wisdom of our parents


Our sages told us, he who chases after honor… honor will escape him. And he who tries to avoid honor, honor will chase after him.


And likewise we heard, don’t work to win a prize.


Watched television last night. It was one of those reality shows. You know, the type that gets you praying, ‘please don’t let this be reality’. Sometimes it comes as ‘news’. Sometimes, it’s an event.


If you’re not careful, you can start identifying with the characters in the show… thinking I would do it this way, or I would try something else.


After a while, I started thinking I would have enjoyed my time a lot more if I’d been watching cats.


I like the company of cats because they don’t flatter, and they don’t try to please us…



64 responses to “wisdom of our parents

  1. So lovely and so b eautiful 🙂 Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice weekend, love, nia

  2. I agree whole-heartedly, Shimon…My 4-leggeds and my gardening are so much better for my spirit than mind-sucking television and what passes for reality, or what best sells under that label…These are such beautiful photographs of beautiful cats. I find my cat (and dog) companions are unique, too; so very distinct and pure in being exactly who they are, as you say, without guile or need to manipulate.

    Thank you for making me once again grateful for the lessons they offer. You, too! Blessings on your Sabbath.

    • Sometimes, because I’m really not that involved in western culture, I make an allusion to something and others find it misleading. I don’t watch much TV, so all of what’s broadcast has become sort of a reality show for me. What I was actually watching, what I was referring to in this post, was a news broadcast of a political event. But though it was real, I found it so hard to relate to, that I chose instead to focus on the cats. Now I see that many understood that I was watching that entertainment which is called ‘reality’. All I can say is that when you have to declare something as reality, it suggests the opposite. Thanks for the comment, Kitty

  3. I’m not a huge fan of watching TV. Watch it rarely only when I’m really bored. But I do like observing things around me and I love looking at animals. Cats don’t seem to ask for much…just a few cuddles and strokes 🙂 Great shots. I love how you captured the light gently falling over them.

    • You and me, both, Mabel. I remember enjoying TV at some earlier stage, but I find it very hard to watch these days. Thanks so much for coming by and for your comment.

  4. Absolutely I agree with you! Ha! No, cats don’t try to please us, do they?! I would so love for mine, just once, to say “It’s OK if I do this, right?” Have a wonderful weekend, Shimon.

    • Hi Loisa. I think they’re often willing to share some of their joy with us… and even to pamper us if they’re in the mood. But always because they want to. They’re not going to take orders… or to do it for us. I so appreciate that.

  5. Fantastic post, and I particularly love the sage advice – ‘Don’t work to win a prize’ – the only prize I ever won was almost by accident:)
    Well, you knew of course that I would love this post with Nechame looking so beautiful with her new friend……and like you, I prefer looking at and being with cats more than just about anything….oh and painting them. xx

    • Yes, I know that, Janet… and love your paintings of them. And I agree with you on prizes too, of course. I’m not against. But toiling for recognition is a dead end. We have to do it because it comes from within. I really loved those shadows of the leaves on Nechama’s back. Thanks xxx

  6. I forgot to say….as for reality tv shows….at times I have to admit to having a very morbid fascination with the madness of it all…….x

  7. Yes. Cats just ARE. Always cats. There is a lesson there. Happy weekend, Shimon.

  8. I love this post- for the wise words and the wonderful photos of the cats. Shabbat Shalom Shimon

  9. I avoid watching those “reality” shows like the plague, Shimon. Yes, I know what you mean – Please don’t let this be reality. People on those usually just behave badly. I, too, would much rather hang with my cats!

    • It seems to me that too much of television is aimed at keeping us glued to the screen. Now that there are a lot of alternatives for entertainment, they might have to start looking for something more meaningful. I hope so. As for the cats, I can often enjoy watching them even when they aren’t doing anything. It’s an inspiration. Thanks for your comment, Cathy.

  10. Fifteen years ago, or so, I used to watch a “reality” makeover program. I loved how they helped people who were struggling to start over, including life coaches. Then I read the blog of one of the participants after she left the show. She recounted her frustration and disappointment that they kept trying to pin her problems on her father. They wanted more conflict, better ratings. She felt like she missed an opportunity to make real progress because they were stuck on their narrative instead of considering other possibilities. I haven’t watched a “reality” show since. They aren’t reality at all. They’re scripted more than many people realize. Hollywood has found a way to produce shows without paying the actors. Brilliant on their part.

    I love watching our feral cats. I call them our self-moving lawn ornaments. 😀 May you be blessed.

    • Many years ago, they had these quiz programs on television, and it later turned out that they too were fixed. I think that TV is primarily a business of entertainment. Even when they try to tell us the news. There are very few programs that really widen our horizons or teach us something we truly enjoy. But it was good for a while. And now, if they want to keep on going, they’ll have to change. Most of us live completely surrounded by the inventions and modifications of other people. I think your self-moving lawn ornaments, Judy, are closer to the reality of nature than most of what we look at during the day. Thanks for the comment.

  11. I’ve never watched a reality show. The very idea of a televised “reality” is a sort of unreality. On the other hand, that a cat would consent to live with us is a real blessing. (P.S. I see that head, cheek and under-the-chin scratching is an international feline pleasure.)

    • Yes, I agree with you, Nina, about the unreality of such TV fare. Back a few years, when I used to watch the news on TV after work, I would often find my cat in a pose very reminiscent of mine, sitting on my easy chair and watching the TV with his stomach exposed. Sometimes, he would even cross his legs. This gave me no end of pleasure.

  12. I could never stomach game shows. They irritate me beyond measure. I agree, I’d rather play with my dog or, of course, read a book!

    • It is really amazing, Fatima, that reading a book, which is a practice that is so much older than television, is so much more rewarding. The greatest advantage to TV was immediacy. But now that we have the internet. I often wonder how the TV will be able to compete.

      • I agree, especially when all the best programmes are shown on Sky TV and one has to buy a satellite dish and pay extra for membership. We don’t have one and we never will. In fact, we spent 3 years without a telly and we didn’t miss it at all, but bought one for our son, who used to go ho his grandparents’ and watch it there and then asked why we didn’t have one…

  13. What does it say about our society, I wonder, that ‘reality’ shows (which are really another form of fantasy) and ‘celebrities’ are the daily fare of so many? I agree with you. Cats are much more interesting.

    • Actually, Gill, I wasn’t even watching a real ‘reality’ show. It was a political event, presented by the television. And as such, it became just as unreal as all the other entertainment they feed to us. I often wonder, like yourself, why it’s so popular. But I suspect it’s one of two things. Either it satisfies the inherent laziness of the viewing public, or the shows offer some sort of narcissistic image of themselves.

  14. Such simple and sweet wisdom for a Friday morning. Thank you, Shimon.

  15. I think cats are full of wisdom similar to Buddha. I call mine Buddha my black cat that name sometimes. Such simple words full of wisdom and the cats to go with it.

    • Yes seeker, I agree with you that cats have an acceptance of the world as it is, that reminds us of Buddha. On the other hand, though, their willingness to take sport in the capture and killing of their prey keeps them at least a step away from the state of mind that most Buddhists aspire to. Thanks very much for coming by, and your comment.

  16. And I liked the pictures too.

  17. I totally agree about so called reality shows, they are utterly depressing, and when there are so many other interesting things people can do with their time, it’s surprising to me that anyone watches them at all! Hubs and I record all the programmes we like to watch so we don’t have to suffer with adverts either.
    Now….although I agree with what you say about cats not wanting to please people, I sometimes suspect that Curly goes out of his way to please me, he behaves more like a dog at times, being incredibly affectionate and wanting my company, he loves it when I garden without the dogs, I kneel and weed then shuffle on and he moves too so that he is always sat next to me. I’m also surprised that he allows me to carry him in each night, he is so trusting I can carry him right past the dogs without him scratching me, I suspect I’m deluding myself though, the reality is that he has me trained and always gets exactly what he wants, even down to sitting next to the catmint I planted for him….that’s his cue for me to pick some for him to roll in! We never own cats, they own us…
    What marvelous cat pictures, now who in the right mind wouldn’t want to watch cats???? I love the pink blotchy noses in the first picture and Nechama and her shadow is fantastic! That is one adorable tabby, is it Channa’s? Or Jane’s…I am becoming forgetful!xxx

