Monday, July 22, 2013

So Big!

On Friday, after the hyena encounter, I went to meet some elephants. As with the hyena, the goal was to film a clip for my documentary. In this case, I would be speaking about the wonder of elephants, and the blessing that is pronounced on them - Baruch meshaneh habriyos.

Now, I've seen elephants plenty of times before. I've fed them, hugged them, and ridden on them. So I was expecting that I would have to artificially put on an expression of wonder.

But that wasn't necessary. Having an African elephant right next to me, towering above me, was such an awe-inspiring experience that I burst into the berachah spontaneously, with immense emotion. Pictures absolutely do not do this justice, but here are some anyway:


NOTE: This was, of course, a trained elephant. One would never, ever, ever do this with a wild elephant, such as those that I hope to see tomorrow! (Even what I did had its dangers; the trainers were constantly assessing the elephants' mood and instructing me accordingly - where to stand, when to move, etc.)

(Additional note to those emailing me - please be aware that while I am traveling, it is very hard for me to keep up with emails.)


  1. When you get back you need to do a post on what is considered reasonable risk-taking according to Judaism. :)

    I was inspired upon reading of your spiritual outburst.

  2. Elephants are my favorite animals. In so many ways they are wondrous, from their size and strength to their intelligence, to their amazing trunks, to their close family bonds.

    I have always wondered why the garment on a sefer Torah has two lions on either side. I would have put elephants instead; they are much more noble creatures than lions.

  3. NOTE: This was, of course, a trained elephant.

    As I was reading, I was thinking: that can't be safe!

  4. Remember not to startle the elephants. They might jump.

  5. There's a limited number of animals I would never eat for humanitarian (so to speak) reasons, even if kashrut wasn't an issue. Elephants are among them. (Primates and marine mammals would be others. Interestingly, these are the animals Chazal seem to feel are closest to humans.)

  6. ha razieli

    I think I once saw quoted the chazon ish in sefer (maakah ?)that reasonable risk-taking is what society considers normal.

    as society has a subjective view on this, depending on the circumstances you many not be able to get a statistical answer

  7. Since when do you wear a black kippah?

  8. Since always. But as of a few years ago, it's knitted, not velvet!

    (Amazingly, I'm writing this comment from a cabin in the heart of the African savannah!)

  9. Are you spending any time in dense, jungle-like habitats? If yes please post pictures.

  10. Are the natives friendly?

  11. Thank you so much for this post, Rabbi Slifkin! I love the photos. You must have a fine aura of peace about you.


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