"How great are Your works, O Compassionate One, exceedingly profound are Your Thoughts." (Psalm 92:6)
The Song of the Elephant is found within the Psalm for the Shabbos Day. This may be the reason why some Jewish communities in Asia and Africa have a custom to invite an elephant for the Shabbos meal. (Just kidding!)
One does not need to have an elephant as a Shabbos guest in order to appreciate the words of the elephant's song: "How Great are Your works, O Compassionate One, exceedingly profound are Your Thoughts." The very existence of the elephant should inspire us to say these words. In this spirit, the following blessing is made upon seeing unusual creatures, such as the elephant: "Blessed are You, Hashem, Our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who makes unusual creatures" (Talmud, Brochos 58b). The following comments from "Nature's Song" can help us to appreciate the unique nature of the elephant:
1. It is by far the largest land animal, weighing up to seven tons and standing up to twelve feel tall at the shoulder.
2. For such enormous creatures, elephants are astonishingly agile, capable of balancing on one foot alone!
3. The elephant's trunk, which contains no bone but 100,000 muscles, is a remarkable too. Strong enough to lift great weights, it is simultaneously delicate enough to pluck a blade of grass.
4. It can suck up many gallons of water with its trunk. This is not only used for a shower; elephants have been known to extinguish fires.
5. Elephants frequently eat entire trees – leaves, branches and trunk!
6. The ivory tusks of an elephant are remarkable structures, measuring up to seven feet long.
7. Elephants communicate to each other by means of infrasound, far below the frequencies that humans can detect without equipment.
8. Elephants are highly intelligent animals and display a wide range of emotions.
They also contribute to the environment in which they live, and the following are some examples:
1. By pulling down trees to eat leaves, breaking branches, and pulling out roots they create clearings in which new young trees and other vegetation grow to provide future nutrition for elephants and other organisms.
2. Elephants make pathways through the environment that are used by other animals to access areas normally out of reach. The pathways have been used by several generations of elephants.
3. During the dry season elephants use their tusks to dig into dry river beds to reach underground sources of water. These newly dug water holes may become the only source of water in the area.
All of the above information should inspire us to join the elephant in singing, "How great are Your works, O Compassionate One, exceedingly profound are Your Thoughts."
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)
1. The following story is about an elephant in India that was being used for a certain project: The elephant was following a truck and, upon command, was pulling logs out of the truck to place in pre-dug holes in preparation for a ceremony. The elephant continued to follow the driver's commands until they reached one hole where the elephant would not lower the log into the hole but held it in mid-air above the hole. When the driver approached the hole to investigate, he found a dog sleeping at the bottom; only after chasing the dog away would the elephant lower the post into the hole.
2. For further information on "Nature's Song" by Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, visit: www.feldheim.com .