    • Oh, I’m sure you’re right, Dina, about Curly going out of his way to please you. I’ve had very intensive friendships with cats, and found them to be both generous and empathetic. It’s just that unlike dogs, they won’t be ordered around. And it aggravates them when something is expected from them. They want to give of their own free will and have it come from them. I don’t know dogs that well, but I have been impressed by their capacity for love, and their loyalty. But dogs need leadership and authority. And cats are the true democrats. They always face us on an equal status.
      As for Chana and Janne, they are the same person. But since the first letter of her name in Hebrew has no English equivalent, I created the confusion while trying to transliterate her name. I meant for the J to sound like Juanita as the Mexicans would say it, and then adopted the Ch. Her cat is named Charlie, which makes it much easier for me to write about him in an English blog. And yes, one of his best characteristics is his ability to accept praise and love with equanimity. Glad you liked the shadow of the leaves on Nechama. I just loved that shot. xxx

  18. I just read a story you’d probably like… a man who had twenty cats.He was married but went off sex after his wife had a baby.Each cat played a different role on his life.One kissed him goodnight,one woke him up,one slept with him.one was very needy and made him feel wanted.I suppose it was cheaper than having twenty concubines.
    Very loving pictures;quite delightful to look at while feeling confused

    • hmmm Kathryn, quite a story. Having 20 cats might not be any easier than having a harem. And as for his giving up sex after his wife had a baby, that reinforces all the negative stereotypes about the English. You know, in some countries they go on to have another six or seven children. Though I have to admit that as a visitor, I would prefer the house with 20 cats. I suppose it probably would be more peaceful. Thanks for your comment. Your news item did amuse me.

  19. Great feline pics. Great post Shimon.

  20. Nechama, tell your man he is doing quite a good job with your comforts, that if he did not please you and give you the occasional cushion pad you might not give him such loving looks. And as for that shiny striped seductive petted tabby, what does it want with your man? Watch out, there’s competition about.
    Once you’ve had your bowl of food, you can tell Shimon what being the cat which got the cream is all about and what it really means!

    • I will translate your words and convey them without prejudice to Nechama. Thank you menhir. Actually, Nechama is more choosy and narrow minded than Charlie, and that’s what comes between them. Charlie makes friends easily, and has an easy going manner. He even gets along with dogs. Nechama, on the other hand, has her reservations, and won’t suffer to be in the same room with a dog. I tell her, why get upset? We can all be friends. And she scowls at me, and says, ‘Better we wait for the Messiah!’ But what can I do? I love her anyway, no matter how narrow minded she is.

  21. My sons both had cats when they were growing up, and I remember those cats bringing them much comfort and companionship. Plus they were engaging to watch, since we invariably had more than one, and they would tumble about with one another, always up to some sort of mischief. Eventually both expanded their pet repertoire to include dogs, so we were a combined cat and dog household, for most of their growing up years. Now that they are both married, both have continued the tradition, in that they have had both cats and dogs. I suppose if you love animals, you always find a way for them to be a part of your life. Enjoyed seeing the photos of Nechama (and friends). Always good to hear from you.

    • Good to hear of your sons, and that they continued along paths that started in your collective home. I never got to know dogs that well, but was very close to cats all my life. My children and grandchildren are more open minded than myself, and there are some homes now that have both dogs and cats, as well as other animals. Thanks for your comment, Nancy.

  22. I smiled at your just barely hidden wisdom in your first sentences, which could just as easily read, “He who chases after cats… cats will escape him. And he who tries to avoid cats, cats will chase after him.”

    I’m happy to be cat-ching up with you. It’s been a busy time around here, and now I’m reading your blog with one eye that lost its cat-aract last Wednesday. I had my “near” lens implanted in my left eye, and next will come the “far” lens in the right. It was an unbelievably easy procedure, although there was the usual waiting around in this room and that: necessary, I suppose, though tiresome.

