In my world, and in the world of Rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham, yes they can.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
(From a Jewish Perspective)
…..It was around noon time when Goldilocks left her Brooklyn apartment on the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Ave. She would finally spend a Sabbath Eve with her grandma “Zaide” Sarah who lived in a small retirement village apartment on the corner of 9th Street and 7th Ave. She was in her late 80s now, and really didn’t get around much anymore, at least that was what Goldilocks thought. So she thought it might be a good idea to visit her and spend a Sabbath Eve with her. Mamma thought it was a good idea too.
…..So Mamma baked a fresh loaf of Challah, wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it inside of Goldilocks’ back-pack. She went to the corner of 9th and 7th and waited for the bus. Once she boarded, Goldilocks settled down in a seat in the middle of the bus, leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes. Her memories took her back to the times when grandma and grandpa had spent more time together with her.
…..In past years, they had taken her to Prospect Park which was near the grandparents place. They would walk together, throw nuts to the squirrels and bread crumbs to the birds. Goldilocks would swing on one of the many swing-sets in the park. A few years ago, grandpa had given up the ghost, and now it was only grandma “Zaide” Sarah. These thoughts had slowly lulled Goldilocks to sleep. She wasn’t planning a nap on the bus, it just happened that way.
…..When she awoke, the bus had stopped for a few minutes because the bus driver had gone into a store for a snack and a restroom break. She looked around and saw the street sign, “New York Ave”, quite a way from where she had planned to get off. She had plainly slept through her stop at 7th and 9th Ave.
….”Have a nice day” said the driver as he got back on.
….”Yeah, you too” replied Goldilocks as she rushed down the aisle and jumped down the steps and passed the open door. A few more passengers got on and the driver closed the door and drove away.
…..So there she stood there at the corner of Midwood and New York Ave thinking that, ‘somehow, I have to get back to where Grandma lives’. She opened her purse and fumbled around looking for another bus token, but all she found was some loose change, an old grocery receipt, some paperclips and an old folded up homework assignment from Mr. Stein’s Social Studies class.
…..’Great’ she thought, ‘so this is where it was, two weeks too late. I’ll turn it in anyway, better late than never.’
…..The loose change amounted to twenty-two cents, not even enough for a cup of coffee.
…..’Well, she thought, I could “schnor” myself back to grandma’s place.’
…..She remembered the stories that grandma and grandpa had told her about “schnorers” back in the old country, destitute beggars asking pedestrians for a few Kopeks or even a Ruble or two near the great city of Kiev.
…..But, ‘No’ she thought, ‘there’s no way I’m going to schnor for bus fare, I’ll just walk it out.’
…..So Goldilocks began her trek back towards grandma’s place at 9th and 7th. Sure, it was a long way off, but if she walked fast, she ought to be there in time for Sabbath. With the loaf of challah in her backpack, she hurried along New York Ave as fast as she could walk. A little ways up ahead she noticed a sign that pointed to Prospect Park.
…..’Well’ she thought, ‘I could go around the park or cut through it. If I cut through it, I’ll save some time, yeah, cut through it.’ she decided finally. So Goldilocks started through Prospect Park with backpack and challah loaf inside. Soon she noticed a trail that led to Brooklyn’s only forest.
…..This somewhat intrigued her. She remembered grandma “Zaide” telling her about this small forest in Brooklyn, yet she never took her along one of these quaint forest paths.
…..’Guess I can make a detour’ thought Goldilocks, ‘ten or fifteen minutes won’t matter. I’ll still make it back to grandma’s before the Sabbath begins.’
…..So Goldilocks started to walk along the main trail that lead to towering trees and bushes. She was enthralled by such greenery in the middle of the city, she was captivated by the tweeting of the birds, and the scurrying squirrels that paused for a second to stare at her before disappearing into the thickets and trees.
