Monday, September 29, 2008
The Frog and the Scorpion
a quick thought on Yom Kippur
The frog could not sting, and the scorpion could not swim. So the frog took the scorpion on its back, at great personal sacrifice. After all, the scorpion could bite the frog at any moment. They crossed the river where the scorpion proceeded to fatally bite the man whom Hashem had condemned to death. (Nedarim 41a)
When King David completed the book of Psalms; the greatest song that any man has written to G-d, he began feeling very good about himself. He wondered to G-d, "Is there any creature that sings to You as beautifully as I do?" A frog appeared and told him, don't be too proud of yourself David, I sing a much greater song that you. And that is not all – there is a species that lives near the sea – and when it is hungry it takes mean and eats me. (Perek Shira)
What possessed Chanania Mishael and Azariah to throw themselves into the fiery furnace? They reasoned: If the frogs [during the plague of Frogs in Egypt] threw themselves into fiery furnaces despite the fact that they are not obligated to do so – we who have been commanded to give our lives for Kiddush Hashem must certainly do so! (Pesachim 53b)
The Frog sings, "Baruch Shem Kivod Malchuso Liolam Vaed," "Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity." (Perek Shira)
When Moshe went up to heaven, he heard the Angels reciting "Baruch Shem Kivod Malchuso Liolam Vaed," and taught it to the Jews, but we must say it quietly because it is angelic. On Yom Kippur when the Jew is nearly an angel, he can then recite it aloud. (Yalkut Shimoni D'varim 834)
The frog recites a song that even man cannot sing. David was shown an aspect of the frog that even man can often fall short of. What can this be? The world is a symphony. It is meant to consist of components all working harmoniously toward the ultimate goal of kvod shomayim. Every being is really no more than an ingredient in the grand scheme of G-d's will. The frog in Egypt gave his life for G-d's plan. The frog gives his life in the natural world to the animal that needs to eat him for survival. He transports scorpions on his back when G-d needs them to cross rivers.
The ultimate song is when one can find his place in the world, and live in perfect harmony, so that he knows how to give himself completely to the greater song of Hashem's plan. Sound, silence, and impeccable timing are vital for an orchestra to sound perfect. The frog is that animal that symbolizes that all is really here for nothing other than kvod shomayim. It is an animal that forgoes its immediate survival instinct and answers to a higher instinct.
The frog says "Baruch Shem Kivod Malchuso Liolam Vaed," which we cannot even say aloud. But the frog screams it out!
The frog was saying to David – "my entire existence is dedicated to the fulfillment of Hashem's will, even if it means complete self sacrifice. You were also created to be nothing more than a tool for kvod shomayim. Are you there yet?"
On Yom Kippur, when the Jewish people call out "Baruch Shem Kvod..." in booming voices, we are witnessing the elite of the human race striving to be nothing more than a "frog."