By: Efraim Harari
The ram is an adult male sheep. Adult female sheep are called ewes, and baby sheep are called lambs. The ram is mostly noted for its huge, curled horns. The larger the horns, the more prestigious it is for the ram, since the horns serve as a symbol of status and are used as dangerous weapons when the ram battles rivals.
While female sheep are generally timid and peaceful, rams usually exhibit the opposite type of behavior. Rams are very aggressive and can cause fatal injuries to both people and animals.
Having a competitive nature, the rams is known to establish a dominance hierarchy within its group, through fighting and intimidating other rams. Horn size is a key factor in determining flock hierarchy. Rams with smaller horns are less inclined to fight with other rams to establish the dominance order, while rams with similarly-sized horns are quite eager to go to battle with
The ram has an extraordinary sense of smell, which it uses to find water and to differentiate between the various types of pasture plants that it likes to consume. The ram also possesses a strong sense of hearing, as well as very good eyesight, which it mainly uses for watching its surrounding areas
An herbivore, the ram generally eats grasses, plants, cacti, and seeds. The ram has a split in its upper lip, which allows it to pick preferred leaves off of plants. Like all kosher animals, after the ram eats a mouthful of food, it will spit it out.This regurgitated food is called cud. Then the ram will re-chew the food and swallow it once again. This is part of the sheep’s digestion process.
The size of the ram depends on the species. It can weigh anywhere between 115 and 315 pounds, with a shoulder height ranging between thirty-two and forty inches.
Field of Vision
Sheep rely on their eyesight to survive in the wild. The ram has big pupils, plus its eyes are situated to the side of its head, which gives it a wider field of vision. The ram is able to view its surroundings with just a slight movement of its head, as its field of vision can range up to 300 degrees.
Yet despite the ram’s fine sense of vision, it does not have good depth perception (three-dimensional vision), especially when traveling with its head up. This is why the ram will often pause to check things out more closely.
The ram has a hard time picking out small details and is hesitant to walk where it can’t see.
Avraham looked up and noticed a ram caught in a bush by its horns. Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering in place of his son. (Beresheet 22:13)
It says in the Yerushalmi(Ta’anit10b): Rabi Chonah said in the name of Rabi Chinanah bar Yitzchak: All that day Avraham saw the ram getting entangled, first in a tree, but it freed itself and went out. Then it became entangled in a grove, but it freed itself again and went out. Then it became entangled in this bush, until it freed itself once more and went out.
The Holy One Blessed is He said to Avraham, “Likewise, in the future, your children will become tangled in sin and entrapped from Bavel to Madai, from Madai to Yavan, andfrom Yavan to Edom.”
Avraham said, “Master of the World! Will it be like this forever?”
Hashem answered him, “In the end, they will be redeemed by the horns of this ram [as it says], And Gd will blow with a shofar and go forth in southern tempests. (Zechariah9:14)”
The ram of Avraham Avinu was no ordinary ram. Pirkei Avot(5:8) teaches us that ten things were created at twilight on Erev Shabbat during the six days of Creation, and one of them was the ram of Avraham Avinu. No wonder the Satan took an active interest in this ram and tried to keep it from fulfilling its destiny as Yitzchak’s stand-in at the Akeidah, by getting the ram tangled up in different places. And, just as the Satan employed this method then, he has since constantly been trying to entangle the Jewish People in sin, in order to
keep us from fulfilling our own destinies, whether personal or national.
Because of this, measure for measure, each year on Rosh Hashanah, Hashem ensures that the Satan himself becomes “ensnared” and powerless – by the shofar blowing of the Jewish People. (Rosh Hashanah16b) It is the shofar that has the power to neutralize the Satan in his war against Klal Yisrael’s Redemption. And that is why, when the Redemption finally does come, Hashem with signal this specifically by blowing a shofar.
The bighorn sheep is named after the large, curved horns of the ram. The females also have horns, but not nearly as big and with less curvature. Older rams have massive horns that can grow over three feet long, with more than one foot in circumference at the base.
The bighorn sheep is most famous for its uncanny ability to climb high, steep, rocky, mountains. Its split hooves are specially designed for mountain climbing. The outer hooves are modified toenails shaped to grasp any slight protrusion, while a soft inner pad provides a natural grip that conforms to the surface of the rocky mountain terrain. At times, these sure-footed creatures only have a two-inch-wide ledge to walk on!
The bighorn sheep’s steep, mountainous habitat may seem like a dangerous place to live, but it actually provides a great deal of security to the bighorn, as it prevents predators from intruding on them. Predators such as coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and bears will generally not even attempt to attack the bighorn sheep while it is traveling on this treacherous terrain.
Lambs are born each spring, and they live high on secluded ledges in order to be protected from predators. Newborn lambs can walk and climb within a day after birth. When the lamb is one week old, it will join the rest of the herd with its mother.
Bighorn rams can grow over six and a half feet long, from nose to tail, and weigh up to 315 pounds.