My informant has been hearing this proverb from her mother and grandmother her entire life. She says, “I was always a really impatient kid, who wanted more than what I had–especially when it came to holidays like Hannukah when we would exchange gifts. One year, when I was around seven, I got a computer game when I really wanted a Gameboy. I remember sort of trying to disguise my disappointment, but my mom still pulled me aside later and used this proverb to remind me that what I have is always better than what I don’t have, regardless of how much I want the other thing. It’s definitely something that has stuck with me since then, and I try to remember it all the time.” The proverb goes as follows:
“The berry I have got tastes better than the melon I was promised.”
I really like this proverb, and to me it seems like something to live by; there are many practical applications of it in everyday life. It seems to be fairly similar to the English proverb “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” meaning that you should always be content with what you do have as opposed to what you could have. I’ve never heard this particular Hebrew iteration of the proverb, but it is interesting how similar the meanings of the two are. In addition, the gustatory aspect of this proverb makes it more accessible to all audiences. In addition, I found a notation in an old newspaper article from 1885, which shows how far back the proverb goes.
Annotation: “Talmudic Proverbs: Striking Illustrations of the Popular Wisdom of the Hebrews.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922) 23 May 1885: 2. Print.