I Look At The Moon, Now

When I was little, my dad told me I should never look at the moon. He had a story that went something like this: When the sun and the moon were created, they were equal in size and strength. But the moon wasn't happy with this arrangement, so he demanded that God make him more powerful than the sun. In response to this arrogance and vanity, God took away his light and now he has to spend the rest of eternity in the shame of merely reflecting the light of his nemesis, the sun. So, looking at the moon embarrasses it and shames it further.

I realized much later that this stems from a Jewish folk tale that somehow got twisted - in the classic tale, there is no shame. It has a more dispassionate ending; God gives the sun the power of light and warmth, and the moon the power of the tides and the calendar, the marking of holy days. The lesson there is perhaps that complementary relationships are better than exact equivalence. My father spends a lot of time studying Jewish writings, so ignorance is not a likely reason here, and why he would turn this story into something so weird is beyond me. The lesson in the weirdness of his story clearly is: Don't ask for too much or you get nothing. And: Don't look at people when they are in shame.

As a child I would sneak looks at the moon but only for a moment, so as not to make it feel bad.
Fallflower Fallflower
41-45, F
2 Responses Feb 15, 2012

Is 'weird' a little strong? Stories about punished vanity and egocentricity are a staple of all cultures. I say the moon deserved it and that she's lucky the cow didn't land on her.

That is cute, I could picture myself reacting to looking at the moon like that. Sneaky curious little babe. And I love learning about folklore from different cultures. Thanks for sharing!