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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

Condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:10

Symbiotic Relationship of Modesty

Why are the [sexual organs] of [sheep] covered, and those [of goats] are not covered. Those which we use to cover ourselves are covered; those which we do not use are uncovered.
Various RabbisTevet 5 5779
17
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Gemara: Why are the [sexual organs] of [sheep] covered, and those [of goats] are not covered. Those which we use to cover ourselves are covered; those which we do not use are uncovered.


Ein Ayah: The shepherd has the good fortune to be in a field, a place in which he can elevate his spiritual level. Hevel was a shepherd, and Hashem accepted his offering favorably (Bereishit 4:4). A shepherd should look at the material gain he receives from his flock and learn from it. The first thing he should notice is the moral insight related to the nature of these animals.

Sheep is the flock animal that is raised to use its hair for clothing, to cover one from his nakedness. It was blessed by its Maker with a covering over great parts of its own body, including a tail to cover its nakedness.

This teaches us that the goodness that one species provides for another comes back to help itself as well. All creations are interconnected, so that when there is a general improvement for the world, it benefits all beings. There is not war between living things, but rather an interrelationship of strength and peace.

Only those animals that are not used to cover us are not covered. Man’s honor does not allow one to dress himself in sackcloth, which is made from the hair of goats. The feeling of honor that a person has because of his higher soul also comes with a sign from the characteristic of the animal with which man embarks on his path toward material and spiritual acquisition. That is why sheep and goats are called ashterot, which hints at the fact that they enrich (ma’ashir) their owners (see Chulin 84b).



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