Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Teves 5759, December 22, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Of BUGs and WEBs
by Rosally Saltsman

I know that there's an inyan about getting rid of spider webs before Shabbos. Well, I can't do it. Not because of my usual lack of housekeeping priorities, but because spiders live there. I see an invisible sign that says, "Baby spiders on board." And I just can't do it. It's not that I've never killed a bug. When the cockroaches get too numerous to count, I go after them, though I try not to hurt the babies, because in the syntax of the English language, 'baby' comes before 'cockroach'.

Yes, I eat meat (up to the finest standards, certainly), but the cow isn't grazing in my living room.

One day, a spider which had taken up residence in my residence had baby spiders. It was very moving. They were almost microscopic. It was truly a religious experience. I would invite guests over to the web to view first hand the wonders of Hashem. Okay, maybe tzaar baalei chaim doesn't extend to the insect inhabitants of your own domicile, but I've seen kids step on ants and keep score. I try not to destroy what I can't create (except that as a writer, destroying trees is an occupational hazard). I think that respecting the right to life of G-d's most minute creations brings us closer to Him. I've never had a midrash written about me, and there are spiders and bees who have.

We are part of G-d's Creation, but we were here last. One interpretation of this is that we are superior to all other life forms and they are here to serve us. There is another interpretation, however, that since we came last, we must respect all that has come before us: plants, trees, animals and even bugs. Nature is here for our use, not our abuse. If we respect the rights of even the smallest members of Creation, we will be able to be more considerate of members of our own species.

[There was a chassidic Rebbe who once took a walk with his son. The son absentmindedly plucked a leaf and began rolling it between his fingers, at which his father became very upset. Leaves are there for a purpose, each one, teaches Chassidus.]

All this doesn't mean I'll never exterminate if I have to, or aim a spray can at a bug. It does mean that I believe every living thing has a right to quality of life, even if it's minute.


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