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Yom Ha'atzmaut

Let us demonstrate the difference between man and beast by recognizing God’s role in the State of Israel as well as in everything we do.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

You have probably been led to believe that mankind is superior to animals. I’m not so certain that is true, as Scripture seems to say otherwise.

For example, in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, it says, “Man has no advantage over animals,” and in Psalms, chapter 36, it says “God saves both man and beast.” And in this week’s Torah portion, Emor (Leviticus 21:1–24:23), it says that a newborn ox, sheep, or goat must remain with its mother for seven days, and from the eighth day onward it may be brought as an offering to God.

This latter passage sounds eerily similar to the requirement of circumcision for a human male on the eighth day after birth (Genesis 17:12).

Let’s take a look at the Hebrew word for animal, “Beheima,” and the word for mankind, “Adam.” The word “Beheima” can be seen as a combination of two words – “Bah” and “Mah” – which, with poetic license, can be translated as “what you see is what you get.”

An animal is an animal. There will be no surprises. It will not speak nor make any scientific discoveries. There is no hidden potential, there are no developments that come with age. Graze, eat, release. Graze, eat, release. That will be its entire life. No surprises there.

The word “Adam,” on the other hand, means “earth.” Earth symbolizes potential. When a seed is planted, the results are not immediately evident. You need to be patient. Eventually, however, after much time and effort, one can see results.

So it is with mankind. Man is imbued with superior cognitive, artistic, social and sensory intelligence. Man has the ability to go past his perceived limitations and exercise his free will. Man has the perception to acknowledge his Creator, while animals cannot.

As we remember our soldiers on YomHazikaron and celebrate Israel’s Independence Day on Yom Ha’atzmaut, let us remember not only the contributions of mankind in the creation and defense of the state, but also God’s role in the process. The absolutely miraculous accomplishments of the State of Israel have no earthly explanation; they are clearly the work of God.

Let us demonstrate the difference between man and beast by recognizing God’s role in the State of Israel as well as in everything we do. It is this sense of acknowledgment and appreciation – perhaps exclusively – which separates us from the animals.