Friday, October 31, 2014

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

While the Torah tells us that God cursed the descendants of Eve with a natural hatred for snakes, there is no innate reason for people to fear spiders...and yet we do. Big or small, male or female, a great number of people appear to hate the very appearance of a spider. This discomfort pervades so far as to include not only the spiders themselves, but the webs they weave as well. (Thus the use of spider-webs in Halloween decor.)

The benefits of spiders, particularly their appetite for pesky bugs, may be known, but when a spider crosses the floor people are quick to recoil and run.

Even King David seemed to feel some level of antipathy toward spiders. There is a beautiful Midrash, however, that reveals how the first King of Israel learned to appreciate arachnids.

Master of the Universe,” said David, “what benefit do You have from...the spider, who spins all year long but whose product is unwearable?...The Holy One Blessed is He, replied, “There will come a time when you will need them.” When [David] was hiding from Saul in a cave, the Holy One, Blessed is He, sent a spider to spin a web across the entrance. Saul came, saw [the web] and thought, “Surely no man has entered here (Midrash Aleph Beis d’Ben Sira, Otzar HaMidrashim 47).

This Midrash has an eternal message. One should never doubt the Divine plan of creation, and all creatures on earth have a reason and a purpose - even Itsy Bitsy Spiders.

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