What Does “Better An Egg Today Than An Ox Tomorrow" Mean?
Besser heint an ai aider morgen an ox.
For you vegans out there who aren’t terribly intrigued by either prospect, allow me to put this wise proverb in a language you can get behind: better a chickpea today than a Tofurky tomorrow. Got it? Cool. Regardless of whether you follow a Paleo, Lacto-ovo Vegetarian, or full-on Andrew Zimmern (a Jew who makes consuming your run-of-the-mill bacon look Kosher) diet, the sentiment here is the same.
Actually, its truth is not limited to the gastro-realm at all. The expression applies to life in general, but, in true Jewish form, we made it about food. The point is that this proverb reminds us that nothing is certain in life except the here and now. We should therefore be grateful for and not waste whatever we’re fortunate enough to have in this moment, no matter how meager in comparison to what we might gain in the future.
How’s that for deep? No wonder we made it about food—such a crucial lesson needs to be framed accordingly.
Maya stared out the window of her family’s minivan, completely consumed by what her teenage brain perceived to be an earth-shattering crisis of epic proportions. Her little brother, Joey, sat next to her, draining the battery of their mother’s phone by taking pictures of his feet and the long-discarded refuse that had been ground irreversibly into the mini van's carpeting. As her mother, Debbie, drove, she tried to engage Maya in conversation to no avail. Riding shotgun was Zeyde Fisher. Though a man of few words, he was the only one who could still draw Maya out from her often-impenetrable teenage funks. With a nudge from Debbie, Zeyde Fisher began to work his magic…
Zeyde: “Nu? Vat’s cookin’, bubbeleh? “
Maya: “Oh Zeyde! The absolutely worstest thi—”
Debbie: “Worst, honey. Worst.”
Maya: “UGHH! Whatever, Ma! Anyway. The absolute WORST thing happened!! OK, so, like, you know how the school dance is coming up this weekend and I’ve been waiting for, like, forever for Jake Brach to ask me? I know he’s gonna ask because Jennie told Becky that Gavin said that Jake might have been talking about me after practice two weeks ago. And NO, JOEEEEY, before you say anything, yes there’s another Maya in my grade, but there’s NO way it’s Maya Feldman—she’s totally gross! Anyway, so I’ve been waiting for Jake to ask me and THEN, out of nowhere today during free period, that kid Noah? Who sits next to me in band? Out of nowhere HE asked me to the dance!“
Debbie: “Is he cute? What does his father do?”
Maya: “MA! That’s not the point!!!!! I can’t say yes to Noah when any day now Jake, the cutest, most amazing, most popular boy in all of middle school, is going to ask me!!!! Duh!”
Zeyde: “Bubbeleh? I too vas in similar situation vit your Bubbe. I had my eye on another and your Bubbe, G-d bless her, she vasn’t exactly zee hottest chicky on zee block, and—”
Debbie: “Dad! That’s horrible!”
Zeyde: “Oh please, Debovah, it’s no secret. Anyvay, I’m talkink to Maya! My tatteh took me aside and gave me some important advice that I’ll give you now: Better an egg today than an ox tomorrow. It means, take vas you can get now, Bubbeleh—you can’t count on vat’s around the corner, and, if you do, you might end up vith an empty stomach! That reminds me, vere is this restaurant already? G-d villing I don’t starve to death before I see a menu!”
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