Why Do Monkeys Resemble People?

The Talmud (Berachot 59b) says: “If you see a monkey you make the blessing “He who changed the creations”. The commentators ask: what change was made to creation pertaining to monkeys? The Kabbalist Rabbi Meshulam answers that in the time of the great flood G-d punished some of the people and turned them to monkeys (and elephants). So that is why monkeys look like people because they were once people! This also explains the superior intelligence that monkeys (and Elephants) have over the rest of the animal kingdom.

The Midrash Rabbah (Genesis 23, 9) says: “Four things changed in the times of Enosh:   one, the mountains became rocky, two, the deceased began to rot, three, people’s faces became similar to those of apes, and four, people became susceptible to demons.”
In Sanhedrin (109a) it says about the generation of the “Tower of Babel” one third of the people wanted to wage war against G-d and He turned them into monkeys,

The Malechet Shlomo asks: “Why are these animals (monkeys and elephants) singled out for a special blessing? He answers, look in the Meiri who says they are similar to man in certain aspects.

The Shevet Mussar (chapter47) says we should look at the monkeys and it should arouse us to repent. Why? Because monkeys originally were men and for this reason when they see people they copy them (“monkey see, monkey do”). They want to go back to their original state, to being human again but they can’t so they copy our actions and gestures.”

“So why should a person sin and cause himself irreversible damage … and he will be embarrassed to be seen by people? He will desire to undo the damage but he won’t be able to… today is the time to do them (the mitzvoth) and tomorrow is not the time.. so do them now and don’t wait. Don’t be like the monkey that wants go back to his original state but can’t.”


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