In the 1940’s George Reavis, a public school administrator wrote the Animal School fable. You may have heard of it.
Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world” so they organized a school.
They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.
The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming.
But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.
The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a “Charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.
The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.
At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.
The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.
Does this fable have a moral?
Yep. It does. And, it connects with this week’s Parsha
We have to let the ducks swim, the rabbits run, and the eagles fly. We don’t want a school of average ducks.
The meta narrative in the book of Leviticus is that which describes a people distinct from the people around them. The book instructs the people of Israel how to remain a separate and holy people and how to distinguish between the holy and the profane. Thus, among other things, Leviticus 12 must be viewed through this lens. Plus, it reminds us that there is distinction between male and female.
It was this distinction, either between male and female or holy and profane that highlighted who God is. This, among other things, demonstrated the power and sufficiency of God.
This is not a commentary of Leviticus 12. So, I won’t mention the numerous other published perspectives on this chapter. Although we are a passionate kingdom community, and we should be striving to be like “… the full number of those who believed [and be of] one heart and soul,…” [Act 4:32 ESV] we should remember that from conception, each of us is distinct. We each have a specific calling and purpose. To worship and live in unity doesn’t mean that we lose what distinguishes us from others. Rather, we are meant to live lives that distinguish us from unbelievers.
When we live lives that do not distinguish us, as believers, we are simply living life as average ducks who are not fulfilling our calling or purpose for which God created us. Therefore, our challenge is to remember who we are what makes us different and distinct so that we will glorify God and demonstrate who He is to a lost community.