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FRUMToronto Articles Thoughts for the Week

Inspirational words of Torah from Gedolei Yisroel.

Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Working on Our Middos; Cruelty to Animals

Chazal (Sanhedrin 90A) teach that four distinguished "Hedyotos"--important personages (as opposed to kings) have no chelek, no portion, in Olam Haba. One of them is the wicked Bila’am, whose character is recorded for posterity in this week’s Parsha. HaRav Chaim Kanievski, Shlita, notes that the common denominator among all of the four Hedyotos (the other three are Doeg, Achisofel and Gechazi) is that their Middos were nefarious. What an essential lesson in the importance of simple Middos Tovos. One can be the top prophet of the gentiles, one can be on the Sanhedrin, one can be the teacher of Dovid HaMelech, one can be the confidant of a King or Navi...but if one doesn’t work on his Middos--not only does he miss out on enjoying Olam HaZeh--he has no Olam Haba either! Improvement in Middos requires effort, concentration and dedication. Each one of us knows the areas in which his Middos are good, and those which need improvement. There are many Mussar Seforim dedicated to the improvement of one Middah at a time, perhaps the most preeminent being Orchos Tzaddikim and Ma’alos HaMiddos. The summer is a great, defined time to grow in a defined area--use the opportunity for your own unique growth wisely and well!


Special Note: HaRav Chaim Kanievski also reports that he asked his Rebbe, the Chazon Ish, what the source in the Torah would be for the proscription against Tzaar Baalei Chaim--prohibiting the infliction of pain upon other live creations of Hashem. Although others may bring other Torah sources, the Chazon Ish taught that it was from this week’s Parsha, in which the donkey castigated Bila’am, "What have I done to you that you struck me three times?" We derive from here that Bila’am had no right to hit the donkey without justification. His weak response to the donkey, "For you mocked me" underscores his lack of a defense to the claim. It is significant that the Torah teaches us this lesson through a donkey, which is generally not held in high regard by the more "sophisticated" elements of mankind. We must seriously consider how we treat other creatures. Even insects or rodents which may bother or hurt a person should not be abused. Many Poskim, for example, rule that one should not use sticky or glue paper to catch and exterminate them, because it causes undue tzaar. Likewise, we should appreciate and understand that we need not kill every ant, caterpillar or praying mantis that finds its way into our home. What is so wrong in showing your regard and value for Hashem’s creatures by capturing--not killing--one that you find in your home (in a plastic cup, for instance) and bringing them out to their natural habitat? One need not slap his hands wildly together at the sighting of every mosquito, or bring out the Raid because of a noisy fly. It would be especially nice if you could make it a point of showing this to children, who do not yet fully appreciate the value of life breathed in to any creature. Indeed, on Shabbos if one kills or takes blood out of the smallest of animals, he is Chayav, he is responsible for the Melacha of Netilas Neshama in just exactly the same way as if he killed a human being--and even the greatest among them. Especially in the summer months, when we encounter more creatures of all kinds inside and out, we should take note of a role that we have inherited from Odom HaRishon who named all creatures, and Noach who preserved them in the Taiva, and do our own personal part in demonstrating our commitment to the words of Dovid HaMelech which we recite three times daily in Ashrei (Tehillim 145:9) "VeRacahmav Al Kol Ma’asov--His mercies [and his love] are on all His works!"

Posted 7/4/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)

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