©Gail Rubin; Photo Researchers, Inc.

Storks gracefully lift off from fishponds in Israel, a spring stopover on the yearly flight from their African wintering grounds to nesting places in Europe and Scandinavia.

The prophet Jeremiah marveled at the stork’s constancy and viewed its annual migration as proof of the stork’s inborn knowledge of God’s natural order of creation, mishpat Yahweh, and its fulfillment, tzedakah, of God’s ordained purpose for it within the natural order. The Hebrew terms are often translated as “justice of the Lord” (mishpat Yahweh) and “justice” (tzedakah).

Sadly, Jeremiah lamented, only man among all God’s creatures lacks this spiritual compass and acts contrary to God’s will:

“…no man repents of his wickedness,

saying, “What have I done?”

Every one turns to his own course,

like a horse plunging headlong into battle.

Yea, the stork in the heaven

knoweth her appointed times;

and the turtle and the crane and the swallow

observe the time of their coming;

but my people know not the justice of the Lord.”

(Jeremiah 8:6–7)