In this week’s Torah portion, parshas Noach, Hashem tells Noach to build an ark and bring two of every non-kosher animal and seven of every kosher animal into the ark. It begins to rain and Noach sets sail with the mission to resettle the Earth. A thought comes to mind, one that has me scratching my head in bewilderment. I can understand having the animals in pairs, after all we want them to be able to repopulate. What would the world be like without the elegant giraffe, brave lion, or cute little penguins?
But there is an animal or two that I think the world could do without. Like the skunk, rats, scary looking spiders, and of course mosquitoes. Let’s focus on the mosquito for a moment. It makes an annoying buzzing sound which can drive a person mad. It's virtually impossible to chase out of one's home. And, to top it off, it leaves its victims with an itchy bump when it bites. As hard as one tries not to scratch, this rarely works, and the more one scratches the itchier it gets.
If the world was beginning a new following the flood, why not get rid of all the not-so-great creatures, and only keep the beautiful ones? That’s what I would do. I did some research and it even turns out that some scientific authorities argue that mosquitoes are amongst the most dangerous animals on Earth. So why perpetuate their existence?
The reason is actually quite simple: every aspect of creation brings value and meaning to our existence. After a month of non-stop insight and inspiration, we have two choices; to let all the motivation slowly slip away, or to use it to propel us forward into the year making the most of each and every day. Maximizing every moment requires that we recognize challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than a time to complain.
Sure, mosquitoes are annoying, itchy, scratchy, and an all around nuisance. But, we can also learn a very important lesson from these pesky little creatures. They teach us that when we only take from others, from life, from Hashem, and neglect to give of ourselves, we are negating a special quality of our existence. Hashem has bestowed unique characteristics, talents, and gifts in each of us, and it is our responsibility to use them to reach our potential and make a difference in the world.
If it were up to me, perhaps I would have left the mosquito behind, and thus saved everyone money on antihistamines. But then maybe we risk not learning an important lesson from even the smallest of creatures. Perhaps we ourselves would be more likely to be takers rather than givers, leaving our world just a little bit dimmer.
I may not be happy about getting all bitten up from time to time, and having my relation disturbed; but it does serve as a healthy reminder to give all that I can. And when we give what we have, we infuse ourselves and others with strength, and we make the world a brighter place.