For the week ending 17 December 2022 / 23 Kislev 5783

Perek Shira: The Song of the Wild Goose

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by Rabbi Shmuel Kraines

When the wild goose flies over the wilderness and sees Yisrael involved in Torah study it says: “A voice calls in the wilderness, ‘Clear Hashem’s path! Straighten through the plains a pathway for our God.’” (Yeshayahu 40:3)

And on the finding of its sustenance in the wilderness it says: “Cursed is he who trusts upon man. Blessed is he who trusts upon God, and God becomes his reliance.” (Yirmiyahu 17:5 and 7)

The wild goose forages in the wilderness and eats from the hand of its Creator, lacking nothing. Remarkably, it is much larger and better off than its domesticated cousins who are fed and fattened by man — and then consumed.

In this way, the wild goose represents the blessing of a person who trusts in the Almighty and the foolishness of one who relies upon his own efforts and the favors of others. Whoever casts his lot upon Hashem merits to His blessing and protection, which enables him to devote his time to the pursuit of Torah knowledge.

Thus, the wild goose sings of a Heavenly voice that the prophet Yeshayahu heard sounding through the desolate Zion, calling to clear a path for Hashem and to lead the Jewish exiles back home. This voice is that which emanates from Mount Sinai every day and proclaims, “Woe is man for the disgrace of the Torah!” This voice urges the Jewish people to engage in Torah study so that Hashem can bring the redemption, which will come in the merit of Torah study.

This song is expressed most poignantly when the wild goose sees Torah scholars casting their lot upon Hashem and studying in the wilderness where it lives. This song was surely sung throughout the forty years that the Jewish people lived in the wilderness and engaged in the Torah that they had just received. Nonetheless, this song can also be heard today within the city, when Torah scholars “exile” themselves from the comforts and distractions of their homes to the “wilderness” of the Beis Midrash.

Although our national exile is a devastating punishment, it compels us to rely upon Hashem alone. Ultimately, it is this attachment to Him that will bring us back, against all odds.

  • Sources: Yaavetz; Knaf Renanim; Alshich; Likutei Amarim; Li Lishua

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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