Leadership and Animals Look at how they treat their animals; In honor of Parshat Parah
1א

(א) וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר יי אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ב) זֹ֚את חֻקַּ֣ת הַתּוֹרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יי לֵאמֹ֑ר דַּבֵּ֣ר ׀ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֣וּ אֵלֶיךָ֩ פָרָ֨ה אֲדֻמָּ֜ה תְּמִימָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֵֽין־בָּהּ֙ מ֔וּם אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹא־עָלָ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ עֹֽל׃ ...(ה) וְשָׂרַ֥ף אֶת־הַפָּרָ֖ה לְעֵינָ֑יו אֶת־עֹרָ֤הּ וְאֶת־בְּשָׂרָהּ֙ וְאֶת־דָּמָ֔הּ עַל־פִּרְשָׁ֖הּ יִשְׂרֹֽף׃...(ט) וְאָסַ֣ף ׀ אִ֣ישׁ טָה֗וֹר אֵ֚ת אֵ֣פֶר הַפָּרָ֔ה וְהִנִּ֛יחַ מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה בְּמָק֣וֹם טָה֑וֹר וְ֠הָיְתָה לַעֲדַ֨ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֧ל לְמִשְׁמֶ֛רֶת לְמֵ֥י נִדָּ֖ה חַטָּ֥את הִֽוא׃...(יד) זֹ֚את הַתּוֹרָ֔ה אָדָ֖ם כִּֽי־יָמ֣וּת בְּאֹ֑הֶל כָּל־הַבָּ֤א אֶל־הָאֹ֙הֶל֙ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר בָּאֹ֔הֶל יִטְמָ֖א שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִֽים׃ (טו) וְכֹל֙ כְּלִ֣י פָת֔וּחַ אֲשֶׁ֛ר אֵין־צָמִ֥יד פָּתִ֖יל עָלָ֑יו טָמֵ֖א הֽוּא׃... (יז) וְלָֽקְחוּ֙ לַטָּמֵ֔א מֵעֲפַ֖ר שְׂרֵפַ֣ת הַֽחַטָּ֑את וְנָתַ֥ן עָלָ֛יו מַ֥יִם חַיִּ֖ים אֶל־כֶּֽלִי׃

(1) God spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: (2) This is the ritual law that the Holy One has commanded: Instruct the Israelite people to bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid. ...(5) The cow shall be burned [completely]...(9) A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the cow and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, to be kept for water of purification/impurity for the Israelite community. It is for cleansing. ... (14) This is the ritual: When a person dies in a tent, whoever enters the tent and whoever is in the tent shall be unclean seven days; (15) and every open vessel, with no lid fastened down, shall be unclean. ...(17) Some of the ashes from the fire of cleansing shall be taken for the unclean person, and fresh water shall be added to them in a vessel.

2ב

A. בָּדַק לְדָוִד בַּצֹּאן וּמְצָאוֹ רוֹעֶה יָפֶה, ...אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, מִי שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ לִרְעוֹת הַצֹּאן אִישׁ לְפִי כֹחוֹ, יָבֹא וְיִרְעֶה בְּעַמִּי. הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (תהלים עח, עא): מֵאַחַר עָלוֹת הֱבִיאוֹ לִרְעוֹת בְּיַעֲקֹב עַמּוֹ.

B. וְאַף משֶׁה לֹא בְחָנוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶלָּא בַּצֹּאן, אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, כְּשֶׁהָיָה משֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם רוֹעֶה צֹאנוֹ שֶׁל יִתְרוֹ בַּמִּדְבָּר, בָּרַח מִמֶּנּוּ גְּדִי, וְרָץ אַחֲרָיו עַד שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַחֲסִית, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַחֲסִית, נִזְדַּמְּנָה לוֹ בְּרֵכָה שֶׁל מַיִם, וְעָמַד הַגְּדִי לִשְׁתּוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ משֶׁה אֶצְלוֹ, אָמַר אֲנִי לֹא הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁרָץ הָיִיתָ מִפְּנֵי צָמָא, עָיֵף אַתָּה, הִרְכִּיבוֹ עַל כְּתֵפוֹ וְהָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, יֵשׁ לְךָ רַחֲמִים לִנְהֹג צֹאנוֹ שֶׁל בָּשָׂר וָדָם כָּךְ חַיֶּיךָ אַתָּה תִרְעֶה צֹאנִי יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֱוֵי: וּמשֶׁה הָיָה רוֹעֶה.

A. [God] tested David regarding the ewe and found a good shepherd...the Holy One of Blessing said: "one who knows how to tend to ewes according to his/her ability will I make shepherd over My people. This is the meaning of the verse: "after tending to the nursing ewes, God brought him to tend to the people of Jacob" (Psalms 78:71).

