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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Beraishis

The Kindness That is Birds and Fish

As we begin the Torah anew once again, we learn about the Six Days of Creation and many of the mystical intricacies therein. The Gemara in Shabbos tells us how a person born on each respective day of the week in imbued with a unique middah that was present in the creation that took place on that day. One born on Sunday has the attribute of leadership, because the first day led the week in both good (light) and evil (darkness). Similarly, the middah of Monday is ragzanus, frustration, because the rekiyah was split on that day. Let us discuss the middah of Thursday. One who is born on Thursday is naturally inclined toward the attribute of kindness. Rashi there offers the following explanation; the fish and the birds were created on this day. Birds and fish are two categories of species that Hashem afforded with their food supply always readily available. Birds can always fly to find food, and the larger fish eat smaller fish, which are always nearby. When one enters the world on a Thursday, he will be inclined toward this kindness that Hashem showed in creation. The Maharshah also understands the kindness of Thursday in a similar way; because fish and birds are commonly hunted and eaten, Hashem accelerated their rate of procreation to ensure that they would endure despite the large number of them that would be consumed. This was a unique aspect of creation which showed Hashem’s kindness toward His creations. The interesting thing about both of these explanations is that it emerges that the kindness evident on the Thursday of creation was only on account of the way Hashem set down the rules of His world - how these animals eat, or how they procreate - rather than being reflected in the actual creation itself. This would contrast the other middos mentioned in the Gemara, for the middos of the other days of the week are attributes reflected in Hashem’s actual Work of Creation. [For instance, when He split the rekiyah on Monday, the day was infused with the frustration born of conflict.] I would therefore like to suggest a third way to understand the kindness of Thursday. Birds and fish, created on Thursday, are a means of sustenance that is readily accessible to people who need food. Many stories are told of people who were lost or shipwrecked, and survived only by eating birds and fish. These animals were sent by Hashem to be available where they were needed. Hashem thus created a food that could be utilized wherever and whenever a person would require it; this was true kindness. As we know from Avraham Avinu, true chessed is when one feels the discomfort of others so acutely that he cannot bear it. Even when he was sick, and therefore was absolved of any obligation to help others, still, Avraham yearned to do chessed. This was because he was driven to alleviate the plight of others, even at the expense of his own needs! Birds and the fish reflect this ideal. They make themselves available to hungry people, even at the cost of their lives! With this new perspective of the Fifth day of creation, we have a great opportunity before us. Let us use every time we see a bird or a fish as a reminder of what true chessed is. These creatures represent the essence of kindness; to give everything you can to others. Hashem desires that we look out for one another, that we look to alleviate the pain someone else may be suffering. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

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