Weekly Torah Commentary — Yitro Feb. 10, 2012

Three months after the Exodus from Egypt, the Children of Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai. Hashem then spoke to Moshe to tell the children of Israel, ‘…you have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I have borne you on the wings of eagles and brought you to Me.’ Why the description ‘on wings of eagles’?

The eagle is an amazing creation of Hashem from which Israel was to learn some very valuable lessons — and so must we today.

1) The Eagle has NO FEAR of its enemy. Regardless of the size of the enemy or the weapon it holds, the eagle attacks forcefully with no concern about itself. Its instinct is to protect what it loves.

2) The Eagle is a tenacious creature. It will actually look for and fly into fierce storms. When smaller creatures run and hide themselves at an approaching storm, the eagle spreads its massive wings and soars above the storm’s winds to amazing heights. Eagles actually use the storms to lift themselves up. It is as if they recognize that storms are the tools for greater development. Need I say more?

3) The Eagle is a nurturing creature. One is hard pressed to find any other bird that is as attentive to and gentle with its young. As the baby eaglet grows to a certain stage of development, the mother eagle will carry it on her back, then suddenly swoop out from under it, forcing the eaglet to fly. If the baby eaglet falls instead of flying, the mother will swoop down under it and save it lest it injure itself but will then begin the process again. She will teach and train her young til they learn how to soar to the heights.

4) The Eagle teaches us the great value of a balanced life. It can soar as high as 10,000 ft. but also glide rapidly (up to 75 mph) down to earth to save its young or to obtain food. In other words, the eagle knows when to soar and when to be firmly planted on the earth. It can be comfortable in both areas.

5) The Eagle never eats dead meat. It is not a scavenger like the vulture. The eagle hunts and consumes its own food, urging us by implication to be seekers of Hashem’s ‘food’ — the Torah. While commentaries and spiritual books are a great blessing, they do not substitute for our personal meditation in the words of Torah to derive personal inspiration and understanding (our own food).

6) The Eagle has amazing vision, being able to see another eagle or an enemy from 50 miles away. It has tremendous clarity and long distance focus. It sees the bigger picture, not just what is immediately in front of it. How important for a successful life.

7) The Eagle has a tremendous power to endure and renew itself. When an eagle reaches the age of 30, his physical condition begins to deteriorate. This aging process causes his talons to lose flexibility, his beak to become dull and his wing feathers to lose their luster and become heavy.
However, the eagle does not become ‘depressed’ by this condition and resign himself to an early death. By no means! He will instead fly to an isolated mountain top and over a five month period, go through a complete renewal. He will knock off his own beak by beating it on the rocks, pluck out his own talons and then his feathers. Each stage of ‘pruning’ if you will, produces a brand new version of the removed body part and at the end of 5 months, the eagle goes on to live (re-born) for another 30-40 years. Is it any wonder that the prophet Isaiah wrote, “They that wait upon Hashem will renew their strength; their youth will be renewed like the eagles…”

The Children of Israel, then and now, need to learn well the lessons of the Eagle in order that we may fulfill our mission as Hashem’s chosen nation.

In Tune with Torah this week = meditating on the characteristics of the Eagle and resolving to correct any attitudes we may have let creep into our thinking that are inconsistent with the principles we learn from this amazing creation.

Shabbat Shalom

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