Friday, June 19, 2009

My, How Many Teeth You Have!

Rabbi Josh Waxman has a fascinating post about Rav Chaim Kanievsky's view on Jews and non-Jews having a different number of teeth: link


  1. This is scary.
    On one hand, it's well known that Rav Eliashiv consults with specialist physicians on a regular basis to know what's going in in medicine in terms of technology, procedures, etc.
    But to think that in this day and age someone is paskening from the Midrash when obvious scientific fact says otherwise?
    As the rest of the post says, if this is the case, how much are these poskim disregarding real science when they are coming out with important teshuvos?

  2. I'm sure linking to this disturbing post was within halachic grounds, but how about lifnei m'shuras hadin?

  3. Boomerang - first of all, see the earlier post about respecting people. Second, this is something that was printed in a newspaper. Third, I think that it is important for people to be informed about these things, so that they are in a better position to assess where to place themselves within the Orthodox world.

    If I would have known about this teeth thing 12 years ago, it would have helped me immensely.

  4. I can appreciate all of your points. Was Rav Eliashiv informed when this story was published in the paper? If so, what was his reaction?

  5. I have no idea, and I highly doubt it.

  6. R. Slifkin,

    First, I would want to verify that this newspaper is accurate; the fact is that R. Chaim has been misquoted before.

    Second,there is a Chasam Sofer I've heard quoted, which based on Gemera about Jews having different diets, holds that medical tests(l'chumra?) can not always be assumed to work for Jews.

    Could the gemera linked below be the basis for the idea of the teeth(I think the teeth is going a step further than the Chasam Sofer which may only be l'chumra)?

    See link(Chasam Sofer YD 175, Niddah 34)

    Actually, I wouldn't mind having some extra teeth, having just returned Friday from my(Jewish) dentist who has done some extensive drilling :)

  7. Shalom, Rav Slifkin,
    I just discovered this site and am looking forward to perusing it. I have your excellent book "The Challenge of Creation" and am hoping that you can keep building upon it and your other books. This is avodat kodesh.

  8. ShadesOf:
    i doubt that that gemara has any direct link to the "tradition" on the number of teeth. that is certainly not the implication of the midrash talpiyos who discusses it, since he considers it in light of the allegation of them being different creations, and even suggests that a future convert will automatically be born with the Jewish number of teeth.

    besides the fact that even if one can draw such a relationship, the number of teeth is something so well-known (with the Jewish number being the famous number) and so easily ascertainable that frankly, who cares if one can develop an "idea" for teeth. how does one find out knowledge about the world? sevarah or investigation?


  9. "If any man will say to you that there is wisdom (teeth) among the gentiles, believe him." -- (Eicha Rabba 2:13)


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