Friday, January 27, 2017

Is it Eating Away at You? (the true price of freedom)

The goal of this email is to teach mind-control at the Shabbat table ...  Please share.
Continuing to wish a speedy recovery to Tamar Adina bas Kayna Shulamis.
Wishing condolences to the family of Shmuel (Sam) Wagonfeld.

cc_wasp_BNational Geographic reports this week that a new type of hyperparasite has been discovered in Texas.

(The story is a bit gruesome; reader discretion advised.)

First a tiny (1-8mm) gall wasp digs a cozy home inside an oak tree.

Along comes this newly-discovered "set" wasp (named for the murderous, manipulative Egyptian god), also called "crypt-keeper".

"Nice place to lay an egg," she says. And so she does.

When that egg hatches, what comes out? A larva of course. It's now a bit crowded in there and the larva wants to get out and grow into a wasp.

But by now the doorway into the nest has become blocked by new bark. Larvae can't dig through bark.

First question for your table: How would you guess it gets out?

can't dig through wood, but it somehow manages to burrow into the other wasp.

That's right: all the way to its head.

And it takes over the wasp's mind.

Now in control like some kind of nanoprobe, the set wasp larva forces the gall wasp to start tunneling through the tree’s bark.

But set wasp larvae are a bit impatient. Rather than wait for its gall wasp host to dig all the way out, as soon as the zombie gall wasp has created a hole large enough for a larva (but too small for a wasp), the nanoprobe larva starts to grow into an adult, eating its way through its host. At the last moment before it too is too large to fit through the hole, it erupts through the gall wasp's forehead and through that small hole to freedom.

The second question for your table: Is freedom worth it if it requires the destruction of another creature?

This question reminds me of a story I heard from the Holocaust.

The Zlotchover Rebbe was in Auschwitz.

He was starving, like everyone else there.

Once he found a fellow Jew who was even worse off than himself. He was lying down and looked like he was about to die. The Rebbe had one morsel of bread in his pocket and gave it to this Jew.

I doubt that anyone writing or reading this email can appreciate what that act meant. It certainly meant greater suffering for the giver, and almost certainly meant suicide.

The recipient found the strength to say, "Rebbe, I want to give you a blessing that you should live to get out of this place."

Soon after that, the Rebbe found himself in nearly the same position that he had found the man, horizontal and dying of hunger.

Just then a capo came in, saw the Rebbe lying there, and took pity on him. He produced a bag of sugar cubes from his pocket and gave them to the Rebbe, saving his life.

The Rebbe did live to get out of that place, and he always attributed his survival to the blessing that that Jew gave him, which stemmed from his own act of chesed.

Shabbat Shalom

PS - The Zlotchover Rebbe's niggun:

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