Thursday, July 20, 2023

Snakes as servants

  Sanhedrin (59b) Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says: Woe over a great attendant that has been lost to the world; as had the snake not been cursed that it should go on its belly, there would have been two fine snakes at the disposal of each and every one of the Jewish people. One he would send to the north, and the other one he would send to the south, to bring him precious sandalbonim, a type of precious stone, and other precious stones and pearls. Moreover, he would attach a strap under his snake’s tail like a harness to an animal, and use it to take dirt out to his garden and to rebuild his ruin, as he does with other animals. This demonstrates that the snake was capable of performing labor. 

Avos DeRabbi Nosson (01:07) Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said: It is a pity that a great helper was lost from the world. For if the snake had not been cursed, everyone in Israel [i.e., the Jewish people] would have two snakes in his house. One would be sent out to the west, and one would be sent out to the east, and they would bring back gems and precious stones and pearls and every precious thing in the world. And no creature could harm them. And not only that, but they could put them underneath a camel, or a donkey, or a mule, and they would gather the dung and bring it to gardens and orchards [for fertilizer].

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