For the week ending 26 November 2022 / 2 Kislev 5783

Perek Shira: The Song of the Raven

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by Rabbi Shmuel Kraines

The Raven says: “Who prepares for the raven its sustenance when its young cry out to Hashem?” (Iyov 38:41)

There is a species of raven that is born white and blackens as it reaches adulthood. The father suspects its offspring to be the progeny of another male and they are neglected. Nevertheless, no living being is neglected by Hashem: the chicks feed on fleas that emerge from their droppings. Thus, the merciless raven sings a song of Divine mercy.

The verse of this song refers to Hashem as “Keil” (meaning, “G-d”), a term that describes the immenseness of His mercy. Although the responsibility of feeding offspring belongs to their parents, and although the raven chicks themselves are destined to be cruel to their own offspring, Hashem does not withhold His overwhelming Divine compassion when the chicks call out to Him.

We should strive to emulate Hashem in this way. When approached by the poor, our first reaction should not be to study him critically, considering whether he is at fault for his state of need. Rather, exercising the Divine mercy that flows from within our Jewish souls, we should open our hearts to his cry, and to that of his helpless family.

It can sometimes be virtuous to restrain mercy, similar to the nature of the raven. In order to properly devote oneself fully to his service of Hashem, a person has to be wary not to be overly attentive to the physical comfort of himself and his family. A person never loses out by casting his lot with Hashem. Just like Hashem takes care of the raven, He takes care of all who shelter under His wing.

  • Sources: Ketuvot 49b; Vayikra Rabbah 19:1.

In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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