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THE CHEETAH

By: Efraim Harari

The cheetah is a large and powerful feline (member of the cat family) that was once found throughout Africa and Asia and even in parts of Europe. Today, however, cheetahs are confined to only a few remote regions in Africa and Iran. Whereas in the early 1900’s, there were over 100,000 cheetahs living in the wild, there are now far less of them in existence, with under 12,000 cheetahs living in Africa and only around 200 in Iran.

The cheetah has a long and slender bodythat is covered in coarse, yellowish fur and dotted with small black spots. It has a small head, with high-set eyes that aid the cheetah in surveying the surrounding grasslands for prey. The distinctive black “tear marks” that run from the inside corners of the cheetah’s eyes, along its nose, and down to the outside edges of its mouth, is believed to help protect the cheetah from being blinded by the bright sun. The cheetah’s long tail, which can grow up to thirty-three inches in length, has ringed markings and a black tip.

The cheetah is one of Africa’s most graceful predators and is most renowned for its exceptional speed. Capable of racing at the speed of 70 mph, the cheetah is the fastest land animal in the universe!

The dazzling speed of the cheetah isdue to a number of factors, including its long and powerful hind legs and its incredibly flexible and muscular spine, which allow the cheetah to sprint quickly and agilely. The cheetah also has semi-retractable claws (claws that can’t be pulled in) which dig into the ground, giving the cheetah a better grip while it runs at high speeds.

The cheetah is one of the more sociable species of cats, with males often roaming in small groups, generally with their siblings. Strangely enough, it is the females that are more solitary animals, apart from the eighteen months or so that they spend raising their cubs.

The cheetah is unique amongst Africa’s felines in that it is most active during the day. This avoids competition for food from other large and stronger feline predators, like lions and hyenas, which hunt during the cooler night.

Cheetahs hunt a wide assortment of animals, including gazelles, wildebeest, rabbits, antelopes, and ostriches.

Torah Traits

It is a well-known fact that the cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth. It is also well documented that the cheetah is a cunning hunter, blessed with strength, agility, and a keen sense of vision. Yet people might not be aware of the fact that even with all of the cheetah’s fine attributes, it is still only successful with its hunting 50% of the time! If that wasn’t disappointing enough, even when the cheetah finally does catch its prey, there is a good chance that a nearby lion, hyena, or leopard, all of which are stronger than the cheetah, will come and steal it away.

But despite all these obstacles and adversities, the cheetah does not despair. After an unsuccessful hunt or two, or three, the cheetah stops, recoups, and then begins to prepare once again to complete its mission. By observing the cheetah, we can learn a very valuable lesson: to never give up.

An example from the Torah of a great person who had this attribute is Yitzchak Avinu. This is alluded to in Parshat Toldot, when the Torah describes the wells that Yitzchak Avinu dug. When Yitzchak duga well but failed to find water there, he dug elsewhere until he succeeded. When enemies disputed his rights to the water, he went to another site and dug again. Eventually, he found water that no one disputed.

This is the way a person should approach adversity, whether in material projects or spiritual pursuits. Keep trying until you succeed. Should one have difficulty with something – and this is especially true regarding learning Torah – one should not give up or despair, because success is imminent tothose who are determined and persist with their efforts.

Cats, Start your Engines!

Sleek and agile, the body of the cheetah is specially designed to help the cheetah hunt down its prey in a matter of seconds. While sprinting, a cheetah can cover twenty to twenty-two feet in one stride! However, although the cheetah runs extremely fast, it can only run for short periods of time, so it needs to catch its prey almost immediately. Racing at a speed of 70 mph requires a lot of energy, especially when the outside temperature is high. So, after running between 300 to 600 yards, the cheetah usually stops and rests for half an hour in order to catch its breath and regain its normal body temperature, even if it wasn’t successful at capturing its intended target.

Calls of the Wild

The cheetah is a very vocal animal that uses different types of sounds to communicate its feelings. Some of its sounds include chirping, growling, hissing, snarling, moaning, bleating, and purring.

A cheetah emits a chirping sound when trying to locate its cubs. The mother’s chirp sounds like a puppy’s bark. The cubs respond by chirping as well. Their chirping sounds like a bird’s chirping.