Parsha Mitzvot: Tetzaveh: Only If He Likes Them
Male seahorses have been lauded as the gallant “Mr. Moms” of the animal world, and pipefish, their close relatives, are devoted fathers too. The female pipefish injects eggs into the male, which then bears live young.
But recent research suggests these model dads are not being selfless: pipefish treat their offspring well only if they really like their mates.
A researcher mated Gulf pipefish in multiple trials. Previous studies had shown that the males, which breed with a single female at a time, show a preference for larger partners. A scientist found that offspring of these attractive females had higher survival rates than those of their less comely kin.
She suspects the males employ “cryptic choice,” a strategy of selecting the mother for their babies after mating has occurred. The father pipefish might do this by transferring more nutrients to broods mothered by attractive females and allowing less desirable broods to languish.
I suspect that the reason the dedication of the Mishkan began with an act of achieving atonement was to tell us that no matter how we behaved, no matter how God viewed our intentions or actions, He would continue to provide us with the highest level of nutrients through this Tabernacle, or Temple. God does not decide whether to nurture us spiritually, based on our immediate behavior or ‘attractiveness, but based on our desire to repair what we have damaged. God constantly provides spiritual nutrients, but especially the nutrients necessary to achieve atonement.