Vol 7.07 - Shemini 1                                   Spanish French Audio  Video

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The gull, and s.v The owl… and the little owl and the difference to Rashi's commentary in Talmud (Chulin 63a, Berachot 46b)
Debate in the nature of the names of the fowl according to the simple understanding of the verse
The hint in Rashi's commentary: "catches fish from the sea" to Divine Providence which was revealed by the Baal Shem Tov

The owl, the gull, the little owl;


the gull: Heb. השלך  Our Rabbis explained:The שָׁלָך   is a bird that draws up (שׁוֹלָה) fish out of the sea (Chul. 63a). And this is the meaning of Onkelos'translation: השלך שַׁלֵינוּנָ fish catcher

The owl and the little owl: Heb.כּוֹס  וְיַנְשׁוּף . These are chouettes in French, i.e., “birds” that shriek at night, which have cheeks like those of a human. There is another "bird" similar to it called hibou in French


 17 The cormorant: The belief in Divine providence is a fundamental precept of Judaism. However, there are different schools of thought regarding the extent of G-d’s involvement in the intricacies and minutiae of nature. According to some classic Jewish philosophers, G-d merely supervises the special survival of each vegetative and animal life form; His direct, detailed involvement in every aspect of the life of each individual in the species, however, is limited to human beings.

The Ba’al Shem Tov, on the other hand, taught that all the myriad events constantly happening in our world are Divinely executed, in essence forming the ultimate choreographed ballet of existence. Every leaf turning in the wind, taught the Ba’al Shem Tov, is doing so by design; it may very well be on its way to a specific location to provide shade for a lowly worm.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi cited the following passage from the Talmud in support of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s thesis: “When Rabbi Yochanan saw a cormorant, he exclaimed addressing G-d by quoting the following verse from the Psalms26: ‘Your justice is carried out even in the depths of the sea.’ ”27 Rashi28 explains that Rabbi Yochanan was referring to how “G-d judges even the fish of the sea, arranging that the cormorant catch and devour those deserving punishment.” Thus, the Talmud states unequivocally that the specific fish the cormorant eats is Divinely chosen.

Homiletically, it is instructive to note that the Hebrew word for “nature” (טבע) is related to the verb “to submerge” (לטבוע), implying that the Divine vitality that is the true source of all life is concealed from our perception by (i.e., “submerged within”) the forces of nature that G-d set into effect. G-d’s intimate involvement in everything that takes place is hidden from us by the seemingly independent functioning of the laws of nature.

In this context, the hunting of the cormorant not only demonstrates G-d’s providence over all reality but also serves as an allegory for it. As it draws fish from the sea, the cormorant reminds us that our task in life is to reveal the Divine providence that is submerged within the ocean of nature.29



26.    Psalms 36:7

27.    Chulin 63a.
28.    Ad loc.
29.    Likutei Sichot, vol. 7, pp. 63-64.





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