I’m not really sure how I never noticed it before. Maybe because the link was never pointed out to me as a child and now only as a parent am I so immersed in Disney culture that I’ve noticed it. Maybe G-d was sending me a message through my oldest, who on the long trip from temple to our break-the-fast chose Pinocchio of the half dozen movie options available to him. How did I not see the link between Pinocchio and Jonah?
I was really hoping he would pick any other movie, Monsters U, Lilo & Stitch, Peter Pan, etc… I was a little disappointed, but I only have to listen to the movie, he’s the one watching it. I have always thought Pinocchio was one of the scarier Disney movies. Pinocchio’s series of bad decisions led to some scary situations for a child to be in. Usually Disney will start with a scary moment, have one or two more leading up to or at the climax and then, bang bam boom, happy ending. Pinocchio is more like a scary sandwich, with feel good as the bread and a whole lot of naughty in between.
Jonah, also an example of a whole lot of naughty. Ignoring the direct request from G-d to set the Assyrians on the path of righteousness, running in the opposite direction, because why should he care about saving the bullies of his region? Why would Pinocchio go to school, when becoming a famous actor was surely more fun? They run as fast and far as they can, away from their responsibilities, but eventually, both end up calling out for their Father.
They both had to find themselves in the belly of a whale to “get it”. Even when Pinocchio is found by the blue fairy, he lies instead of confessing he’s been naughty. Being given the chance to do what’s right, he still shirks from the path of righteousness. Jonah and Pinocchio both had others to save. Who is Jonah to decide that the Assyrians (even if he despised them) were unworthy of G-d’s salvation? Pinocchio and Jonah both prove we are only “real” when we try to save others, when we do G-d’s work, when we are the best version of ourselves that we can be. And isn’t that what Yom Kippur is all about?
So this year, if you have young children, share the stories of Pinocchio and Jonah and talk about how they compare and how we can spend our efforts on holy, virtuous endeavors in the Jewish year ahead. Gmar Chatima Tovah: May you be inscribed for good and may the whale spit you out on dry land.
May the Schwartz Be With You
Pinocchio And Jonah by David Ronald Bruce Pekrul
Pinocchio and Jonah met in the Square,
They both were complaining, “It just isn’t fair,
That both our Creators would show little justice,
By treating us both like two little puppets.”
For God had a job for Jonah to do,
But he wouldn’t do it and said he was through,
Having strings being pulled both this way and that,
So he jumped on a ship like a spoiled little brat.
Pinocchio wanted to be a small boy,
But Geppetto was pulling his strings like a toy,
Instead of obeying, he tried to rebel,
But his nose started growing and people could tell.
They both ended up in the guts of a whale,
And all they could do was tread water and bail,
And think how they struggled when God tried to teach,
Until they were finally tossed onto a beach.
Let’s listen real well as we hear this sad tale,
Of Pinocchio, Jonah and Mostro the whale,
And learn a great lesson, to do as we should,
Whether we are a person or made out of wood.