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Shabbat Parashat Vayigash 5779

Ein Ayah: Symbiotic Relationship of Modesty

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:10)

Gemara: Why are the [sexual organs] of [sheep] covered, and those [of goats] are not covered. Those which we use to cover ourselves are covered; those which we do not use are uncovered.


Ein Ayah: The shepherd has the good fortune to be in a field, a place in which he can elevate his spiritual level. Hevel was a shepherd, and Hashem accepted his offering favorably (Bereishit 4:4). A shepherd should look at the material gain he receives from his flock and learn from it. The first thing he should notice is the moral insight related to the nature of these animals.

Sheep is the flock animal that is raised to use its hair for clothing, to cover one from his nakedness. It was blessed by its Maker with a covering over great parts of its own body, including a tail to cover its nakedness.

This teaches us that the goodness that one species provides for another comes back to help itself as well. All creations are interconnected, so that when there is a general improvement for the world, it benefits all beings. There is not war between living things, but rather an interrelationship of strength and peace.

Only those animals that are not used to cover us are not covered. Man’s honor does not allow one to dress himself in sackcloth, which is made from the hair of goats. The feeling of honor that a person has because of his higher soul also comes with a sign from the characteristic of the animal with which man embarks on his path toward material and spiritual acquisition. That is why sheep and goats are called ashterot, which hints at the fact that they enrich (ma’ashir) their owners (see Chulin 84b).    


Hashem Said “Stop” for Good Reasons

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:11)


Gemara: Why does a camel have a short tail? Because it eats thorns.  


Ein Ayah: There is a sort of unity in the wisdom of creation, which is responsible for the creation, the sustaining, and the nourishing of different species. That which caused an animal to be created in a certain manner also plays a role in its life in the future, including the way in which it provides food for itself. This even causes the process of creation to halt, for the right reason, as Hashem said to his world: “That is enough” (see Chagiga 12a), when this will help in the species’ existence in the future.     

It is true that animals often have a good use for tails, and creation sees to it that a tail grows along with its fur. However, since a camel needs to graze amidst the thorns, it was prevented from having its tail grow to normal size, as the tail would get stuck among the thorns.
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