Some time ago I posted on the topic of Emunah and Proofs, promising some day to revisit the topic. Well, that day has partly come.
This past week, Rabbi Meyer Lubin wrote an interesting letter to the Flatbush Jewish Journal.
I present the letter below, Page 59, with only the telephone number redacted:
Wrong AnimalWhile I believe Rabbi Lubin has good reason to question the identification of these animals, I believe there are several minor errors in his thesis.
There is a serous mistake in all the English
translations of Vayikra 11:5,6. The two
animals mentioned there are the shafan
and arneves. These two words have been
translated as “rabbit,” “coney,” or “hare.” But
these translations are impossible. The Torah
there clearly states that the shafan and
arneves have hooves. Hares have claws- like
cats. Shafan and arneves are maalei geirah chew
their cud- rabbits don’t. Gemara Hulin
lists on 59a shafan and arneves among
the b’haimos. A coney is a b’haimah?? It’s a
If your readers want to know the
correct translations, please call me at
TO REMOVE A STUMBLING BLOCK
FROM THE PATH OF MY PEOPLE.
Rabbi Meyer Lubin
He first states that the Torah says clearly that the shafan and arneves have hooves.
Now, granted this may be true according to Rashi, but according to the Rashbam, and many others, the definition of Mafris Parsa means HOOVED, not HAS SPLIT HOOVES. So according to Rashbam, the Torah is saying precisely the opposite of Rabbi Lubin. That the shafan and arneves do not have hooves. Uparsa Lo Yafris, and Uparsa Lo Hifrisa mean precisely that...that they do not have hooves.
Secondly, I don't see how one can be so sure that the shafan and arneves can't be chayos. Beheima is sometimes used generically for both beheima and chaya, and the gemara at the bottom of the page brings the arod into the conversation, and the arod is clearly a chaya (mishna kilayim 8:6).
Notwithstanding these minor errors, I believe that Rabbi Lubin is correct that the rabbit/coney/hare option is not feasible due to the other issue that these animals don't chew their cud. At least not in the conventional sense.
Rabbi Shamshon Rafael Hirsch already pointed this out in his commentary to this topic (vayikra 11:3-7).
As for Rabbi Lubin's theory (stated elsewhere) that these animals are from the camel/llama family, that also does not fit well with the other sources in Tanach (Tehillim 104:18) which discuss the shafan hiding under the rocks, something that the llama family is clearly not capable of. Secondly, the gemara on 59a clearly states that the shafan/arneves have teeth on top of their mouths, something that the llama/camel family do not.