For the week ending 6 May 2023 / 15 Iyar 5783

Perek Shira: The Song of the Elephant

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
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The elephant says: “How great are Your deeds, Hashem; very deep are Your thoughts!” (Tehillim 92:6)

Elephant in Hebrew is “pil,” which is related to the word “pele,” meaning wonder. Its huge size, elongated trunk, and overlarge ears are unique in the animal kingdom. It is an imposing mass of tough flesh, armed with spear-like ivory tusks, yet it feeds on nothing more than simple vegetation. Due to its unusual characteristics, our Sages teach that one who sees an elephant must recite the blessing “Meshaneh HaB’rios,” which praises Hashem for having fashioned diverse creatures (see Shulchan Aruch 225:8-9).

One can be certain that all of its strange features were in truth designed with deep wisdom. It was given a trunk since a long neck for feeding would not be able to hold its giant head. If it were carnivorous, it would be difficult for it to hunt enough meat to sustain its colossal body. As a massive being of wondrous design, it sings of the profound Divine wisdom within all of Hashem’s great deeds.

This song is excerpted from the psalm about the World to Come. Only then, when the world reaches its final state of perfection, will we be clearly able to perceive the true intent of Hashem’s great deeds.

Standing in the orchestra of the world, do not crane your neck to try to read the music notes of your neighbor. Your instrument and part are designed exactly according to your own abilities. Rejoice in your lot and play your part wholeheartedly. The Master Composer has arranged a song perfect beyond comprehension.

  • Sources: Malbim (cited in Hakol Yeshabchucha; see also Shemos 23:11); Bereishis Rabbah 96:5

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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