Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paper Patron Protests Parsa

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 Animal

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
small chayala!!
If your readers want to know the
correct translations, please call me at
Rabbi Meyer Lubin
While I believe Rabbi Lubin has good reason to question the identification of these animals, I believe there are several minor errors in his thesis.

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.



    How so? Was anyone up until this point consuming the TRUE (per the letter writer)shafan and/or arneves.

    If they weren't precisely which stumbling nlock has been eradicated?

  2. Well, I suppose there is a mitzvah to understand Torah, no?

    Additionally, the Rambam counts 4 separate mitzvos with regard to simanim, not only not to eat non-kosher, but to KNOW the difference between a kosher and non-kosher animal, between a kosher and non-kosher bird, between a kosher and non-kosher fish and between a kosher and non-kosher locust.

    Ironically, the Rambam is in Rashi's camp on the definition of mafris parsa, so he may be a victim of his own rulings.

  3. You missed out the main reason why these animals can't be from the llama family. The llama family all live in South America. Whereas the shafan is described in Chumash and Kesuvim, and is thus clearly a familiar animal.

  4. Well, not necessarily true. Gemara in Chulin 42a says Hashem showed all the animals to Moshe, so it is quite possible he gathered them from all over and showed them to him. Similarly to what he did during Noach's day.

    As for Kesuvim, it is quite possible that the mesorah was lost by that time, and the authors unknowingly attributed names to the wrong animals.

  5. Awesome picture, you managed to show the teeth on top and non hooves simultaneously. I can almost see the non Maleh Garyah also.

  6. No letters this week to the editor in reply to Rabbi Lubin. Pity. You should have sent this there.

  7. I value the rabbit as an important reason to understand the Torah in a different way than is usually understood. somethings I understand as allegory. Other things in understand as kabalistic. the things in Torah i think are absolute are the basic principles and the Talmudic understanding of the mitzvot.
    Also I quote from talkreason: "We have no more reason to doubt that the arnevet is the hare than we have to doubt the chazir is the pig. Moreover, the Talmud itself (Megillah 9b) relates that the Greek king of Egypt, Ptolemy, ordered the Jewish sages to translate the Torah into Greek for him. The Sages did not translate arnevet literally, for the king's wife was called "Arnevet" and they feared the king would consider the literal translation a mockery. Some manuscripts of the Talmud say that it was not the king's wife but his father who was called "Arnevet." Indeed, the father of Ptolemy I, the first Greek king of Egypt and the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, was called Lagus, which sounds quite similar to the Greek word for hare -- lagos."

  8. There certainly is more reason to doubt the translation of hare, than that of pig.

    The Torah says that the pig has split hooves and does not chew the cud. That has been verified scientifically.

    The Torah says the shafan/arneves chew the cud. The rabbit/hare/coney don't. So we probably do not have the correct translation.

  9. BH
    Dear Adam, you wrote:
    "Some manuscripts of the Talmud say that it was not the king's wife but his father who was called "Arnevet."

    Could you please provide any source regarding these manuscripts?

    Thank you very much.

  10. גרס אמו של תלמי המלן ארנבת שמה

  11. BH
    Dear SomeHow
    Thank you for your reply.
    I was aware of a few places in Chazal where instead of his wife it is written his mother.
    My question is regarding: "his father" because it would be easier to match it with what it is now known about Ptolomey family.
    Thanks any way family

  12. Sorry the last word "family" was a mistake.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Another point worth mentioning; the camel and its family of species is in a certain sense “more” kosher than the pig! The camel chews its cud and almost has fully split hooves! Therefore, it would certainly seem integral why the Torah would need to mention ALL of the camel like species.(namely the zero hump camel/[llama], single hump and double hump) Since these animals could very easily be confused for being kosher! On the other hand all the species that comprise the “pig” family such as the Hippopotamus and Peccary would be easily discernible as not being kosher since they don’t chew their cud!

    Regarding (Proverbs 30:24, 26) "There are four in the land that are small" I would like to make a few points. Firstly, the term small is highly relative. Small could be in relation to the vast expanse of the world. But perhaps more likely it may allude to the fact that the Llama family is indeed quite smaller than the other two species of camel! The fact that the Torah mentions the Shafan as not having split hooves using the future tense strongly supports the notion that the Jewish people were indeed not as of yet familiar with this species! (Since the Llama is indeed native to South America, which at that point in history was not yet discovered)

    The fact that King David and King Solomon referred to this species, even though one could argue that they weren’t aware of their identity. One could suggest that these passages were written with divine inspiration. The Medrash (Midrash Bereishis Rabbah 12:9) could have deduced from these psukim as well that shfan was a mammal like animal dwelling in the mountains. The Medrash’s assumption that it’s natural predators are giant carnivorous birds is not so farfetched. At least not anymore farfetched then claiming an animal like the hyrax chews its cud, when it doesn’t “bring up its cud” from its stomach in the literal sense of the word.

    1. MO, Please provide me with an email address.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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