Perek Shira: The Song of Wild Animals
Wild Animals say: “Blessed is He Who is good and does good.”
Unlike domesticated animals, which are fed by their masters in exchange for their various services, animals of the wild are not cared for by man. Nonetheless, the Creator does not forsake them. He provides on a daily basis for the myriads of beings that are dependent upon Him alone and have nothing to give Him in return. They thus sing, “Blessed is He Who is good” — altruistically good — “and does good.”
When Adrianus Caesar destroyed the great Jewish city of Beitar, he erected tens of thousands of its corpses as a fence for his vineyard. A double miracle occurred: One is that they did not rot, and two is that seven years later a different king came to power and gave permission for the “fence” to be dismantled and the corpses to be buried respectably. Upon seeing these miracles, Rabban Gamliel enacted the blessing, “Who is good and does good.”
In light of the above explanation that this blessing describes the altruistic nature of Hashem’s kindness, we may suggest that it was enacted then because the miracles performed on behalf of the corpses of Beitar demonstrated to the world that Hashem’s kindness is altruistic, as the dead can never reciprocate. For this reason, the Sages call kindness performed for a dead person “chessed shel emes” — true kindness.
In order to emulate the true kindness of our Creator, we must be willing to open our scope of kindness beyond that which gives us a good feeling and good returns. Anonymous kindnesses may go unnoticed by people, but specifically because of this, Hashem notices them the most. Whenever we extend kindness for the sake of kindness, we give expression to the kindness of Hashem Himself — and we give voice to the Song of the Wild Animals.
- 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