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Sunday, February 25, 2024 - 16 Adar I 5784
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Children's Corner
"What is the big book that's bulging out of your school bag?" Shlomie's mother asked him as he came home from school.

"It's called The World of Birds," replied Shlomie. "I took it out of the school's English library." 

"Do you have a science project?" his mother asked.

"No, a parshah project," chuckled Shlomie. "Actually, it's not homework at all. I just wanted to look up some of the birds that are mentioned in this week's parshah. Our teacher told us that the Torah lists the names of the non-kosher birds, but we don't know exactly which birds these are. That's why the only birds we eat are the ones that our tradition tells us are kosher. I just want to see how many birds I can recognize by their name in the parshah."

Shlomie's mother smiled. Ever since he was a little boy, Shlomie had been fascinated by birds. "It's a more educational hobby than Moishie's marble collection," she thought to herself.

Later, at dinner, Shlomie's father asked, "Nu, so how many birds were you able to find?"

"I found quite a few, Tatty," replied Shlomie. "I would have liked to be able to identify more."

"In the past, many people were able to identify the non-kosher birds mentioned in Parshas Shemini," said Shlomie's father. "Even if we can't identify these birds any longer, we can learn lessons from their names. For example, the Torah mentions the shalach."

"Oh! I know that one," Shlomie exclaimed. "That's the cormorant. It catches fish like a pelican."

Shlomie's father continued: "The Talmud tells us that when Rabbi Yochanan saw a shalach, he said: Mishpatechah t'hom rabah - 'HaShem's judgments reach even the depths of the ocean.' Rashi explains that Rabbi Yochanan was teaching us that the shalach doesn't just catch any fish. It picks the exact fish that are meant to be eaten by it.

"This shows that HaShem has a plan for even the tiniest fish in the huge ocean. Everything happens exactly the way HaShem plans it to be."

"You mean there's hashgachah protis even for the fish?" asked Shlomie in surprise. "I thought it was only for people!"

"This is the lesson we learn from the shalach. The fish are underneath the water. We cannot see them. Just like the water covers everything that is in it, nature covers up the way HaShem rules the world. It seems as if many things in this world happen by themselves, but that's not so. The truth is that everything, even the fluttering of a leaf in the wind, is controlled by hashgachah protis. When we see a shalach catch a fish, we have to realize that this did not happen by chance; HaShem planned it, down to the last detail."

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, pgs. 63-64)


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