The רחם is one of the non-Kosher birds mentioned in Shemini and Re’eh. Notwithstanding that, its song in Perek Shira is to remind us of imminent arrival of Moshiach .
I will whistle to them and gather them since I redeemed them, and they will increase as they increased in Egypt.
This song is also taught to us in the Gemarra in Chulin as the cry of the ShrakRak which is another name for the Racham, as used by the Targum Yonasan .
The Racham is the ShrakRak and why is it called a Racham, since when the Racham comes it brings mercy – Rachamim- to the world. Says Rav Bibi the son of Abaye, and this is if it is sitting on something and calling ShrakRak. There is a tradition that if it sits on the ground and says ShrakRak the Moshiach will come, as it says I will call to them and they will come. Says Rav Yuda bar Simi to Mar bar Ihi but there was one which sat on a plowed field and called out ShrakRak and a stone came and broke its head. He responded, that one was a liar.
What is the explanation of this Gemarra and what is the unique song of this bird? Based on the Maharal we will explain that it is about the revelation of the tremendous mercy of the ingathering of the exiles, and the arrival of Moshiach.
The Maharal explains the Gemarra in the following manner . The sound that the bird makes is described as Shrak. In Hebrew that is the last letters of the Aleph Bet, but from the end to the beginning. It starts from the next to last letter Shin, rather than Tav, for a reason we will explain as we progress. What is the significance of this?
HaShem created the world with the letters of the Aleph Bet. Even more basically, before He created the world, He created the letters themselves to serve as the building blocks of the world. That is how the Torah begins: בראשית ברא א”ת- In the beginning He created א”ת the letters. Not only are the letters created, but the order of the letters is also part of the process of creation, as seen in the way Chazal in various places explain the connection from one letter to the next.
The Tur explains that there are actually two orders of the Aleph Bet. There is the standard one from Aleph to Tav, and then there is the order of תשר”ק, from the end to Aleph. The first one is from the One to the expansion to all four corners as Tav is four hundred. The other is from the many to the One. The first is how HaShem created the world, from His Unity to the world of many seemingly disparate parts. The opposite Aleph Bet is how we take the many and bring out the reality of the unity that is hidden in the mask of the world.
Therefore explains the Maharal that this bird whose call is the שר”ק is calling the many to the unity. These letters also spell קשר which means a knot that ties things together. The trait of mercy is when people are joined together. When we say: As a father has mercy on his children, so too You our Father should have mercy on us. That is because there is no greater connection than father to a child. And it begins from the ש since the ת is still the separation, so it begins from the first step of rejoining.
A bird by definition joins two disparate realms, the sky and the earth. That is why when the bird comes down to the earth it brings mercy, since it is joining the different realms, and that arouses the mercy of the heavens onto the earth. And that is why the closer it is to the earth, the more mercy is brought into the world.
That call is the call of Moshiach, who will show the Kingdom of HaShem in this world, as we say in the davening on Rosh HaShanah :
And they will be made a unified group to perform Your will with a complete heart.
The call of the ShrakRak is the sound of connection, as we lift all the seemingly disparate parts of the world, which to seem to repel each other, and form them into a unified whole serving HaShem.
But what is the meaning of the bird which is killed as it seems to be sitting on the ground calling the Moshiach? What does it mean that it is a “deceitful bird”? And also, how can we say the letters of שרק spell קשר a knot that joins together, when they also spell שקר which means falsehood?
We find in the history of Klal Yisroel a concept of what is usually called false messiahs. But I think that even though there are times that that is whom they are, there is also another type of Moshiach that does not bring a complete redemption. That is an incomplete Messiah. One of the most prominent of all is Bar Kochva. As the Rambam writes R’ Akiva and many of the great sages of that generation thought that he was the Messiah. But when he did not fulfill his potential, they changed his name from Bar Kochva- the son of the star; to Bar Koziva– the son of disappointment. A disappointment means that there was potential, but it did not come to completion, but not that it was false from the beginning.
In the writings of R Menachem Azariah of Fano , he connects some of these events. He says if we look at the first redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt, even there we find a false messiah. The tribe of Ephraim thought the time for redemption had come thirty years earlier, and under the leadership of Gavan, who thought the time had come, they left Egypt. Those people were killed as they travelled by the Plishtim, and their bones remained in the desert till Yechezkel resurrected them. He writes that Bar Kochva was a reincarnation of that person, who once again attempts to lead us to redemption, but it does not work. But once again the bodies remain in the field, but do not decompose, and are ultimately brought to burial to await resurrection. And both of these processes will come to fruition through Moshiach ben Yosef, who will begin the redemption, be killed, but then will have resurrection through Moshiach ben David.
This process is very basic to Avodas HaShem. As is written , a Tzadik falls seven times but arises. The arousal is from the fall. The unfulfilled potential is the catalyst for the final redemption. Since I fall, I arise ; writes the Navi .
So the false ShrakRak is the Moshiach of disappointment, who will begin a process of redemption, but be killed before it can be completed. That is why in the word שרק there is קשר which means connection, but also שקר falsehood. Everything that is false, has to carry within itself something true, since a completely false entity cannot exist in the world. So ultimately all the שקר needs to have a קשר and through that קשר will come to reality .
This idea of שרק is found in a number of other places in Tanach.
In the Beracha of Yehuda, the young donkey is tied to a שרקה, which Rahsi explains is referring to the arrival of Moshiach .
Shimshon who is a potential Moshiach finds one of his wives in נחל שורק. Here we see another potential Moshiach tied to the seeming שקר of שרק, but even Shimshon in the end brings a redemption through his death .
And lastly there is another Pasuk of redemption through שרק. And I planted you as a vine, all children of truth. Even though it is שקר but it is redeemed through אמת .
This sound of the ShrakRak is reminiscent of the Shofar. It represents the שברים תרועה תקיעה . The power of the Shofar is all three of these ideas. It is the sound of the Shofar of Moshiach. It is the sound of unification as we say every day in Shemoneh Esreh, and even more so on Rosh HaShanah, Blast the great shofar of our freedom, and gather all of our exiles. And the Shofar brings mercy, as through the sound of the Shofar HaShem leaves the throne of judgment and sits on the throne of mercy. And even more relevant to us, it is to dig deep within all the false misleading ‘truths’ around us, find within them the point of real truth, and from that grow the complete connection to HaShem, and make ourselves worthy of the arrival of Moshiach.