Not Waiting Till The Cows Come Home

In Honolulu last Thursday, a cow didn’t come home. Police shot and killed it after it escaped its pasture. It wasn’t wanted for murder. The heifer was just wandering along the Farrington Highway, blocking traffic.

It turned into a one-cow stampede. A video showed the cow charging at one person and sideswiping a car, knocking off its side mirror.

Officers arrived at the scene and fired three shots at the cow. “The cow became agitated, and the officers were forced to take action,” Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

But Bud Gibson, owner of the Rocker G Livestock Ranch, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that his ranch hands had cut open the fence to allow the cow to go back in the pasture. “If you leave them alone, they’ll go back in,” he said. But the chaos caused by cars and people had the animal defending its survival, Gibson insisted. “It’s sad that it happened,” he said. “We love our livestock.”

There were no reports of bovine protests, but on Monday, less than a week later, another cow got out of Gibson’s ranch, forcing police to reroute traffic.

This time, however, the cow escaped the fate of the first runaway. Gibson called in a couple of seasoned cowhands and, in a cow-roping feat that could have been a rodeo event, Stoney Joseph and his father, Stanley Joseph Jr., of Diamond J Ranch, captured the cow and brought it home.

Stoney Joseph commented, “It’s rough. You are dealing with 800 to 900 lbs. in your hands with a rope.”

Cows also made news this week an ocean away. The Swiss army, which, contrary to popular belief, does not make pocket knives, also doesn’t seem to have much else to do, since the Swiss militia doesn’t take part in armed conflicts with other countries.

But the Swiss government finally found something for the soldiers to do that didn’t violate their neutrality.

On Tuesday, the Swiss army was ordered to rescue cows in the far west of the country. The cows weren’t under siege, not by foreign forces or home-grown terrorists. They were suffering from a weeklong heat wave.

Army spokesman Urs Mueller says troops are erecting eight artificial reservoirs in the Jura mountains to supply cows with drinking water. He added that Super Puma helicopters will scoop water out of nearby lakes and fly it up to pastures.

In Switzerland they are extremely humane. That is, ostensibly, why they banned shechitah. It seems they were never informed that shechitah k’halachah is the most humane form of slaughter.

Apparently, being humane doesn’t always include kindness to humans. The 2015 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Global 100 study measuring public attitudes and opinions toward Jews in over 100 countries found Switzerland right on the fault line. Twenty-six percent of adults surveyed in Switzerland harbor anti-Semitic beliefs. This exactly equals the global average. The lowest rates were in Oceania, at 14 percent, the Americas, at 19 percent, and Asia at 22 percent. Predictably, the highest rates were in the Middle East and North Africa, at 74 percent.

In the most common anti-Semitic attitude in Switzerland, 50 percent of Swiss adults believe that “Jews talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”

Of course, this comes on the heels of an odd Jewish refusal to forget that the Swiss refused to give asylum to many Jews fleeing the Nazis. And the Jewish refusal to give up on the funds and property that Swiss banks helped the Nazis steal. Bringing up issues like these makes the Swiss feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Being unwilling to just forget about it has definitely made relations with Switzerland awkward at best for Jews and Israel.

Perhaps someone should have reminded the Swiss that Jews are tzon kedoshim — Hashem’s flock of Holy Sheep. Maybe, then, they would have been more humane to Jews.

They have nothing to teach us. We have a tradition of kindness from before the Helvetii migrated from Germany to Switzerland in the 2nd century.

Rabi Yehudah Hanasi, known simply as Rebbi, was the leader of his generation. Yet this great leader suffered excruciating illness for much of his life. Why? The Gemara (Bava Metzia 85a) relates that a calf being taken to slaughter broke away and hid itself under Rebbi’s cloak.

Rebbi told the calf, “For this, you were created,” and brought it back to the slaughterer. For not having mercy on the calf, Rebbi lay ill for years. One day he saw a servant chasing weasels out of his house and he told her, “Let them be. It is written, ‘And His tender mercies are over all His works.’”

Immediately there was a decree in Heaven: “Since he was compassionate, let us be compassionate to him.” And Rebbi was cured.

We’re waiting for our own cow to come home — the parah adumah that will cleanse us from all the tumah of galus.