Once a father and son were traveling with their only donkey. The father rode on the donkey, and the son walked beside him. Upon reaching their first destination, the people of the city greeted them with nasty and crude remarks.
“Is this a father?” they shouted. “Would a responsible father ride his donkey while his son walks?” The father and son felt terribly embarrassed, so they continued traveling on to the next city. Before they entered, they switched places, hoping that the people of this city would be more accepting of them.
The travelers were again met with harsh criticism. “Look at this shameful sight! A disrespectful son rides on a donkey while his elderly father walks!” Feeling humiliated, the travelers left that city as well.
As they approached their third destination, the father suggested that they both ride on the donkey together. This would undoubtedly leave no room for insults.
As they neared the city, however, the people gathered to view the sight. “Look at that poor donkey!” they remarked. “It can barely walk due to the weight of those silly travelers! Why, it will be dead in no time!”
The father and son tried their luck one last time. The only option seemed to be that they both walk beside the donkey. As they entered the city, the donkey bolted and ran away. The people of the city watched in amusement and laughed mockingly. Rejected and hopeless, left with nothing, the travelers realized that efforts to please others will never succeed.
—Heard from Rabbi Majeski
Acting to please others can never be successful. A person who wishes to impress others will have to constantly change, for every person will demand something different. We must act according to Torah values, without being influenced by others’ views. Only this can bring a person to true satisfaction and joy.
~ Chicken Soup to Warm the Neshama