May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

You read the title. If you need to take time to read it again, go ahead. This is the article where I discuss an animal that I’m sure at least one of you out there would find controversial to learn about. In fact, I imagine that there are a few people who are thinking of skipping this article due to having a fear and/or hatred towards snakes. I’ll just get to the life lesson and you can be on your way.

Don’t judge the individual by the majority, don’t judge the majority by the individual, and beware of those who do. There. Done. Now you can go on with your day, whatever that might entail. (I don’t really know what people who hate snakes do in their free time, but I’ve been told that it usually doesn’t include gnawing through bags of grain and contaminating the harvest of some poor farmer, as I had initially thought. Live and learn.) For those who are actually interested in how I reached this conclusion, I’d like to tell you a story that I’m sure most of you are familiar with.

Let’s start at the beginning. Well, around the beginning anyway. The world was still young, and though things haven’t gone wrong yet, they were just about to. Adam’s partner—she didn’t really have a name at the time and wasn’t called Chava until after the whole ordeal. Also, I don’t really know if marriage had been invented yet, so calling her his wife might not be the right thing to do. I’m just a guy who writes about animals—was doing whatever it was that people did in Gan Eden to help make time go by when she was approached by a snake. What species of snake, you might ask. I couldn’t tell you if I wanted to. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter what kind it was because shortly after this non-specified snake convinced Adam’s partner to eat the fruit for reasons that aren’t really specified either, she convinced Adam to do the same, and the rest is history.

Of course, after reading this, people began to associate all snakes with a wide variety of terrible things that I won’t specify because I feel as though I’ll make people angry if I do. I even remember meeting a guy who holds the opinion that because of what the snake did, all of the other animals were kicked out of Gan Eden as well. Now, here’s a little activity for you all at home. Take a few moments to look up roughly how many species of snake there are (unless you’re reading this on Shabbat, of course). I’ll even end the paragraph here so that you can have an easier time finding your place again afterwards.

Do you see the problem yet?

I’ve encountered several different kinds of snakes before, some in captivity, some in the wild. There have even been occasions where I’ve held some of them. Just so we’re clear, by the way, even though not every snake is dangerous to people, you shouldn’t handle every snake you see. Of course, some snakes can be helpful. They can help keep rodent populations in check, and as I learned at the Woodbridge Aquarium, there are some people who keep red-tailed boas (boa constrictors) for this very reason. Why? Because not every snake is the same.

I get that even after reading this article, some opinions won’t change. That’s understandable. People don’t always change so easily, and the words of a summer intern writing for a local newspaper are most likely not going to save any endangered species. However, I hope that after I finish my internship, people will continue to find meaning in the world Hashem created, even if it means learning about an animal that isn’t very well-liked.


Noah Motechin is a summer intern at The Jewish Link.and a rising English major at Rutgers University. He has an affinity for Torah, writing and the natural world.

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