Previously, we talked about going to beach and appreciating God’s awesomeness in the world. Today, I want to follow up on that idea.
Like we discussed yesterday, the whole world is a beautiful thing that is worthwhile for us to enjoy. In fact, it was all created for us to enjoy and appreciate God’s awesomeness. This includes animals. But with animals it goes even deeper, regarding animals, not only are we meant to appreciate the awesomeness of God but we are meant to learn from them. We are taught, “מַלְּפֵנוּ, מִבַּהֲמוֹת אָרֶץ; וּמֵעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם יְחַכְּמֵנוּ – God teaches us from the animals of the land, and makes us wise from the flying creatures of the sky.” (Job 35:11) The sages explain the depth of this line: ““Rabbi Yochanan observed: If the Torah had not been given, we could have learned modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the rooster” (Eruvin 100b) This means, that beyond the normal scope of appreciating nature, we must try to learn something from the animals around us.
How? What we need to realize is that everything in this amazing world of ours can be observed on many levels. Things can be taken at their shallow face value or we can view them as a metaphor, looking beneath the surface and to what those things can represent for our lives. If we peel back the layers of the animals around us we can see a great many lessons, in fact there is an entire book dedicated to this topic, it is called Perek Shira, and it contains mystical depths about animals and the creation we live in. If you want to read more, there is a great book called Nature’s Song by Rabbi Natan Slifkin which goes over the entire thing.
On the coat-tails of our previous post, there is even a blessing to be said when a person sees beautiful animals and exotic ones.
Today’s Jewish mission is, go to the zoo, with a friend (or friends), significant other or family member and take a look at the awesome animals that God put in the world with us, try to learn something from them (you can put what you learned in the comments below, if you want) and say the blessing below!
Say this blessing when you see the first exotic animal (like elephant, monkey or gorilla) and have in mind that it applies to all the exotic animals you see that day: