The most notorious talking animal in the Torah is the snake (nachash) in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). More about the snake later. Yep, we have spirit animals in Jewish literature (Torah, Midrash and folklore) and they converse with humans! All are meant to mentor or impart a message, as spirit animals do.
I love the kind of stuff that takes the stuffiness out of religion!
King David and The Spider
(Ben Sirah 23b, אוצר מדרשים Otzar Midrashim 47)
When King David was a young shepherd boy watching over his father’s sheep, he often came across spiders’ webs strung across tree branches, shining in the sun. David thought the spiders were fascinating creatures to weave such webs, but he could see no purpose in them.
One day David decided to ask GD. “Why, O Creator of the world, did you make spiders? You can’t even wear their webs as clothing!”
GD answered David, “A day will come when you will need the work of this creature. Then you will thank me.” David grew up to become a King and a courageous warrior. He married King Saul’s daughter and the people of the land looked up to him.
His father-in-law, King Saul, saw King David as a threat to his authority and power. He sent his soldiers to kill his son-in-law and eliminate the competition. King David ran away to the wilderness, hoping King Saul’s anger would dissipate and he could return to his home. No dice. King Saul did not have a change of heart.
With King Saul’s soldiers closing in, King David ran inside a cave to hide. He heard the footsteps of the soldiers and knew it wouldn’t be long before they discovered his hiding place.
At that moment, King David spotted a small spider at the front of the cave. The spider tells him, “GD sent me to save you.” King David scoffed in disbelief, asking “How can a little creature like you possibly save me from King Saul’s army?” With lighting speed, the spider began spinning a web across the entire mouth of the cave. Just as he finished King David heard one of King Saul’s men exclaim, “He couldn’t possibly be hiding in here, for the spider’s web across the mouth of the cave is unbroken.”
As so it came to be that a talking spider saved King David’s life. King David thanked GD for creating all the creatures, especially the itsy bitsy spider.
Noah and The Raven
Noah is famous for sending a dove out to see if it was safe to leave the ark after the great flood, but the dove was not the first bird Noah sent out, that distinction goes to the raven. (Bereisheet/Genesis 8:7)
Midrash has the raven confronting Noah. The raven believes GD hates him because he told Noah to bring seven of each Kosher animal and only two of each non-Kosher animal, putting his species at risk for extinction. The raven speaks to Noah and outright accuses Noah of trying to kill him and his species by sending him out of the ark to investigate, knowing he and his female mate are the only two ravens left in the world.”Why me? The raven asks. “Because,” Noah says, “The world has no need of you. You’re no good to eat or to sacrifice.”
The raven goes out, but just keeps circling the ark, leaving Noah all fermished (confused). At that point, GD steps in and tells Noah to take the raven back into the ark (Midrash/Genesis Rabah 38:4). Having failed with the raven, Noah sends out a dove to suss out the situation. The dove complies, cooing placidly, as is her nature. There are seven of her kind, therefore she doesn’t have the same concerns as the raven.
Later on, GD assigns ravens (not any other type of bird) the crucial task of feeding the prophet Elijah/Eliyahu — bringing him bread and meat every morning and evening. (Melachim I – I Kings – Chapter 17)
Click Page 2 below for Spirit Animals Part 2!