For the week ending 26 August 2023 / 9 Elul 5783

Perek Shira: The Song of the Snail

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
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The Snail says: “Like a snail that dissolves as it moves, like the stillborn of a woman, that never see the sun.” (Tehillim 58:9)

The snail is particularly sensitive to dehydration, and therefore prefers to seek food at night and after cooling rain. It excretes moisturizing slime as it slithers, and effectively melts in hot temperatures.

The snail sings of King David’s unique prayer regarding his enemies, who were Torah scholars yet slandered and hunted him without cause. In the same way a snail moves unhurriedly, knowing that it can find protection from predators within its shell, David’s enemies were unafraid of being punished for they relied on the great merit of their Torah. David therefore pleaded that they should forget their Torah and melt like a dehydrated snail, and not merit enjoying reward for their Torah in the World to Come, like “a stillborn that does not see the light.”

The snail’s song teaches about the futility of Torah study that is not stored within fear of Heaven and processed into virtuous conduct. As much as we strive to grow in Torah, we must strive to absorb it into every fiber of our beings, to spread its lessons, to perfect the world around us, and to merit the Torah’s all-encompassing blessings.

  • Sources: Based partially on Seforno

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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