Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the holy goats of R' Chanina ben Dosa

The gemara (Ta’anic 25a) tells the story of certain goats owned by R’ Chanina ben Dosa which the neighbors complained were destroying property. R’ Chanina replied that if his goats were being destructive they should be eaten by wolves (girsa of Ain Ya’akov); if not, his goats should bring back two wolves in their horns. The next morning R’ Chanina’s goats were seen with wolves caught in their horns.

Goats spearing wolves is nothing short of miraculous. I think we can agree that it was not the tzidkus of the little goats that caused this miracle, but rather it was the tzidkus of R’ Chanina ben Dosa. Taking a step further back, it was not the tzidkus of the goats that gave R’ Chanina the confidence to say that they were not the cause of any property damage; rather, it was R’ Chanina’s own tzidkus.

The Ishbitza uses this gemara as the key to unlock the lesson of Parshas Mishpatim. The owner of the wild ox which gores, the person who fails to cover his pit, the person who does not control the fire he lights, is not only morally and legally responsible for damage done, but he is spiritually responsible to make amends as well. R’ Chanina was a tzadik; therefore, R’ Chanina’s goats were not destructive. QED that someone who does own goats which cause damage or an ox which gores is lacking in some measure of tzidkus. The concept of “ba’alus” is not just a legal construct, but has spiritual meaning as well, as all that comes into a person’s possession in some way connected to the root of their neshoma and will reflect the neshoma’s perfection or lack thereof.

1 comment:

  1. they outdo the famous chamor of R' Pinchas ben Yair.