In enumerating the types of animals that are permissible to be brought for a korban, the Torah (Vayikra 22:27) enumerates the ox, sheep and goat. The Midrash, (Medrash Rabba 22:5) explains that only these animals are suitable for being brought as a sacrifice because these animals do not prey on any other animal, and, as it says in Koheles (3:15), Hashem seeks out (and defends) the pursued.
In fact, as the Midrash discusses at length, Hashem always sides with the pursued, even when the pursuer is a Tzaddik (righteous) and the pursued is a Rasha(wicked)!! There is something about an individual or group or nation that is pursued by others that elicits an automatic reflexive defense mechanism, if you will, on Hashem’s part. When there is an imbalance in power, and the more powerful uses his power to press his advantage over the weaker person or group, Hashem rises to defend the victim, by repaying the powerful one for his misdeeds.
Throughout life we deal with imbalances between people. There’s a boss at work, and people with greater wealth, power and influence than me or that my group has. One of the reasons (according to the Midrash) that Hashem favors and protects the Jewish People, is precisely because we were falling prey to the more powerful and mightier nations seeking our destruction. It is neither our righteousness nor Yichus (genealogy) alone, that protects us.
Perhaps more than adults, children live in a world of great imbalances. There are the mighty adults who control practically everything in the child’s life. There are older siblings who exert great power over a younger sibling. There are older and bigger children in school. There are for many, classmates who are more successful academically, socially or on the ball field. It is only natural, specifically for those who are victims in one or more circumstances, to seek out relationships in which he or she is the stronger, bigger, smarter, or more capable one of the group.
The tendency to bully others, to exert power over another in any realm available to the particular child is very strong. External measures to curb such inappropriate behavior, is somewhat limited in their effectiveness if we don’t work on the internal world of the child. The realization that Hashem Himself is concerned for the victim, that He will always take the side of the persecuted and downtrodden, may help our children realize that it is Hashem’s will that they protect, rather than attack a weaker classmate. Parents can make an invaluable contribution to their children’s developing character, by encouraging emulating this Midda of Hashem – to always look out for and defend the well-being of the victim.
Best wishes for a Shabbos in tune with Hashem’s will,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann