The Song of the Parrot

"Give thanks to the Compassionate One with a harp, with a ten-stringed lyre make music to Him." (Psalm 33:2)

Dear Friends,

According to Perek Shirah, the above verse is sung by the "agur" - a bird noted for its song. Some commentators say the "agur" is the parrot, and some commentators say that the "agur" is the crane. Birds, in general, are known for their song; however, both the parrot and the crane have developed a unique style of their own. As Rabbi Nosson Slifkin writes in "Nature's Song":

"Parrots, as everyone knows, actually learn new sounds. They can impersonate other birds and animals, whistle tunes, and even mimic human words and sentences. They take their talent and exercise its potential to the full."

Parrots have their own song; yet, they have the special ability to include the sounds of other songs within their song. Rabbi Slifkin reminds us that the song of the cranes is also special, as besides having a long and convoluted trachea that enables them to emit extraordinary deep cries, they perform an astonishing dance to which they spread their wings and leap in the air. In addition, they clatter the upper and lower parts of their long beaks together like a "maraca" - a rhythm instrument.

The "agur" sings: "Give thanks to the Compassionate One with a harp, with a ten-stringed lyre make music to Him." On a deeper level, the song of the "agur" is calling upon each us to play our own "harp" and to compose our own "music" for the Compassionate One. In fact, the Art Scroll commentary on Psalms states that, kabbalistically, the harp symbolizes the soul (Eretz HaChaim and Zera Yaakov). Each soul is unique, and each soul therefore has a unique song within the symphony of creation. Hashem - the Compassionate One - desires that each of us sing the song of our soul, and as we explained in our introduction to Perek Shirah, the "song" of any creature can be understood as its unique role within the creation. In this spirit, a Chassidic Rebbe, known as Reb Zusia of Annipoli, taught:

"Our Sages have said, 'Just as their faces are different, so too are their thoughts different.' There exist on earth millions of people, and they all have the same basic features on their faces: two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Nonetheless, no two people look alike. Similarly, if the outward appearances of people are so diverse, then how great must be the differences in their inner workings, the qualities of their souls, and their natures. If the beauty of the soul in all humans was identical, then why would Hashem need to create so many millions of people, where each one is no different from the next? However, the secret is this: Each person is sent down to this world in order to fulfill a specific Divine task, to carry out on earth a lofty, heavenly purpose. This is the mission of human beings on earth; moreover, for as many people as Hashem sends down to earth, He has just as many different tasks and purposes. The work of one person is totally independent of the task of any other person, and each one must carry through and complete his given purpose. Therefore, Hashem endows each person with unique talents and attributes necessary for him to fulfill his task. These talents cry out within each person, demanding to be expressed and to fulfill the mission for which they were sent to this world." (Hamodia, Cheshvan 10, 5759)

There are periods when we may be faced with difficult life-challenges which seem to prevent us from fully developing our own unique song. In such a situation, we can pray the following words of King David: "Hear, Hashem, and favor me, Hashem, be my Helper!..So that my soul might sing to You and not be stilled" (Psalm 30:11,13).

Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

1. Before he passed away, Reb Zusia spoke to his disciples, and he said that if Hashem will ask him, "Zusia, why weren't you like Moshe?", he will respond, "Hashem, You didn't give me the potential you gave to Moshe." But if he asks me, "Zusia, why weren't you like Zusia?" - then I will have cause to worry!

2. "Nature's Song" cites the following Midrash: It is written, "Honor Hashem with your possessions" (Proverbs 3:0) This can refer to your voice. If you possess a beautiful voice, and you are sitting in the synagogue, stand and honor Hashem with your voice (Pesikta Rabbasi Rabbah 25).

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