Question:

Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

I have a different perspective on your statement:

Animals do not gaze at the stars, and angels are confined to the realm of the spirit, but Man is G‑d’s bridge between heaven and earth.

Our bodies are formed from the dust; our souls are of the essence of G‑d. We alone can look at a physical world and see spiritual life and beauty. We who are beyond both heaven and earth, form and matter, spirit and body—we alone can fuse the two.

This concept has blinded humanity and institutionalized speciesism since Descartes.

As founder and president of an animal-rescue organization for the past 30 years, I can say with certainty that animals who we take in and house in the green world, after generations in abominable research laboratories, spend days looking up at the sky in amazement.

There are many, many people confined to the realm of the material world. Most of the animals we have rescued have the deepest connection to the spiritual world in the most profound, authentic way imaginable. We have felt closer to G‑d in their presence than with the inhumane researchers who have tortured them.

The Earth is round, and we are one with all of the Creator’s Beings.

It is really past time to let go of the species-centric belief that “we alone can look at a physical world and see spiritual life and beauty.” I have to say, with all respect, that this is not true.

Answer:

I’m glad we can share perspectives with tolerance and understanding. One thing I think we will certainly agree upon: If this planet Earth were a garden, and we saw these humans running around wreaking the havoc they do, we would run off to the garden store immediately to find a way to eliminate the pest!

Fortunately, the Creator is more patient. There must be some redeeming quality He sees in us.

I hope you will have the patience to let me share a teaching of one of the Italian Kabbalists of the 16th century, Yehuda Moscato:

Perek Shirah, an ancient midrashic text, describes the song each creature sings to its Creator. It ends with the story of a frog who boasts to King David that its song is more beautiful than anything he can compose.

What are these songs? Who composed them? The Kabbalists explain that each animal receives its life through the channel of a spiritual being. The song is that of the spiritual being appointed over each species. In its melody is contained all the movements and activities, hoots, whistles, barks and roars of each animal that is connected to that being.

Every created being is alive—even the rocks, the sand, the water and the air. Each has its song, and together they compose a magnificent symphony.

The human being, wrote Moscato, is the creature that plays all parts as one, just as the soloist of a symphony concerto plays the theme melody. And as he or she plays, so the orchestra of all living things plays back to him or her. To one who plays out of key, the universe plays back in acrimony. To one who plays in harmony, they play back in sweet and heavenly form.

Yes, we are of the earth, another of G‑d’s creatures belonging to this biosphere. Yet we are also the radical element, the one that has the power to bring devastation far beyond the means of any other creature. Just as we have the power to destroy, even more so we have the power to restore, to heal and to sublimate our entire world. That is our redeeming quality—a kind of spirituality that rests only in us: the capacity to see healing where illness lies, and to take action to realize that healing. It is being played out today by people such as yourself. Thank you.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Chabad.org—Rabbis That Care