…..Soon, she came upon a small log cabin house that was nestled between a clump of trees. It was off the beaten trail but nevertheless, curiosity got the better of her. She went over to investigate. She made her way to this small, strange house in the middle of this vast Brooklyn forest. She read the sign that was nailed to the front of the door which read; “BEARkowitz Family”. There were also three mail boxes near the front door with the names; Papa Bearkowitz, Mama Bearkowitz, and Baby Bearkowitz.
…..Goldilocks went closer for a better look and noticed that the front door was opened a crack, so she went up and knocked.
…..”Hello, anyone at home?”
…..Her knocking opened the door a bit more. No one answered, so she pushed open the door and went inside the BEARkowitz residence. Upon entering she noticed a small, cozy kitchen to the left and around the corner was a combination dining and living room. On the dining room table, she noticed three bowls of porridge. The aroma of the porridge stirred up her appetite, so her went over and sat down in a large chair in front of the larger bowl of porridge. She tasted it but, alas, it was much too hot.
…..She moved over to the medium sized chair in front of a smaller bowl and tasted the porridge. But “oi” it was too cold and bland. Then she saw the smallest bowl of porridge in front of the smallest chair. The chair looked comfortable so she sat down and tasted the porridge.
…..”Yes” she exclaimed, “just right”
…..So she ate it all up. After eating, Goldilocks felt a little tired so she went into the living room and saw two cushioned chairs and a small rocking chair. She sat down in the first chair, but it was much too hard for her comfort. She then tried the next chair, but the cushion was too soft for her comfort. Finally, she sat down in the rocking chair and started rocking back and forth. Yes, it seemed just right.
…..After about ten minutes of rocking back and forth in the small rocking chair, Goldilocks began to feel sleepy so she went into the master bedroom and found two beds. She lay down in the first bed which was pretty large, but the mattress was too hard and firm. She went to the other bed and lay down, but the mattress was much too soft. Then she went into the adjoining bedroom and found baby bear’s bed, (who wasn’t really a baby anymore on account that he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed). She lay down on the bed and she felt that it was just right. Soon, she fell fast asleep.
…..In the meanwhile, Papa bear, Mama Bear, and Baby bear (who wasn’t a baby anymore since he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed) returned home from shopping. They saw that the door was already open a jar, so Papa Bear said;
……”Honey, did you forget to lock the door again?”
….. “Oi Vey” responded Mama Bear, “Seems like I am getting to be a bit absent minded these days, my bad!”
…..”That’s OK” replied Papa Bear, “We don’t have anything worth stealing anyway.”
…..So the three BEARkowitz bears entered and Mama Bear put the groceries on the kitchen table for the Sabbath Eve dinner. It was then that Papa Bear noticed the bowls of porridge on the table.
…..”Someone has been eating my porridge!” said Papa bear a little annoyed.
…..Mama Bear went over to the table and looked at her bowl of porridge and exclaimed;
…..”Oi, someone has been eating from my bowl of porridge too!”
…..The baby Bear (who wasn’t such a baby anymore since….well…you know) went over to his bowl of porridge and cried out;
…..”Someone ate all of my porridge, and I am really hungry now!”
…..”Do you suppose that someone came in here while we were out shopping?” asked Mama Bear a bit surprised.
…..”Well”, replied Papa Bear, “you did leave the door unlocked didn’t you? We’ll just look around and see. If someone is here, we’ll soon find out.”
…..So the three bears went into the living room and went over to their chairs.
…..”Someone has been sitting in my chair” exclaimed Papa Bear, noticing that his chair had been moved slightly.
…..”Someone has been sitting in my chair too” exclaimed Mama Bear, noticing that the cushion had been moved. Then Baby Bear (who wasn’t a baby…..you know the rest) went over to his rocking chair and said;
…..”Someone has been rocking in my chair, look, my comic book that was on my chair is on the floor!” and he went over and placed the comic book on the rocking chair seat again.
…..”Good observation son” replied Papa Bear, nodding his head. “we’re getting closer to the truth of the matter, let’s check out the bedrooms.”
…..So the BEARkowitz bears went into the master bedroom. Papa Bear noticed that the bedspreads were a bit out of place.
