Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
Condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:37

When Increased Strength Displays Constant Weakness

There are three animals that become more powerful when they get older: the fish, the snake, and the pig.

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Various Rabbis

Shvat 25 5779
Gemara: There are three animals that become more powerful when they get older: the fish, the snake, and the pig.



Ein Ayah: Advanced age adds shleimut (completeness) and spiritual illumination, which cause a person’s physical side to decline. Even though in the animal kingdom, the spiritual side is not as recognizable as it is for humans, there is an element of spirituality that is part of their being, out of which, in the future ideal times, they will also be elevated with the whole world.

In each of these areas, there is a species that has an extreme tendency in the direction of coarse physicality rather than spirituality. Fish have a strong tendency toward sexuality without any element of keeping a distance; snakes are symbols of pure evil, without any tendency toward justice; pigs are involved in a physicality of ugliness, which is the opposite of a beautiful spirituality. Therefore, these threes species have nothing that holds back their physical side from strengthening, as their lives consist of the physical side. In contrast, the human spirit strives to be more holy, just, and glorious. Therefore, in old age, the tendency toward removal from sexuality separates humans from such matters and weakens them, allowing them to have more advantages over animals. "Not with multitudes or with strength, but with the spirit of Hashem" (see Zecharia 4:6).
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