For the week ending 10 June 2023 / 21 Sivan 5783

Perek Shira: The Song of the Wolf

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
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The Wolf says:

“For every matter of crime, for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a garment, for any lost object, about which he will say, “This is it” — to the judges will the matter of the two come. He who is incriminated by the judges will pay two-fold to his fellow.” (Shemot 22:8)

Wolves are the most notorious predators of livestock. They attack like a band of thieves, preferring the darkness of the night and employing tactics of trickery. Wolves have been known to lure the shepherds away from the flocks with part of the pack while the rest of the pack attacks the defenseless sheep. They possess aggressive and brazen natures, and sometimes attack even when they are not hungry.

Wolves sing of Hashem’s justice — upon themselves — when the shepherds strike back at them. Their song is the Torah law regarding a shepherd from whom livestock were stolen, that the thief must repay doubly.

Although outright theft may be unthinkable to us, the fruitlessness of crime is a lesson with innumerable applications. Whenever we abstain from all-too-common questionable gains, we turn the wolf’s wail into a Divine song.

  • Sources: Targum Yonanasan to Shemos 22:8; Bereishis Rabbah 99:3; HaMeir; Daas Shalom; Malbim to Yechezkel 22:27; Kenaf Renanim

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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