…..”Someone has been sleeping in my bed” he exclaimed, shaking his head!’
…..”Someone has also been sleeping in my bed” replied Mama bear, noticing that the sheets were pulled back a bit.
…..”Mama, Papa” cried out Baby (well, you know the story) Bear, “someone is sleeping in my bed, and here she is!”
…..Mama and Papa Bear rushed into their son’s bedroom and were very much surprised to see the young girl asleep in the bed. For a minute, they just stood there staring at Goldilocks.
…..”Is she a friend of yours son?” asked Papa Bear.
…..”Never seen her in my life Papa!” replied (well, we have call baby Bear something else).
…..Then Mama Bear, very gently, reached over and shook Goldilocks’ feet.
…..”wake up, wake up little girl” she said softly.
…..Goldilocks stirred a little and awoke from her sleep. She rubbed her eyes a bit and sat up. When she opened her eyes and saw the three bears standing at her bedside, out of her mouth came..
…..Ayyyyy! Yahhh, Yahhhh, yahhh…. screaming at the top of her lungs, terrified to see the bears.
…..”Oi, little girl, stop screaming so, you act as though we’re going to eat you alive” responded Mama Bear, a little surprised to see the girl act so.
…..”Well Bears are bad, and evil” replied Goldilocks still a little distraught, “They attack and eat people and tear them limb from limb!”
…..”I think wolves do that” said baby bear, “it was a big bad wolf that ate little Red Riding Hood’s grannie!”
…..”Oi Vey” groaned Papa Bear shaking his head, “She must have gotten a hold of last month’s Field and Stream magazine, you know, the one that had the article about the hikers in the Rockies getting attacked by a grizzly.”
…..Mama Bear just smiled at Goldilocks and sat down in the bed beside her. “Not all bears are bad dear” she said, trying to calm the young girl, “but grizzlies, well, they’re bears with an attitude”
…..”So what kind of bears are you?” asked Goldilocks, now a bit more composed.
…..”Well” began Papa Bear, “To be perfectly honest, we do have some grizzlies in our family. My great, great aunt and uncle; Sasha and Tatyana BEARkovich lived in the forests of Siberia near Yakutsk. Now those were two bears with an attitude, why they took on 4 Cossacks at once and tore them apart. But the Cossacks were the ones looking for trouble mind you!”
…..”Yeah, but they’re probably a pair of rugs now in the Tsar’s palace” responded Baby (but not so baby any more) Bear, a little excited to join the conversation.
…..”Son” growled Papa Bear, “what did I tell you about saying that kind of thing. They aren’t rugs, they just…well… vanished one day.
…..”sorry” sighed baby Bear, a little embarrassed now, especially in front of this unexpected visitor.
…..”Well dear” replied Mama Bear, remembering the question, “What kind of bears are we? Well? We’re…ah…”Brooklyn bears!” Mama bear didn’t quite know what else to say.
…..”Yeah” added baby Bear, “like the Brooklyn Dodgers”
…..Goldilocks just looked at the three bears wide eyed, just looking for a chance to escape. She still had her back pack on and she slowly got off the bed. “Weeell” she began, “I’m not really into baseball, I’m a tennis fan…soooo….gotta go now…bye…” and she quickly headed toward the bedroom door. Papa bear, though, moved quickly in front of her.
…..”Just a minute young lady, you haven’t told us why you’re here” he said, standing in front of the door, blocking Goldilock’s getaway. Goldilocks stopped, threw the backpack on the bed and sat down again.
…..”First of all, my name is Goldilocks, and well…this is how it went.” So she told the story of how she left her apartment and headed towards grandma “Zaide” Sarah’s place, fell asleep on the bus, got off at the wrong stop, ran out of bus tokens, head back to grandma’s place, took a short cut through the park and then…ended up at the Bear’s house. Now, the Bear family’s interest was really sparked,
…..”So you see sir” continued Goldilocks.
…..”I’m Mr. BEARkowitz, and this is my family” interrupted Papa bear.
