'Why don't animals talk?'
I get questions from kids and they are just terrific -- both the kids and the questions. I received this question on a postcard from a little girl named C in the third grade in my synagogue:
"Why don't animals talk?"
Here is my answer for C. You might want to compare Genesis 1:29 where Adam is given just fruits and vegetables to eat in the Garden of Eden and then Genesis 9:3 where Noah is finally given grudging permission to eat meat for the first time. The delay in giving people the right to eat meat is confusing, unless we come to the conclusion that the Bible is actually given to us to teach us not just about right and wrong but also about wrong and right and even more right. Eating meat is OK with God, I am sure, but I am even more sure that if you can eat without causing some animal to suffer and die -- that is even more OK to God. The Bible has many levels of obedience to God and many levels of kindness to all living things that God has created.
This modern midrash (a story about a story in the Bible) is my holiday gift to all the children who have somehow kept alive their sense of curiosity and wonder and awe in a world that is often not at all curious, not at all wondrous and not in awe of anything.
The First Hamburger
By Marc Gellman
Once animals talked just like people. Once every living creature ate only grass and nuts and a few berries when they could find them. No living thing ever thought about killing another living thing to eat it, until the day Noah wanted a hamburger.
One night, Noah dreamed of a hamburger, and when he woke up, he wanted one real badly, but Noah wasn't exactly sure how to get a hamburger, so he asked his friend the cow, "I dreamed about a hamburger last night. Do you know how I can get one?"
The cow gave Noah a puzzled look and asked, "What's a hamburger?"