a crust!"
But he didn't think it a joke for
long. A big sparrow was flying
straight toward him. It had taken
him for a crust, too. How broad its
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1990
wings were! How sharp its bill
seemed to poor little K'tonton!
"I'm not a crust," K'tonton tried
to explain. "I'm the one who has
given you your party!"
But the sparrow didn't seem to
understand. It took hold of his
sweater with its bill. The next
moment K'tonton found himself
flying toward the sky, his feet and
hands dangling in the air. Up,up, up
they flew through the whirling
snowflakes, leaving the earth far
below. K'tonton shut his eyes tight.
Now they just grazed a wire. Now
they were flying through the
branches of a tall elm tree. Now
they had reached the roof of the big
house across the street. Down
under the eaves swooped the
sparrow. K'tonton felt himself drop.
He opened his eyes and found
himself in a nest behind the gutter
It was a sprawly, untidy nest
with bits of rag and straw fluttering
in the wind. Inside were pieces of
egg shell where the young birds
had broken through in the spring.
The sparrow had flown off to tell the
rest of the family of its good luck.
K'tonton could hear them chattering
away at the edge of the roof.
"Well," thought K'tonton, as he
peered over the side of the nest to
see whether there was any way of
escape, "I'm safe for a little while at
But what he saw was so
startling, he almost lost his balance
and tumbled out. A limb of the elm
tree extended along the side of the
roof. Creeping stealthily along the
limb was — a GREAT BLACK CAT!
Its green eyes gleamed in the
shadows. They were fixed on the
unsuspecting birds. Nearer and
nearer crept the cat. A few more
steps and it would pounce.
K'tonton's heart thumped in his
chest. Should he go out, stop the
horrible creature and save the
birds? The monster could swallow
him in one mouthful. Should he
crouch inside the nest and hide? He
thought of the innocent birds. It
wasn't their fault they had mistaken
him for a crust. He remembered
that it was Shabbat Shirah.
Quick as a flash K'tonton
climbed over the side of the nest,
sprang lightly in the limb and was
standing directly in the path of the
"Stop!" he cried, drawing
himself up to his full height. "I say
unto you, stop!"
Startled, the cat drew back, its
whiskers stiff, its muscles tense,
ready to spring. It snarled.
K'tonton's heart quavered. But
he thought of Moses before
Pharoah. He thought of Daniel in
the lion's den.
Looking the cat straight in the
eye, he spoke. "Thus says the law.
Thou shalt not devour the weak, nor
harass the poor and the helpless.
But thou shalt love thy brother in
thy heart. Thou shalt surely spare
His shrill voice rose in the air. It
pierced the stillness. The birds
heard and flew up, uttering sharp
chirps of distress.
Slowly the great gody of the cat
relaxed; slowly the eyes fell. Its tail
hung between its legs.
"Turn about!" said K'tonton.
Obediently the cat turned about
on the narrow limb. K'tonton sprang
upon its tail and held on with both
"Go!" he commanded.
And the cat went — carefully
from limb to limb, down, down. With
a light spring it was on safe ground
And K'tonton's father and
mother — what had they been
doing all this time? Al through the
afternoon they had been hunting in
the snow for their lost K'tonton.
When evening came, they fetched a
lantern and went on hunting. Now
sad and heavy hearted, they lifted
their eyes. Coming toward them
across the snow was a great black
cat and riding on the end of the
cat's tail — was their own dear
"Bench Gomel, Father," cried
K'tonton, as his father joyfully
picked him up and tucked him
safely into his pocket. "Thank God
for saving me and the birds." And
his father did.
That's how K'tonton saved the
birds on Shabbat Shirah.
Reprinted with permission.