    One of the best things I did for myself was to literally get rid of the television. Clearly, there are things worth watching, but for the most part, if there is something I really want to see, like a film or a particular program,there are ways to do so on the computer. Since the news is no longer news, but a combination of entertainment and propaganda, I don’t miss that, and I’ve found that the absence of reality-show watching gives me more time for reality. What’s not to like about that?

    • Yes Linda, your application of the age old wisdom to inter-species relationships between humans and cats was most appropriate. I often complain that in this age of star worship, we forget that organism which is greater than the individual, the collective awareness of being part of society; of being part of a culture. But for those who insist on putting the accent on individualism, I would suggest that we not study the celebrity as a model, but look to the cat, who doesn’t engage in mutual admiration with his or her friends. There is dignity and commitment.
      I wish you great success with your eye treatments. I too have cataracts, but it is hard for me to accept intervention, and very unlikely that I will ever be able to adapt such a sophisticated treatment. All the same, I admire those who take it all in stride. Thank you very much for your comments, which inspired me to check out your blog for a second time. I can now recommend your writing to all those who search for meaningful discussion in blogland. You have my most enthusiastic appreciation.

      • Too many people understand culture and tradition as constrictive, rather than freeing. It seems hard for them to grasp that creativity and individuality are nurtured by being grounded in a history larger than themselves. It amuses me that certain of my friends, who like to imagine themselves as radical non-conformists, are indistinguishable from the hordes now living their lives tethered to electronic devices that tell them: wear this, buy that, believe this.

        My, goodness. Don’t I sound the curmudgeon?

        I’m so pleased and honored that you enjoyed your browse through my pages. If nothing else, my blog is a tiny piece of evidence that conversation on the web can be just that: conversation. I haven’t time for nastiness or thoughtlessness in “real life,” and it’s never seemed to me that it has to be accepted as a normal part of cyberspace. There’s to much to be enjoyed, and learned.

  23. Watching cats has got to be more interesting and restful than watching a reality TV show. Would that we were all more like cats 🙂

    • Yes, there is much that we can learn from cats. I have learned from them all my life. And yet, we human beings have many characteristics that they couldn’t even dream of. Lets hope that we learn from all those around us, and realize our own wonderful potential. Thanks, Angeline.

  24. Lovely! Yes, cats are a far preferable form of reality to any “reality” television! Especially your beautiful companions.
    A blessed week to you, my friend!

  25. These are wonderful shots Shimon!

  26. Peace and love in watching the animal souls who grace life and in nature….they are all the entertainment I need (ohh and music!) – a lovely and wise post Shimon, thank you – hugs Xx

    • I am sure that we agree about a lot of things, Jane. It is such a wild adventure, making friends with animals. Thank you very much for your comment, and I too send you hugs and kisses.

  27. As the caretaker for five cats, I very much agree with you, they are far more entertaining and real than “reality” TV, which really isn’t very real.

    • Each cat I’ve learned to know, is a world unto itself, unexpected and unexplainable. Unfortunately, I suspect that ‘reality shows’ are supposed to be educational. I would recommend that we look elsewhere for inspiration. Thanks very much for your comment, Josie.

  28. The article lighten my heart. Thank you. http://www.bellofpeace.org

    • Thanks for introducing yourself, Gede Prama. May we all hear the ring of peace, and have true peace inside and out. Best wishes to you and to your people.

  29. I like the kitty cat pictures. I miss having one. I haven’t had one since August of 2012. I’m thinking I might get one later this year because they are such good company. Much better than reality shows…which I don’t watch either.

    • A cat is a great companion indeed, Corina… and if only you lived closer to me, I’d come and visit you right away, with a cat friend in tow. But I’m sure you’ll find a good one as soon as you really decide it’s time to have such a housemate. Best wishes to you always.

  30. In just a few words, you expressed my own sentiments about reality TV. I’m sure it causes many people to start praying.

    I don’t have cats, but we have plenty of birds in the backyard, and they are a constant delight.

    • today… I watched as a small cat and a crow investigated a few discarded tidbits outside… they were cheek to cheek, which surprised me. But there seemed to be no angst nor affection between them… they were coexisting without prejudice… Thanks for coming by, my dear yearstricken.

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