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by Rabbi Shmuel Kraines

The Earth says, “To Hashem is the Earth and all that fills it, the Earth and all who inhabit it.” (Tehillim 24:1)
And it says, "From the end of the Earth, songs we have heard, splendor for the Righteous One." (Yeshayahu 24:16)

Man rules the Earth and considers it his own. The Earth sings that, in truth, man belongs to the Earth, and the Earth belongs to Hashem, the ultimate Master of all.

This is expressed by the way in which man was fashioned from the Earth, stands firmly upon it, feeds on it, and is eventually buried within it, empty-handed of his supposed possession. The Earth itself was created by Hashem, and it is He Who suspends it firmly in the cosmos and maintains its inhabitability. The Earth therefore sings that “the Earth and all that fills it” belong to Hashem alone. We, too, are to acknowledge Hashem’s ownership of the Earth by blessing Him before benefiting from it, and by willingly sharing His bounty with others.

The Earth sings further that, "From the end of the Earth, songs we have heard, splendor for the Righteous One." The plain meaning of this is that the Earth was formed starting from its principle part, the place of the BeitHamikdash — “the end of the Earth” — and henceforth the Earth sings through that gateway to Heaven of “splendor for the Righteous One.”

On a deeper level of understanding, "kenaf," meaning “end,” can also mean “wing”. Our Sages teach that the angels have six wings with which they sing to Hashem, using one for each weekday. On the seventh day they say to Hashem, "We have no wing with which to sing!" He tells them that He has another wing, "the wing of the Earth," which sings to Him on Shabbat. Some explain that this refers to the special kedushah of Mussaf. A wing is an apt symbolism for a source of song. Just like a wing lifts its wielder, our praise of Hashem raises us closer to Him.

  • Sources: Targum; Yalkut Shimoni (Ha'azinu); Tosafot (Sanhedrin 37b); Aderes Shmuel (Rabbi Shmuel Salant)

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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