One of the more educational aspects of reading the Bible and the more challenging aspects when reading it to kids is the lack of censorship. The Commentators also had no qualm about tackling sensitive topics or issues that would be politically incorrect in our day.
According to Rabbi Chizkiya ben Manoach (Hizkuni) there are three species that naturally face each other in the act of procreation: Humans, fish and snakes.
Hizkuni comes to this startling conclusion by the simple fact that there are three different creatures in the Bible that are directly addressed by God. The snake is cursed by God for his ensnarement of Eve into partaking of the forbidden fruit. An unspecified Big Fish is given instructions by God to release the runaway prophet Jonah after having given him underwater sanctuary. Finally, Man is the primary audience of God’s word.
Hizkuni implies a parallel between the great honor of a creature having communicated directly with God (even if it was being told of its punishment) and that species being able to face its significant other during intimacy.
There is another related lesson we can extrude from the Hizkuni regarding the snake vis-à-vis the rest of the animal kingdom. Child psychologists have been saying for years that some children would prefer to be cursed and verbally abused by their parents than to be ignored (not that I’m recommending either act, of course). Cursing implies some type of attention, while ignoring or not even facing a child may give them the feeling of non-existence or at best non-importance (hence often engendering problematic attention-seeking behavior).
Was the snake like a petulant child seeking God’s attention?
By the way, if anyone can confirm or deny the animal physiology business, it would be interesting to have it verified.
May we know how to give the people in our lives the proper positive attention and may we be recipients of such attention ourselves.
To my children. They often give me the opportunity; if not outright force me, to see the world through their young and no less valid point of view.