B. Our teachers have said: Once, while Moses our Teacher was tending [his father-in-law] Yitro’s sheep, one of the sheep ran away. Moses ran after it until it reached a small, shaded place. There, the lamb came across a pool and began to drink.

As Moses approached the lamb, he said, “I did not know you ran away because you were thirsty. You are so exhausted!” He then put the lamb on his shoulders and carried him back. The Holy One said, “Since you tend the sheep of human beings with such overwhelming love - by your life, I swear you shall be the shepherd of My sheep, Israel.”

3ג

Guiding questions

Parts A & B

1. Parts A and B look awfully familiar. Why do you think the rabbis brought two such similar teachings?

2. Why specifically David and Moses? Who does David represent to you? Moses?

Part B

3. Why does Moses merit to the leader of the Israelites? What necessary qualities did he demonstrate with the lamb?

4. What makes someone a good leader? Why is this demonstrated here specifically with an animal and not a person?

All of Source #2

5. How might this teaching be relevant in our day?

4ד

מעשה באו וע"י מעשה הלכו ע"י מעשה באו מאי היא דההוא עגלא דהוו קא ממטו ליה לשחיטה אזל תליא לרישיה בכנפיה דרבי וקא בכי אמר ליה זיל לכך נוצרת אמרי הואיל ולא קא מרחם ליתו עליה יסורין וע"י מעשה הלכו יומא חד הוה קא כנשא אמתיה דרבי ביתא הוה שדיא בני כרכושתא וקא כנשא להו אמר לה שבקינהו כתיב (תהלים קמה, ט) ורחמיו על כל מעשיו אמרי הואיל ומרחם נרחם עליה

A. What was that incident that led to Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi's suffering? The Gemara answers that there was a certain calf that was being led to slaughter. The calf went and hung its head on the corner of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s garment and was weeping. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to it: Go, as you were created for this purpose. It was said in Heaven: Since he was not compassionate toward the calf, let afflictions come upon him.

B. The Gemara explains the statement: And left him due to another incident. One day, the maidservant of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was sweeping his house. There were young weasels lying about, and she was in the process of sweeping them out. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to her: Let them be, as it is written: “God is good to all; Whose compassion are over all God's creatures” (Psalms 145:9). They said: Since he was compassionate, we shall be compassionate on him, and he was relieved of his suffering.

5ה

Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi (Rabbi Judah the Prince) was the most significant rabbinic leader of his generation, editor of the first collection of rabbinic writings, the Mishnah (~200ce).

1. Give a title to parts A and B.

2. What do you think the rabbis are trying to teach us with Source #3? Do you agree? Why or Why not?

3. What does this source ad to our discussion?

6ו

חמשה דברים צוה ר"ע את רבי שמעון בן יוחי כשהיה חבוש בבית האסורין אמר לו רבי למדני תורה אמר איני מלמדך אמר לו אם אין אתה מלמדני אני אומר ליוחי אבא ומוסרך למלכות אמר לו בני יותר ממה שהעגל רוצה לינק פרה רוצה להניק אמר לו ומי בסכנה והלא עגל בסכנה אמר לו אם בקשת ליחנק היתלה באילן גדול וכשאתה מלמד את בנך למדהו בספר מוגה מאי היא אמר רבא ואיתימא רב משרשיא בחדתא שבשתא כיון דעל על

The Gemara continues to cite similar advice dispensed by Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva commanded Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai to do five matters when Rabbi Akiva was imprisoned. Beforehand, Rabbi Shimon said to him: Rabbi, teach me Torah. Rabbi Akiva said to him: I will not teach you, as it is dangerous to do so at the present time. Rabbi Shimon said to him in jest: If you will not teach me, I will tell Yoḥai my father, and he will turn you over to the government. In other words, I have no means of persuading you; you are already in prison. Rabbi Akiva said: My son, know that more than the calf wishes to suck, the cow wants to suckle. Rabbi Shimon said to him: And who is in danger? Isn’t the calf in danger? Rabbi Akiva said to him: If so, I will tell you a few matters. First of all, if you wish to strangle yourself, hang yourself on a tall tree. This proverb means that if one wants others to accept what he has to say, he should attribute his statement to a great man. And when you teach your son, teach him from a corrected text. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of that statement? Rava said, and some say Rav Mesharshiya said: Rabbi Akiva was referring to learning a new topic, for once a mistake enters one’s mind, it has entered there and is difficult to put right.

7ז

Source #4

1. We find a fresh use of the cow imagery. In this Talmudic lesson, three distinct images arise: the calf, the heifer, and the cow's milk. What does each one represent?

2. Does this new association of the cow impact our self-understanding? Why or why not?