Illustration of a fox gazing into a river, trying to trick fish into leaving the water.

The Fable of the Fox & the Fish (Talmud)

The Parable of the Fox and the Fish (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 61b) is one of the more influential fables from the Talmud. It teaches the importance of considering one’s circumstances.

A long time ago, in a lush forest by a clear river, there lived a cunning fox. The fox was known for his wit and charm, and he loved to use these traits to trick the other animals in the forest.

One day, as the fox was wandering along the riverbank, he spotted a school of fish darting through the water. They swam gracefully, their shiny scales glinting in the sun as they moved together in perfect harmony.

The fox, always looking for an opportunity to outsmart others, hatched a plan. He approached the edge of the river and called out to the fish with a friendly tone, “Oh, dear fish, I have come to warn you of great danger lurking in these waters! There are fishermen with nets, eager to catch you and serve you up for their supper.”

The fish listened intently, eyes wide with fear. The fox continued, “But worry not, for I have a solution to keep you safe. Leave the water and join me on the riverbank. Together, we will be free from the fishermen’s grasp.”

The fish could see that the fox was indeed safe from fisherman, as well as all the other predators of the stream. However, they had heard of the fox’s reputation for deceit and trickery. The wisest fish among them spoke up, “Thank you for your concern, dear fox, but we know that you are a cunning creature, and we suspect your intentions may not be as noble as you claim.”

Undeterred, the fox pressed on. “Do not be so foolish!” he exclaimed. “If you remain in the water, you will certainly be caught and eaten. The river is such a dangerous place. Trust me, and come ashore. I assure you, there is safety on dry land.”

The wise fish replied calmly, “You may be able to deceive other animals, but we understand the truth. The land may be safe for you, but not for us.”

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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