…..”OK, nice to meet you…as I was saying…I came across your house, the door was open a crack, I came in, I was a bit hungry and I still am, and well…I saw your porridge and well…you know the rest.” Goldilocks stopped talking and waited for the Bear’s response.
…..”So you say you’re on your way back to your grandma’s place near 9th and 7th Street, right?”
Asked Papa Bear. “what’s her name if I may ask?”
…..”Sarah” answered Goldilocks, “Zaide” Sarah.
…..”Grandma “Zaide” Sarah is YOUR grandmother?” questioned papa Bear a bit surprised. “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein?”
…..”You know her?” questioned Goldilocks, wondering how in the world he could know her grandma.
…..”Why everyone around here knows Grandma “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein” replied Mama Bear, “She is so friendly, always comes to the park, feeds the birds, the squirrels, tells the children in the park Bible stories, why, we just saw her today when we were on our way home from shopping. She was at Temple Beth Shalom. I believe that Rabbi Stein and his wife invited her to their place to spend Sabbath Eve, such a nice old lady” smiled Mama Bear looking at Goldilocks with all serenity.
…..”You mean to tell me that I came all this way and she isn’t even home!? Answered Goldilocks, quite annoyed now, upon hearing this unexpected news.
…..”Well, you could have called her on the phone” replied Mama Bear quietly.
…..”She never answers the stupid phone” cried Goldilocks, “and mama baked this Challah especially for her!” she added, taking the paper wrapped loaf of Challah bread out of her backpack, showing it to the bears.
…..”The challah” cried out Mama Bear, slapping herself on the side of her head. “That’s what we forgot dear husband, the Challah bread at Aaron’s bakery!”
…..Papa bear just stood there, stroking his chin, deep in thought. “You know” he began, “This is a very interesting situation. We have a Sabbath Eve chicken dinner in the oven, and Goldilocks here has the Challah. Young lady, how would you like to be our Sabbath Eve dinner guest this evening?”
…..”Yes” added Mama Bear, “it would be an honor to have you!”
…..Goldilocks didn’t quite know how to respond. Then she smiled a big smile, and nodded
“Thank you so much, I accept, I’m as hungry as a bear….Oh…sorry, no pun intended, my bad.”
…..”Well” replied Mama Bear, “It’s settled, let’s go into the dining room and wash up, the Sabbath is almost upon us”. So the three bears and Goldilocks left baby bear’s bedroom and went into the dining room.
…..”Now, you two go to the sink and wash your hands and don’t forget the hand washing blessing. Papa bear and I will get the dinner on the table, and get the candles and wine out to greet the Sabbath.
…..So baby bear and Goldilocks washed their hands, recited the blessing, and went over to the dining room table.
…..”Goldilocks, you sit over there” said Mama Bear, pointing to one of the chairs, “and Baby bear, you sit next to Goldilocks.”
…..”Come on Mama” cried out baby bear, “Cut it out with the ‘baby bear bit’ I’m already 13 years old, remember my Bar mitzvah last month?”
…..”Well” began Mama Bear, “You know how the story goes, the author named you…”
…..”I know, I know” interrupted baby bear, “but you can change my name…Pleeeeeaase!! He cried.
…..”Go ahead, change the name” responded Papa Bear, as he set the candles in place on the table.
…..”How about, YOUNG BEAR?” asked Mama, looking inquisitively at her son.
…..”Sounds native American” replied her son bluntly.
…..”I like it” replied Goldilocks, smiling from ear to ear.
…..”YES” shouted Young Bear, pumping his fist in the air, “Young Bear, Young Bear, Yes, Yes!”
…..”OK, it’s settled, YOUNG BEAR, you sit with Goldilocks, the Sabbath is almost among us” replied Mama Bear as she put on her white scarf. Papa Bear put the roast chicken, mashed potatoes and corn in the middle of the table. The table already had a beautiful white linen table cloth, especially for the Sabbath. He poured some wine in the four wine glasses which was in front of each family member and the surprise visitor. He then set the Challah bread next to the chicken and sprinkled some salt on it. Papa put on his Yarmulke and looked at his wife and nodded to her to begin.
