A Dove

(Torah Portion Bo) A Dove!

The eighth plague G-d brought upon the Egyptians, was a swarm of locusts so dense and thick that it darkened the Egyptian sky. The locusts then descended and for seven days covered the entire land of Egypt eating and consuming all the vegetation of Egypt.

The Torah when describing that the locusts descended on all the land uses the word – Vayanach – and they descended, the word Vayanach also means “they rested.”

Baal Haturim cites a Zohar – Kaballa that makes a remarkable connection. The Torah uses the same word Vayanach – and He rested – regarding G-d ‘resting’ on the seventh day – Shabbos. The Zohar tells us that the Torah is hinting to us that during the plague, the locusts rested on the day of Shabbos and didn’t consume vegetation from the land!

Why specifically during the plague of locusts was there a display of the sanctity of Shabbos? Possibly, since the plague of locusts was the only plague coming through a kosher species G-d specifically wanted the restful spirit of Shabbos to be displayed through the plague of locusts.

While we are on the subject of something phenomenal happening on the day of Shabbos, Migdal Oz explains that when the waters of the flood of Noach were receding, the Torah tells us that on the seventh day, Noach sent out a dove to see if the land was dry. Generally speaking, ‘the seventh day’ refers to the Shabbos. Noach sent the dove out on Shabbos and the Torah relates that the dove came back when it was already evening with an olive branch in its mouth.

Says the Migdal Oz, the Torah tells us that the dove waited until nightfall, because cutting off a branch from a living organism is an act that is forbidden on Shabbos and the dove waited until after nightfall, until the conclusion of Shabbos, to cut the branch and return to Noach. Remarkably, the dove instinctively revered our Shabbos law and did not detach a living organism from its source on the Shabbos, a marvel that continues on with the dove species.

The Talmud tells us that when G-d created the world He included certain indicators and displays in the environment that attest to the sanctity and restful spirit of the Shabbos. There is a river called Sambatyan which has an extremely choppy and violent current during the six days of week but each Shabbos it becomes extremely calm!

Another phenomenal indication of the sanctity of Shabbos was that the Manna did not appear on Shabbos during the years the Jews traveled in the desert.

Based on a verse in the Psalms 68:14, the Talmud derives that the Jewish people are compared to a dove. Just as a dove saves and protects itself with its wings, so too the Jewish people are saved and protected through the performance of the Mitzvos.

Rabbinau Bechaya – the great Kabbalist relates another phenomenon concerning doves. No matter where a dove is placed in the world it will find its way back to its nest. So too, at the time of the Moshiach, all Jews from all corners of the world, will ascend together in unison to the uncontested city of Jerusalem!

The association we have with the dove should motivate us to think that just as these special features of the dove are inborn and instinctive – so too, we, the Jewish people, have the inborn and natural composition to observe the laws of the Torah.

We, who have the freedom of choice, are presented with challenges which at times attempt to prevent us from choosing the proper path.

However, when we make the decision to do what’s right, we will receive G-d’s eternal reward for making the proper choice, and also feel a sense of personal accomplishment, gratification and elevation for doing so!

Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos, Rabbi Dovid Saks