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Aug. 5, 2021

Bigger than a Rhino (Re'eh)

On a recent visit to the local Baltimore Zoo, there was one particular incident that stuck out to me. I was watching the gigantic rhinoceroses when a young girl standing nearby proclaimed: “Oh my gosh, the rhino is bigger than my father!”

The people in the vicinity all started laughing. I started crying. Okay fine, that’s a lie, I didn’t actually start crying, but it did strike a spiritual chord inside.

You see, to this little girl, her father was her everything. He was the “biggest” thing in her life. In her mind, nothing was bigger than her father. This visit to the zoo, however, put a damper on this little girl’s reality. There was something, after all, that was indeed bigger than her father. It was none other than a rhino.

I know this may sound strange, but this incident at the zoo gave me a whole new appreciation for being an Orthodox Jew. One of the cornerstone principles of Judaism is having faith and belief in G-d. We pray to Him, we learn His Torah, and we follow in His ways. And you know what makes G-d so unique? He is the biggest Father of them all. There is no father as big Hashem. As a matter of fact, there is nothing as big as Hashem. Chazal refer to Hashem as אין סוף – no end.

The mere fact that we – small humans of flesh and blood – can connect to Hashem is absolutely mindboggling. It is humbling, yet exhilarating. Believing in Hashem is so important and fundamental because we are placing our lives in the hands of the most reliable Being that exists. This idea should comfort us. And yes, if you feel slightly warm and fuzzy inside, don’t ignore it; embrace that feeling. It should feel good to have a relationship with Hashem.

The Torah tells us: רְאֵ֗ה אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה – “See, I have placed before you today blessing and curse.” On some level, by using the term "אנכי", the Torah is linking itself back to the very first of the 10 Commandments: אנכי ה' אלקיך – “I am Hashem your G-d.” This is the commandment that teaches us about belief and faith in Hashem, after all, as the verse continues, He is the One who took us out of Egypt.

Life is full of ברכה וקללה, blessing and curse, טוב ורע, good and evil, אור וחשך, light and darkness. There are ups and downs. There are moments of clarity and moments of ambiguity. But the job of a Jew is ראה אנכי, to see and recall the first of the 10 Commandments. Hold on to the message of אנכי ה' אלקיך. Remain firm in your faith and belief in G-d Almighty.

Realize that He is the “biggest father of them all.” He can do everything. He literally took the Jewish people out of the most unescapable place on Planet Earth. He can help you get out of your state of “darkness” as well.

A rhino might be pretty big, but there is no question about it: Hashem is so much bigger. Let us be confident, proud, and comfortable to place our trust in Him and let the Big Daddy Upstairs run the show of life.


Have a holy Shabbos!