The Patience of a Sheep

Mar 29th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, Portion of the Week
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and


I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of

owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of

years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

”Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

It was clear to them that God could take them out of Egypt in an instant, but for some reason, He had chosen to take His time. The Plagues had already lasted more than six months. Six months of no work. Six months of no abuse. Six months of self respect. Six months of not knowing what was next. They were becoming impatient.

Finally, Moshe summoned them, and began to speak. It was his first speech to them since they stormed away from him after his first meeting with Pharaoh and things got worse. He had tried to speak, but the people were too exhausted from their increased work load to even listen to him. Things were different now. They were willing to listen. Most of all, they wanted to know what was next. They were impatient.

Moshe presented the laws of Passover and the Pesach Offering. He instructed them to take the animal on the Tenth day of the month and and wait until the 14th. Most understood that this simple act was a declaration of Spiritual war with the Egyptians who worshipped these animals as gods. The Children of Israel were going to fearlessly slaughter the Egyptian gods in front of their former masters, and the Egyptians were helpless to stop it.  People understood the point. Perhaps they even appreciated it, but, “five more days?” More waiting? They were impatient.

Except, that is, for one child staring out the window from morning till night at the sheep in its pen in front of the house. He couldn’t stop staring.

His parents were initially pleased. He was staying out of their way and, unusual for him, wasn’t causing any trouble. By the third day; they were concerned. Television would be better. Wii would be okay. But a sheep! How can someone stare at a sheep all day for three days?

“I love watching how peaceful they are,” he said in response to their question, “everyone  is nervous, agitated and impatient, but the sheep is perfectly content, placid and patient. I wish you guys could be like that even for just a few minutes!”

His parents joined him on the couch, staring out the window at the sheep. They felt themselves relax. The kid had a point.

Pesach is Pesach. The adults could not afford to sheep watch all day. They had to clean the house, prepare for the guests, and pack everything they wanted to take with them on their journey. Back to work it was! They were too busy to be impatient.

Pesach began. They offered their Pesach sacrifice. They rushed through the meal. They finished and began to hear the screams from the Egyptian neighborhoods. They were waiting. They were impatient again. That is, except for a little boy and his parents who had learned patience from the sheep in the yard.

Author Info:
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