For the week ending 25 February 2023 / 4 Adar 5783

Perek Shira: The Song of the Mule

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The Mule says:

“All kings of the land will acknowledge You, Hashem, when they heard the sayings of Your mouth.” (Tehillim 138:4)

A mule, the hybrid offspring of a horse and a donkey, is the product of the transgression of crossbreeding. Hashem chose specific designs for each of His creatures, and the mixture of species contradicts His will.

The Midrash teaches that when non-Jewish kings heard that Hashem commanded us in the Ten Commandments to respect parents like Himself, they acknowledged the utter correctness of all Hashem’s mitzvahs, unlike the selfish decrees of human kings, which are often unreasonable and unfair. The mule is a stark example of the correctness of Hashem’s mitzvahs. Although its breeder succeeded in creating a useful beast of burden, it is also clearly defective, as mules are sterile. They are also known to be harmful to people. Only when the world follows the natural order set by its Creator, and the Jewish people fulfill His commandments, does the world function successfully. The mule is thus a living song of the kings’ acknowledgment.

The Torah is the indispensable manual for life. It has stood the test of time throughout ever-changing world history, despite relentless assault from opposing theologies, and has emerged unchanged. At times, new philosophies confuse the masses to believe that another lifestyle is superior. So may it appear in one or two aspects — like the mule. However, it eventually falls on the roadside of history and does not bear fruits of true success — like the mule. By living according to the Torah in its purest form, passed down through an unbroken tradition from Sinai, our every step echoes the song of the mule.

  • Sources: Bamidbar Rabbah 8:4; Perek B’Shir based on Yerushalmi Berachos 8:5; Tziltzal Knafayim

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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