Rebbe Nachman: The Wisdom of Animals

The Rebbe said that it takes both wisdom and great work to be like an animal.


The Rebbe said that it takes both wisdom and great work to be like an animal. This is the aspect of “Every wise-hearted person whom God gave wisdom to is an animal” (Exodus 36:1). This refers to the wisdom to conduct oneself like an animal. (Sichot Ha-Ran 16).

The Rebbe here is playing on the word “behema”. In the original verse it means “within them” (behema), but with a change in vowels is read “animal” (beheima). The original Hebrew is unvowelized, allowing for this type of edifying word-play (MG).

Sichot Ha-Ran than continues with a further gloss (by Rabbi Natan?):

[Our Sages comment on the verse, “God saves both human and animal” (Psalm 36:7). Our Sages say that this refers to “people who are wise and clever, and conduct themselves humbly like animals” (Chullin 5b). This is also the meaning of Asaf’s words, “I was a fool, I did not know, I was (humble) like an animal before You”.]

Author: Matthew Zachary Gindin

Freelance journalist and teacher. I write regularly for the Forward, All That In Interesting, and the Jewish Independent, and have been published in Religion Dispatches, Situate Magazine, Elephant Journal, and elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s