Shabbat Shalom: The Bird and Its Wings

Apr 4, 2024 | Article

By: Michelle Ruby
Director of Israel Teen Emissaries and Education

Parsha Shimini is a culmination of the events that find the Israelites finally able to welcome G-d’s presence into the Tabernacle and among the camp of Israel. On the 8th day, Moses calls for Aaron, his sons, and the elders of Israel. There are several commentaries that address the invitation of the elders to the ceremony to initiate the Aaron’s sons as the High Priests. It becomes clear that the elders are part of the chain of command and implies that the elders are an extension of Moses and are regarded as part of the institution of teaching Torah.  These commentaries regard them as indispensable.

As I was reading, I came across a saying from Rabbi Akiva.”the people of Israel need their elders just as birds need wings…the elders enable the people to ascend and use their wings as protection.” As we begin to prepare for Passover, the ultimate holiday for transmitting our history to all the generations, this got me thinking about my own family and the blessing of the elders I share my holiday celebrations with each year.  As four generations gather around my Bubie’s table to hold a seder, enjoy a meal and sing our litany of favorite songs, I am constantly reminded of the love and support my grandmother and parents bring to my life and to my daughters. The analogy of the bird and its wings of shelter resonates for me this year more than ever before. There are so many moments in our lives that we need guidance, but also, we need the transmission of memory, values, traditions and comfort only those who come before us can provide.  I encourage everyone to find those that are birds for you, take a few moments of comfort under their wings and then make them proud as they watch you fly into this complex world.

Please email Michelle Ruby at with questions or comments.