Tzefaniah 1

In the great destruction threatened by Tzefania, the animals, birds, and fish are to be destroyed along with the people (1:3). Why did these innocent creatures deserve to be destroyed – what did they do wrong? Rashi (Bereishis 6:7) is faced with a similar problem regarding the destruction of the animals in the flood in the times of Noach.

Rashi gives two answers, both of which are relevant here. Either the animals too, behaved immorally. With humans perverting Hashem’s sense of order and blocking the expression of Hashem in this world, animals were influenced to follow suit too. (It is well-known that male animals cohabit with other males in parts of San Fransisco where homosexuality is more common.). Or, since the entire physical world was created for our sake – to be used to aid our spiritual growth – once we failed in this mission, the tools (animals and the like) were to be destroyed too.

The combined message: we have a major role and responsibility in this world.