22 June 2018

On the value of the cow...and R' Sprecher's shiur on Parashath Hukat

9 Tammuz 5778

in honor of my wedding anniversary (Hebrew) and my sister's birthday (secular), which were both yesterday...

There are many reasons why one of the Jewish People's greatest sins (but by no means the greatest) is called Het haEgel חטא העגל, Sin of the Golden Calf. The Red Heifer, Parah Adumah פרה אדומה, is said to be the repair of this sin, as in, the mother cow comes in and cleans up her baby calf's mess. (The Temple Institute is still working on getting our 10th Parah Adumah.) Other than that, we don't fully understand the commandment of the Red Heifer.

Here's more on that: "A Strange Commandment" (may this be for the merit of its author, who passed away shortly after giving birth to her 10th child...); also from My Jewish Learning and Eretz Hemdah.

The cow is perhaps the most valuable creature on the face of this earth! Why do you think that, in English, we have an expression for anything that is a consistent source of a large amount of money compared to what was invested: cash cow?

Bulls are good for two things: being the other half of producing more cattle, and their meat and hides (and maybe other products) when slaughtered. So I wonder why the male calf gives the sin its name, rather than the female (the feminine of "calf" in Hebrew is eglah עגלה). After all, the Wikipedia link above confirms that the term cash cow refers to the dairy cow, the female of the species that remains alive to continually provide for our (as well as her baby's) welfare. Feed her, give her space and a herd to enjoy it with, protection in the winter, and let her get pregnant every year, and you get a lot back for it. (The factory farms and those who use a lot of artificial insemination and feeding their cows foods they are ordinarily unaccustomed to are not the model to think of. They invest a lot, so their return-on-investment isn't as great - also considering that many people think their methods are abusive to the animals. I am thinking here of the homestead — the family farm and animals associated with it - which I'd like to see more of in Israel.)

Cattle in general are so valuable in so many ways for so many things in this world that it makes sense that the story of one of our biggest sins has to do with them. However, they are creations just as we are, and so is money and everything material; we have no reason to try to appeal to them to bring us only what their, and our, Creator, can and will, if we ask Him, and do what He asks of us.

 A tiny sampling about cows, farms and homesteading:

Keeping a Family Cow (cow section) | Domestic Felicity | Dairy Moos | Facts About Cows (Google search) | Howell, NJ Parah Adumah (Red Cow): P'sulah!
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R' Sprecher: Parashath Huqat



1 comment:

CDG, Yerushalayim, E"Y Shlemah said...

Another question: Is there such thing as a TRUE vegan? Take a look at all the products people regularly make from slaughtered cows!

(h/t to Dairy Moos)

And I'll add to that, just in case you came up with plastic as the answer: as we all know, plastics are made from petroleum; and see how petroleum is formed.

Now, tell me you're going to be able to separate the animal from the plant in the plastic...right? Not if you contemplate your computer or even a disposable plastic cup.

Let's see, what else: wood burns and only a certain part of tree bark is edible (Can you imagine if everybody ate it, though. We'd never have forests again. And would the eating of vegetation be forbidden as a result of something like this?). I recently saw an ad turning back to glass containers as an ecological alternative to plastic because it turns out that we're polluting the earth even worse with plastic than before...where does it end?

So far, if you are a vegan - which means you don't use animal products at all, much less eat them - you're out of luck.