For the week ending 20 May 2023 / 29 Iyar 5783

The Song of Creeping Creatures

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
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Creeping Creatures say: “The Jewish People will rejoice in their Maker; the children of Zion will delight in their King!” (Tehillim 149:2)

“Creeping creatures” (sheratzim) refers to all low-crawling lifeforms, including rodents, lizards, turtles, and insects, which the Torah pronounces repulsive, impure, and forbidden for consumption. One of the reasons for this is that whatever a person absorbs into his body affects him, and thus, the consumption of creeping creatures would lower, contaminate, and ruin our souls.

Hashem declared, “Would it be that I raised the Jewish nation up from Egypt only so that they would not contaminate themselves with creeping creatures, it would have been enough for Me!” We may explain this as follows: The Torah compares our conduct as slaves in Egypt to that of creeping creatures, that is, lowly and impure. When Hashem raised us up from that lowly state, and gave us the Torah from the highest Heavens, He commanded us never again to eat creeping creatures, which would return us to our original lowly state. Hence, this mitzvah is so important that it justifies the entire Exodus. The creeping creatures thus sing that the Jewish People rejoice upon their Creator and delight upon their King for sanctifying them with His Divine mitzvahs and raising them not just about the level of slaves, but also far above all the other nations.

Hashem’s mitzvahs were not designed to limit us, but rather to lift us up from the earthly pull of our bodies and of the world we live in. We thank Him for this with the blessings we recite before performing any mitzvah. When we rejoice over elevated status, which places all the impurities in this world far below our reach, we bring forth song from the countless multitudes of creeping creatures across the planet.

  • Sources: Bava Metzia 61b; Ohr HaChaim to Vayikra 11:43; Seforno to Shemos 1:7; Likkutei Maamarim to Perek Shira

*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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