The Wisdom of the Rooster

August 21, 2011 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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Every day prayers begin with thanking G-d for our basic needs like the power of sight, the ability to walk, our clothing, shoes and all other essentials. However, there is one blessing that seems to stand out a little. In this prayer we thank G-d “for giving the rooster understanding to distinguish between day and night.” 

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

There are two difficulties with this blessing. Firstly, all the other blessings thank G-d for providing our basic needs. While it is an amazing phenomenon that roosters crow at the beginning of each day, it does not seem to be a basic need. Secondly, telling the difference between light and dark is not so difficult. Why does it require special understanding to distinguish between day and night?

A friend once shared with me a great thought. Although a rooster crows at the beginning of each day it actually happens some time before it gets light. When it senses that dawn will break soon, and light is on the way to substitute the darkness, he emits the crowing noise that became the ancient alarm clock.

In every day there are periods of light – clarity, blessing, peace of mind and prosperity; but there are also sometimes patches of darkness – challenge, confusion and difficulty. It takes special strength not to be caught up in the moments of challenge. It takes maturity to look beyond the darkness and see the light that awaits us. A wise person learns from the rooster. He/she knows that the darkness is only temporary and light is on the way. The rooster is symbolic of an attitude filled with optimism, hope and belief. The rooster teaches us to envisage and celebrate blessing even before it comes.

Every day we thank G-d for the wisdom of the rooster. It is the rooster’s lesson that will carry us through every part of the day.

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