…..Mama bear lit the candles and waved her hands, as if drawing in the light of the Sabbath candles, then recited the prayer;
…..”Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam……..” Then Papa Bear took the Challah and cut it, and recited the Sabbath prayer for the bread, then gave a piece of Challah to those at the table. Then came the blessing over the wine, and the wine was shared as well.
…..After all had partaken of the bread and the wine, Papa Bear said, “Aumein” and the rest responded, “Aumein”
…..”OK, so let’s eat” replied Mama Bear, as she served the chicken, the mashed potatoes and the corn to everyone at the table.
…..”Gut Shabbos everyone” said Papa Bear, nodding at Goldilocks.
…..”Gut Shabbos” replied Goldilocks, “Gut Shabbos to all of you and thank you.”
…..”You are so welcome young lady” said Mama Bear, very happy to have a Shabbos guest.
…..Goldilocks was really enjoying the BEARkowitz’s Shabbos meal, and then she noticed that “Young Bear” was looking at her, and seemed to have something on his mind. He finally got enough nerve and lifted up his voice saying;
“…..Uh…uh…Goldilocks?…uh…I wanted to, kinda, like, ask you something?”
…..”Yeah, what?” replied Goldilocks, a bit curious as to the nature of the question.
…..Young bear swallowed a piece of chicken with a bit more wine and then responded;
…..”OK, are you…well…kinda like…uh…going with someone? I mean…do you…like have a boyfriend?”
…..Goldilocks just smiled and rolled her eyes; “Oi” she said, “what next?”
Now it came to pass that an old rabbi with a long white beard, a bekishe, and a black hat just happened to come across this story written on several sheets of lined notebook paper. He just happened to be walking in Prospect park in early Spring. He sat down on one of the park benches to meditate on the creation of HaShem. He looked and saw the 5 pieces of notebook paper stapled together and folded. They were right at the end of the bench weighted down by a small rock.
He read through the story, smiled and said within himself; ‘Yes, this would be perfect for next Sabbath’s message.’ So, the rabbi went home and made some notes with the help of the rebbetzin.
Upon the arrival of the next Sabbath, the rabbi went up to the Bema and began his discourse.
“God has given us all the spirit of curiosity, began the rebbe, We are curious about new things, new situations, our nature is to be inquisitive, so we venture off-course a bit to explore new terrains. What lies behind closed doors you might ask? Sometimes, the doors are open just a bit to invite you to ‘push it open and take a look inside.’
Life is full of new experiences and opportunities that we might wish to tackle. Some of them might be just “too hot” to handle. We might not be prepared just yet. Other tasks may be, in our opinion, “too cold” “too bland” or just “too boring” for us to handle, or accept. However, if there is a job that needs to be done, a “mitzvah” needing to be performed, a person in need of your help, no matter how “bland” or “how boring” it may seem to you, God has put you there for a reason. Never think that a “mitzvah” is beneath your dignity, God will bless and reward many “humble floor sweepers.”
Then there are the situations and “mitzvoth” that seem “just right” right up your alley you may think. “This is just what I was hoping for.” Or “expecting” or “waiting for.” Then there is “sit down” time, “down time” a time for a rest, a personal “shabos” time. You may rest in an easy chair, or take a long snooze in a “b.b.b.” (baby-bear bed).
Many will take their long-awaited summer vacation, some will just be satisfied with a weekend Sabbath rest. Some will take a yearlong “sabbatical” that is if it can be afforded. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He worked and then rested. We should take his example. There is a time for work, to do mitzvoth (good deeds), and a time for rest. There is a time and a season for everything and everything has its time and its season.
There is a time and a season to repent of wrong doing, a time for teshuvah, to get right with God, that time is now. There is a time, a place, a season just right for you. Take advantage of it, because there is no promise of tomorrow. As the Prophet Isaiah said; “Seek the L-RD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!” (55:6)
By Rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham, re-printed by permission.