Monday, 8 December 2014

The Beautiful Teeth and The Shark Carcass (Video Included)

A story is told concerning Rabbi Akiva who was once walking with his students. They came across the carcass of a donkey. The donkey had a bad smell - and the students' response was to immediately comment concerning the vile odour emanating from the animal. Rabbi Akiva replied, "But look at how white it's teeth are!"

We live in a world where almost all things have the property of being able to be seen in a good light or a negative one. We can see the good in something we are looking at, or its opposite. The video included below is a fascinating example of the different types of people there are in our world.

Take the shark for instance... It is a predator - an animal that eats other animals and any other meat it finds inside the ocean - for its own sustenance. Who could think well of the shark? Let us not forget the teachings of that Midrash that speak of the Jewish people as they left Egypt. While they crossed the sea to encounter their own freedom, the Egyptians were drowning. Here the Midrash teaches us, the Jewish people began to sing in praise to Hashem for having saved them. But Hashem was not happy. He has created a world and a variety of creatures in it - for His glory. How can one sing and rejoice when G-d's creatures are dying?! For this reason - when it comes to the festival of Pesach, we do not recite the entire Hallel, save for the first day (or two in the diaspora). We may not sing completely when others are suffering. It's a powerful lesson.

It tells us that even when there's a "carcass" - never forget that it may also carry beautiful teeth. It may have done good. It may be good itself. It may still have done even more good - had it continued to live. Hashem has a purpose for all of His creations - though we cannot always understand why. It is also redundant to have to say that it is unnecessary to praise the evil around us. We are not required to gloat over evil. However when something has a Pareve status to it, we must be able to acknowledge and praise it as being a creation of G-d. It may not be killed and murdered or destroyed just because we feel it has some bad element to it. We may not behave cruelly with something just because we cannot feel (sic) it as being a living creation with it's own feelings of life.

In the video we see the difference between the kinds of people there are in the world and we are reminded of the story of Rabbi Akiva and his students. While many people hunt shark for their fins (for soup) and for their meat - going so far as to cruelly kill these creatures, yet others see a mother in front of them with the potential for continuing its own species. It is a life after all. It is a part of G-d's wondrous creation! Is it correct to save the lives of a creature that consumes as the shark does?!

What is clear is that G-d has created this species. It is His desire that it be here and fulfill a particular task in the world. We certainly recall one enormous fish that saved the life of a great prophet - Jonah. Our duty is to look after the world and all its creatures in the best way we can. There will always be bad odours. But when it comes to ourselves, will we choose to smell the odour, or view something beautiful that may once have existed, or perhaps exists even now? Will we choose to destroy because "we are in charge," or will we choose to see good and do good wherever we are and in whatever we do?

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