Mighty Mouse and the Too-Short Ladder (A Yom Kippur Allegory)
Released September 13, 1998
MAY BE COPIED, REPRINTED, REDISTRIBUTED
Once upon a time, the arrogant Emperor of the Wealthiest Land in the
West hid a secret from his dear friend, the Prime Minister of the Mouse
State in the Middle East. He did not want the Mouse Prime Minister to
know that the Rats of Arabia were building weapons to destroy the Mouse
A Brave Little Mouse, who happened to be in the employ of the Emperor,
discovered this diabolical plot and pleaded with the Emperor's Officers
to warn the Mouse Prime Minister so that he could save the Mouse State
and all the mice in it. The Emperor's Officers mocked Brave Little Mouse
and ordered him to be quiet!
Brave Little Mouse could not rest while he knew that his fellow mice in
the Middle East were in danger. He ran everywhere, trying to get
permission to warn the Mouse Prime Minister. But no one in the Empire of
the Wealthiest Land in the West would give him permission, and no one
would help him.
Finally, in desperation, Brave Little Mouse ran to the Mouse Prime
Minister and told him personally of the Emperor's duplicity and of the
Arabian Rats' plan to annihilate the Mouse State in the Middle East.
The Emperor eventually found out that Brave Little Mouse had spilled the
beans to his dear friend, and he was furious! The Mouse Prime Minister
trembled at the fury of the Emperor. The Mouse Prime Minister completely
disowned Brave Little Mouse. He personally handed Brave Little Mouse
over to the Emperor for punishment. And of course the Mouse Prime
Minister did not protest when the Emperor chose the harshest punishment
in the history of the Empire for Brave Little Mouse.
All the mice of the Wealthiest Land in the West, and all the mice of
the Mouse State in the Middle East, said it was a shame, but never mind
it was Brave Little Mouse's own fault for telling the Prime Minister all
those secrets, and anyway somebody else will save Brave Little Mouse,
but not me, so please don't bother me.
For 14 years, Brave Little Mouse languished at the bottom of a deep
pit, 50 meters below ground. He was tried and tested in the most severe
conditions for all of those years, and for more than half of them he was
afflicted with solitary confinement. He remains there, even though
others who committed far more serious offenses against the Emperor have
long since gone home. There is no end in sight for Brave Little Mouse's
Every year for 14 years, some of Brave Little Mouse's brothers, for
reasons of their own, come to the edge of the pit and check that Brave
Little Mouse is still alive. They pose for pictures, taking care not to
lean too far over the pit. They shout words of encouragement to him.
They promise that they will do everything in their power to help him.
They tell him they will be back. Brave Little Mouse knows that that they
never mean it. If they did, he would no longer be in the pit.
After rotting in the pit for many years, Brave Little Mouse begins to
fight back, not against the tormentors of the Empire, but against his
betrayers in the Mouse State. From the pit, Brave Little Mouse launches
two lawsuits against the Prime Minister of the Mouse State, and wins
them both. The Mouse Prime Minister and the Mouse State are found
legally and morally responsible for the plight of Brave Little Mouse
and are obliged to rescue him as they would any Mouse agent. They
promise publicly that they will do so at once!
Many months go by. Brave Little Mouse keeps waiting for the rescue team
to arrive. It never does. The Mouse Prime Minister keeps promising to
initiate an immediate rescue mission. He never does. Brave Little Mouse
is ill and worn out. He can hardly hold on, but he does. Brave Little
Mouse threatens to take action again. The Prime Minister of the Mouse
State knows that he must do something.
Ta-dah! Enter Mighty Mouse Minister. The Mouse Prime Minister hands
Mighty Mouse Minster a 25-meter ladder, and bids him go off to the
Wealthiest Land in the West to rescue Brave Little Mouse from the
Brave Little Mouse learns of the mission that Mighty Mouse Minster has
been charged with. He fires off faxes and phone calls to Mighty Mouse
"Stop!", Brave Little Mouse cries to Mighty Mouse Minister . "You
haven't got the right equipment! This pit is 50 meters deep and your
ladder is only 25 meters long! You have no support team! You have no
other tools! And the Mouse Prime Minister has not prepared the ground
for you! "
Mighty Mouse Minister knows that every word that Brave Little Mouse
says is true. He hesitates. He fears he may make a laughingstock of
himself in the west. He conferences with the Mouse Prime Minister and
the Mouse Cabinet Secretary several times and threatens not to go,
unless he is given the proper tools and the proper support to actually
accomplish the mission of rescuing Brave Little Mouse.
The Mouse Prime Minister convinces Mighty Mouse Minister that it is not
a good idea to ruffle the feathers of the Emperor by being too honest.
"A push to free Brave Little Mouse," he says, " would expose the
Empire's betrayal of the Mouse State, and the Emperor wouldn't like
that." So, Mighty Mouse Minister allows himself to be convinced that
it is more important that the Government of the Mouse State be seen
attempting to rescue Brave Little Mouse, than it is to actually succeed.
The Mouse Prime Minster assures him that with the right spin, Mighty
Mouse Minister will appear to be a great statesman, a Mouse diplomat!
Mighty Mouse Minister really does know better, but submits.
"HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY!" read the Media releases from Mighty Mouse
Minister's office. And off he flies to the Wealthiest Land in the West.
Of course, the ladder is too short, and Mighty Mouse Minister is
empty-handed except for the too-short ladder. Brave Little Mouse
protests vehemently that this initiative was nothing but a cruel
And all the wealthy Western Mice and beleaguered Middle Eastern Mice
read the press reports and scratch their heads. They don't understand
what Brave Little Mouse is complaining about.
"True," they say, " a 25-meter ladder does not help, when the pit is 50
meters deep. But it doesn't hurt either!" All of the scared little mice
of both East and West applaud Mighty Mouse Minister and tell Brave
Little Mouse to keep quiet or the Mouse Prime Minister may stop these
empty gestures completely!
With applause still ringing in his ears, Mighty Mouse Minister and the
too-short ladder return to the Mouse State in the Middle East,
All the Mice from East and West find it hard to witness the terrible
suffering that Brave Little Mouse still endures. So they all do their
very best to avoid looking into the pit. But every now and then, Brave
Little Mouse's cries manage to pierce the earplugs and blinders that
they wear. All of Brave Little Mouse's brothers look at each other and
earnestly agree. "Somebody really ought to do something to help him",
they mutter, as they scurry away.
And Brave Little Mouse continues to languish in that pit, crying out to
his brothers, right to this very day.