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Jul 24, 2019

the owl of Bnei Braq

I have always been a big fans of zoos. I find the animals fascinating - how they look, how they interact, how they behave, everything. And I know I am not unusual in this. People are tremendously fascinated by the animal kingdom, between zoos and aquariums and wildlife documentaries and the like.

Generally zoos try to get new animals for a variety of reasons. Largely to be able to increase education to the viewing public. Also for more entertainment, and to be different, more unique, or better than other zoos in the area. 

The zoo in Bnei Braq does things differently.

There is a small zoo at the edge of the Ramat Elchonon neighborhood of Bnei Braq. According to Kikar, Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein, the rav of the neighborhood, had asked the people in charge and the mayor to try to bring an owl to the zoo. It took some time, but they finally were able to obtain an owl, and they have now installed it in its new home in the Bnei Braq zoo.

Why did Rav Zilbershtein want an owl in the zoo?

Rav Zilbershtein wanted an owl so he could say the bracha of "meshane habriyos" - the bracha upon seeing an unusual creature. The bracha is commonly made on a monkey, but according to many it can also be made when seeing an owl.

Yesterday, Rav Zilbershtein went with local schoolchildren to the zoo, along with the mayor, Avraham Rubinstein, and discussed the halachic issues. They then looked at the owl and Rav Zilbershtein led the group by saying the relatively rare bracha.

I like that reason. it puts things in perspective. We do things for good reasons - education, entertainment, curiosity, appreciating nature, and all sorts of reason. Another very good reason, maybe the best of all, is to be able to appreciate God's creations and recognizing His hand, and to serve God better.

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