Samuel Segal, the Regal Bald Eagle by Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Samuel Segal is a bald eagle.
Samuel Segal is very regal.
This story relates how and why
Samuel Segal became a Rabbi.
How did Samuel Segal, the regal bald eagle, become a Rabbi? He studied at a rabbinical school just like everyone else who becomes a Rabbi.
When he applied to the school, the head of the rabbinical school said to Samuel Segal, “An American bald eagle does not look very Jewish, but I know that looking Jewish is not very important. What is important is your desire to study Torah and to do Mitsvot. We have had Samuel Segals who became Rabbis before, but we have never had a Samuel Segal who is a regal bald eagle, become a Rabbi.”
“Then I will be the first,” said Samuel Segal.
“But you are an eagle,” said the head of the rabbinical school, “and an eagle is not a kosher bird.”
“I know.” said Samuel Segal, “Eagles are not kosher birds like chickens, ducks or turkeys because we hunt small animals. When I first studied the Torah I learned about many different Mitsvot. I wanted to do as many of the Mitsvot as I could, so I stopped eating dead animals, and I stopped hunting rabbits. Now I only eat fish like trout and salmon, and occasionally a little herring. I also started eating Matsah, and stoped eating bread and pasta, during the week of Passover. Now I am a kosher American bald eagle.”
“A very kosher, regal, bald eagle,” said the head of the rabbinical school. “How did you come to study Torah?”
“I was very lucky,” said Samuel Segal, the regal bald eagle, “I became friends with two Jewish children, Aisha and Talya Segal. They invited me to dinner one Friday night. It was my first Shabbat dinner and I loved it. They lit the Shabbat candles and said the blessing. Then they blessed the wine and the bread and sang some Hebrew songs.
“Their parents were very proud of them and the whole family glowed with Shabbat joy and peacefulness. They invited me back again and again. I loved celebrating Shabbat with them and I joined them in blessing the Shabbat candles and the wine and the Hallah.
“I asked them lots of questions about Judaism, so they invited me to come with them to the Jewish school where they studied. At the school I learned about God, and the Torah, and all kinds of Mitsvot that I could do. The Segal family also took me to Shabbat and holy day services with them.
“After a few years, I decided I wanted to become Jewish, so the Segals took me to see Rabbi Maller. We had many long talks. I told Rabbi Maller that almost all American eagles believe that freedom is the most important value. Every eagle should be an independent individual, so as to be as free as possible. But I am different.
“I think responsibility is the most important value and I wanted to be part of a community/flock; and be responsible to care for and share with others. I wanted to do Mitsvot. Also, American eagles mate for life; so I believe that loyality is a very important value. The Jewish people have been loyal and faithful to the Torah for over 3,000 years, and I admire the Jewish People very much for that.
“Rabbi Maller told me I already had a Jewish soul so there was no reason why I shouldn’t join the Jewish people. He said I didn’t look very Jewish but I acted and thought very Jewish; and that is what is important.
“I studied with him for several months. When I became Jewish I took the family name of Segal, because if the Segal children had not encouraged me, I never would have studied Torah or become Jewish. Rabbi Maller gave me the name Samuel, after the first King of Israel, because I was going to be the first Jewish American bald eagle.”
“And now you are going to become the first American bald eagle Rabbi.” said the head of the rabbinical school. “Welcome home, Samuel Segal you do indeed have a regal eagle Jewish soul.”
So Samuel Segal, the regal bald eagle, became a Rabbi. He taught Torah to many other eagles who now fish and migrate together. Aisha and Talya truly did a great Mitsvah when they reached out, and invited in, a regal bald eagle who became Rabbi Samuel Segal.
After 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City Calif. Allen Maller retired in 2006. He is the editor of a series of High Holy Days prayer books; the author of a book on Jewish mysticism, “God, Sex and Kabbalah“; and the husband since 1966 of Judy Coopersmith. Visit his website at http://www.rabbimaller.com” target=”rabbi for more information.