Be A Cow Not A Pig

Be A Cow Not A Pig!

“Better be a cow than a pig; give when you’re alive.” (From: I Hate to Say Goodbye)

Ever heard of a “poor” man that after he died his family members or neighbors found tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden in his house?

Have you ever seen family members who gathered at a law office to hear what their relative wrote in his/her will? Some walk out upset or disappointed and some are extremely happy. The question is: did the deceased enjoy his life, his possessions? Did he live life only to save for the future? Did he save for security and deprive himself and others of the joy they could have had?

Sometimes I wonder why people save so much money and not use it. They accumulate a big inheritance and only give to others AFTER they die. Some wait for the right moment to give. That doesn’t make sense to me.

My father once had many sayings of wisdom. One of them was: “Better be a cow than a pig; give when you’re alive.” And then he would explain to us (we were kids) that a cow gives milk when she is alive.  She can see how she helps and enjoys the fact that she has something to give. The pig on the other hand, doesn’t see the joy of people eating its meat, as he has to be dead first. This may sound a bit rough or vulgar but there’s truth and a lesson to be learned from it.

What is one’s true joy? You may think of many things as you try to answer this question. But when we ask you an even a better question such as: what is your most pleasant memory? I bet you that at least one of those moments was when you helped another. By help I mean you did something that improved the other person’s state, mood, outlook on life, physical condition etc.

I will never forget that time in my life when I was only 12 years old and befriended another girl named Ruti. Ruti was not a regular girl. She didn’t have many friends and was not very active. She was smart, generous and warm hearted but she had a problem. She was a handicap; she could only walk with crutches. It melted my heart to see her walking with so much effort, breathing heavily after a short walk that for me was simply taking a light breath. Ruti and I became friends. I had a lot to learn from her and enjoyed her company.

One day I got fed up with her inability to walk without crutches so I decided I was going to help her. As we were playing outside, throwing and catching a ball, I asked her if she ever tried to walk without her crutches. She gave me a shocked look. To my surprise, no one before ever asked her such a question. “No,” she answered puzzled. “Why?” I told her that she should try to walk without the crutches because anything is possible. She gave me a cynical smirk and brushed me off saying we better get back to our game. I insisted. I didn’t want to hear any negative word, thought or a comment. When I saw that the object of my help was not that cooperative I resorted to a few words of encouragements.

“I’ll help you out, ” I said, sending her a reassuring smile. “We’ll do it gradually, I promise. I will not let you fall or get hurt. You have to trust me. I will help you out.” Ruti, who was the daughter of a famous doctor in our neighborhood, was skeptical. She probably heard all sorts of reasons why she would never be able to walk without crutches. “I’m your friend, “I persisted. “What can you lose trying? The worst that can happen is that you will continue to walk with your crutches.” Well… that did the trick. She looked at me with big black eyes and long eyelashes; her naturally red lips widened to a faint smile and a spark of hope shone in her eyes.

So, slowly she let her crutches go while I held onto her hands. I walked backwards and she walked towards me one small step at a time, moving forward her healthy leg first while the shorter and thinner leg was partly in the air, and then placing her short leg on the ground. And so we practiced for half an hour.

The next day we met again and we resumed our exercise. Every day, in the late afternoon during that summer month Ruti was waiting for me. I gave her hope. She trusted me. That memorable day I decided I should let go of my hands and let her walk by herself. I made sure to tell her first what my plan was. She was thrilled. So we began. At the end of the day, just before we had to go home for supper Ruti walked, on her own, without crutches!

I remember that day like it was today. Never before had I experienced being so elated; happy to such an extreme that I felt my heart was about to jump with joy out of my mouth. I felt valuable beyond belief. Mature (and I was only 12 years old), trustworthy, beautiful. I felt for the first time what the feeling of being beautiful is all about. No money or a beautiful car, a huge house or perfect body could have given me that feeling of reward and joy.

Then school started and I hadn’t seen Ruti for a while. One day when I was on the bus going home, I looked through the window and I saw Ruti again. I will also never forget that moment. It was one of the most miserable days of my life. I had failed to help her. My help was only a temporary success. There she was, walking with her crutches again! Maybe her parents rebuked her talking nonsense when she told them she was able to walk without her crutches. Maybe they told her she would fall and hurt herself. Whatever it was, she did not fight back. And I failed to help.

All of us social characters love to help and love to give, even if we don’t admit it at times. We just forget sometimes where our greatest joy comes from. Look how happy a baby is when he or she manages to make their parents smile or laugh.

This article is to remind you of what you already know. So, don’t wait until… when you can give now. Don’t keep those precious jewelry to give only after… give it now, experience the joy of giving, see before you the person you help and experience his or her joy.

Don’t hide what you have and keep it under your bed for someone to find when you are gone. Give when you’re alive and doubly experience the satisfaction and the joy you get from giving and from watching the joy of the receiver. Be a cow, don’t be a pig.

Ruti Yudovich recently released her first novel, I Hate to Say Goodbye, based on her early years in Israel. She is also the author of a two-part, self-teaching educational book entitled the joy of Hebrew. For more information visit at: and FB at:


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