Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Why God created rodents.”

Commenting on the statement by Hillel the Elder in the Talmud, “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creatures and drawing them near to the Torah” Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

“Hillel the Elder is not observing that we must love the righteous, but ‘creatures.’

‘Creatures’ is a general term that refers to all beings, even the very lowest, of whom we can say nothing more positive than that they were created.

In this regard, the prophet Elijah was once asked why God created rodents and other crawling creatures.

He replied that when God looks at His world and sees the evil of human beings and wishes to destroy them, He considers those rodents as well and decides that — just as He allows them to exist — so will he allow such people to exist.

There are people whose only saving grace is that there are other creatures even lower than they.

It is of such people that Hillel the Elder tells us that it is a mitzvah to love them and bring them close to Torah.”
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From Understanding the Tanya, p.132, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz