God’s Helper. A New Story for Rosh HaShanah

I am delighted to be able to share with you this story I have written for the children’s service of Rosh HaShanah.It is based on Genesis 1, midrashim, texts, folk tale motifs and my imagination!

The Ziz was a creature that you could not help noticing.

First of all it was very colorful. Its feathers of red and yellow and purple made it stand out vibrantly against the blue-grey of the sky or the green-brown of the forest or the pink-orange-yellow of the desert.

Secondly, the Ziz was more than huge, it was gigantic. When the Ziz stood in the ocean, the water only reached his ankles and his head topped the edge of the sky. Once when a ship was sailing in the ocean, the sailors saw the Ziz standing so tall, and thought: “Mmmm… the water must be shallow, what a great place to dive!” But a voice cried out from the heavens and warned them: “Don’t go diving there… once a child dropped his toy off a boat at that very place, and it still has not reached the ocean’s bottom.” It must have been very, very, very deep.

Third, when the Ziz’s spread out his wings, that they were so, so, enormous that they were able to block out the sun.  Under the Ziz’s wings wide spread, day would look like it turned to night, a dark, dark night with no stars in the sky or moon in the heavens.  All you could see was the hint of cloud like feathers floating through the sky.

They were some mighty huge wings.

Yes, the Ziz was a creature that you could not help noticing!

Not only was the Ziz King of the birds, he was also God’s special helper. In the beginning, God wanted to make a world. God didn’t have a really good idea what that world might look like. But that did not stop God from trying.

First of all, God created a world filled with just day and night.

Sometimes it was light. Sometimes it was dark. Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Dark.  There did not seem to be a point to this world. God looked at this world and said: “Mmmm… this world does not look good enough. Yet how do I begin again and create a better world?

Right then and there, the Ziz was flying by in the heavens of heavens and overheard God thinking this thought out loud.

“Can I help you God?” asked the Ziz.

“Perhaps,” said God, “I made this world however it does not look very good. There is no space to begin again.”

“Oh, I can help!” said the Ziz. And with one swoop of the Ziz’s large wings, the Ziz knocked the light/dark world out of the universe. And suddenly, there was space to begin again!

Second of all, God created a world  of light and dark, sea and sky.

God looked at this world and said: “Mmmm… better… but this world does not look like a comfortable place. The water is very, very wet. The sky is very, very high.  But it just looks like one big empty place. This world does not look good enough. Yet how do I begin again and create a better world?

Right then and there, the Ziz was flying by in the heavens of heavens and overheard God thinking this thought out loud.

“Can I help you God?” asked the Ziz.

“Perhaps,” said God, “I made another world but it does not look very good. There is no space to begin again.”

“Oh, I can help!” said the Ziz. And with one swoop of the Ziz’s large wings, the Ziz knocked the light/dark/sea/ sky world out of the universe. And suddenly, there was space to begin again!

Third of all, God created a world  of light and dark, sea and sky, and land and trees.

God looked at this world and said: “Mmmm… better… The land provides a nice color contrast to the water and sky. The trees are a pretty green and I like the colored flowers on the bushes and shrubs. There does not seem to be a point to all of these things. This world does not look good enough. Yet how do I begin again and create a better world?

Right then and there, the Ziz was flying by in the heavens of heavens and overheard God thinking this thought out loud.

“Can I help you God?” asked the Ziz.

“Perhaps,” said God, “I made another world but it does not look very good. There is no space to begin again.”

Oh, I can help!” said the Ziz. And with one swoop of the Ziz’s large wings, the Ziz knocked the light/dark/sea/ sky/land/tree world out of the universe. And suddenly, there was space to begin again!

Fourth of all, God created a world of light and dark, sea and sky, land and trees, with a sun, and moon and stars.

God looked at this world and said: “Mmmm… better… sun and moon and stars provide a nice light show. Yet who will watch them in the sky? They make it all a little more interesting. There does not seem to be a point to it all. This world does not look good enough. Yet how do I begin again and create a better world?

Right then and there, the Ziz was flying by in the heavens of heavens and overheard God thinking this thought out loud.

“Can I help you God?” asked the Ziz.

“Perhaps,” said God, “I made another world but it does not look very good. There is no space to begin again.”

Oh, I can help!” said the Ziz. And with one swoop of the Ziz’s large wings, the Ziz knocked the light/dark/sea/ sky/land/tree/sun/moon/stars world out of the universe. And suddenly, there was space to begin again!

Fifth of all, God created a world of light and dark, sea and sky, land and trees, with a sun, and moon and stars, and sea animals like fish and seahorse and Leviathan, and air animals like bats and doves and an earthly image of the heavenly Ziz.

God looked at this world and said: “Mmmm… better… these water and sky animals make the world more exciting. The sea and air seem to have a reason for being now. Those fins and wings really help out in making the world a better place. The land however could use some help. There does not seem to be a point to it all. This world does not look good enough. Yet how do I begin again and create a better world?

Right then and there, the Ziz was flying by in the heavens of heavens and overheard God thinking this thought out loud.

“Can I help you God?” asked the Ziz.

“Perhaps,” said God, “I made another world but it does not look very good. There is no space to begin again.”

Oh, I can help!” said the Ziz. And with one swoop of the Ziz’s large wings, the Ziz knocked the light/dark/sea/ sky/land/tree/sun/moon/stars/wings/fins world out of the universe. And suddenly, there was space to begin again!

Sixth of all, God created a world of light and dark, sea and sky, land and trees, with a sun, and moon and stars, and sea animals like fish and seahorse and Leviathan, and air animals like bats and doves and an earthly image of the heavenly Ziz, and earthly creatures like giraffes and kangaroos and the great Behemoth.  Just for good measure God added man and woman, humans that would walk on the earth but one day also would be able to sail the seas and fly in the sky.

God looked at this world and said: “Oh! So much better! Everything has come together so nicely. Now there are animals on land, earth, sky and an eco-system where creatures and plants co-exist and help each other. Human beings can explore everything I have created, try their best, begin again and in the end,  learn to take care of it all as my partners. This world looks very good.

Right then and there, the Ziz was flying by in the heavens of heavens and overheard God thinking this thought out loud.

“Can I help you God?” asked the Ziz.

“Perhaps,” said God, “This time I made a really wonderful world. I am now thinking how I might protect it.”

“Oh, I can help!” said the Ziz. And with one swoop of the Ziz’s large wings, the Ziz enwrapped the world with care and love, so it looked like the world was a gift wrapped in God’s presence.

And this world we live in is very, very good!

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About ravlinda

Linda Joseph is the rabbi of Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation in Ashburn VA, a dynamic and growing congregation outside of Washington DC. Storytelling, silk painting, making art, listening to music, playing with her dog Ben Bag Bag and her cat Kuzari are some of her interests.

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