Friday, June 10, 2011

Status Report

I sometimes receive questions about what I'm doing, and the status of various projects, so I decided to post a status report.

At the moment I am enrolled in the Jewish History department at Bar-Ilan University. I am currently finishing my hashlamot (which were required because my MA was in תורה שבעל פה rather than history) so that I can begin my PhD this coming year. My plan is to write my doctoral dissertation in the field of nineteenth century explorations of Biblical and Talmudic zoology.

This year I have also been working on a translation of Ketav Tamim which I have nearly finished. I don't know if and when it will be published; I was hired by an individual to translate it for his own interest and projects. And, of course, I spend a lot of time working on this website!

Current and Imminently Forthcoming Books

The Challenge Of Creation - In print, currently at the third edition.

Sacred Monsters - Out of print (though I have some copies left at home). I have finished the revisions for a new edition, but I can't print it until I finish raising sponsorship. So far I have raised half the funds required. In terms of reviving and spreading the rationalist approach of the Rishonim, this is probably the most effective way of doing so, since the subject matter is popular, the scientific reality is near-undeniable, and the sources are as incontrovertible as you can get. If you are interested in being involved with this project, please email me at

Sacred Monsters Hebrew Edition - (מפלצות מן האגדה) - The Hebrew translation is nearly finished, after which I will need to raise funds to publish it. It will be interesting to see the reaction when my first banned book makes its entrance in the Hebrew-speaking world!

Perek Shirah: Nature's Song - In print. Great for people who love nature, and for those with an anti-rationalist obsession with segulos. Also invaluable in terms of showing that I'm not just interested in writing on controversial topics.

Man & Beast - Out of print (though I have some copies left at home), but I might reprint it at some point.

Longer Term Book Projects

The Camel, the Hare and the Hyrax - I need to revise it, but I really hope to republish it sometime in the not-too-far distant future. It would be great if I can do so before Daf Yomi arrives at this topic again.

Shaking the Heavens: Rabbinic Responses to Astronomical Revolutions - I've prepared most of the material for this already, but there's still quite a bit for me to do.

Studies in Rationalist Judaism - A compilation of most of the monographs that I published on this site, along with other material that I have yet to write.

The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom - It's painful when people ask me about this. I put in a vast amount of work for years, completing significant parts of several volumes. Then I was sidetracked with the ban, and then with republishing my books, and then with academia. I really hope to get back to it next year, and then publish the first volume (on wild animals) within two years.

Worlds in Collision (tentative title) - A full documentation and analysis of the ban on my books.

Other Long Term Projects

  • Completely re-doing the Zoo Torah website
  • Improving the Rationalist Judaism blog, making into a website with different sections
  • Figuring out the best way to publish my books as e-books.

Very Long Term Dream

A Torah Zoological Gardens and Museum in Bet Shemesh. This would feature live animal exhibits, zoological artifacts, and a strong emphasis on education, all presenting a Biblical and Talmudic perspective on the animal kingdom. I've been dreaming about this for years, and I have some unique ideas for it. You can dedicate it for just twenty million dollars! (Dedicating Sacred Monsters is much cheaper.)


  1. For me, the topic that I would like to know more about is the Rabbinic response to the Copernican Theory. I once heard a very prominent Rav claim that the Rabbis had no problem with it, but in Challenge of Creation you mention that they did. Is there any more information about this pending the completion of the book you mentioned?

  2. Out of curiosity, who is going to be your dissertation mentor?
    Also i wanted to ask what you think of this animated clip, for educational purposes?

  3. Hey, what happened to that book you promised Rabbi Feldman you'd write about the ban?

  4. Oops, I forgot to mention that. Yes, that's one of my longer term projects. I'll add it to the list.

  5. Also i wanted to ask what you think of this animated clip, for educational purposes?

    Haven't got time to watch it now, but in general I am very much not a fan of his approach; see my critique in The Challenge Of Creation.

  6. Y.Ben David: Many rabbis were-- and some still are!--opposed to Copernicus' heliocentric theory. For a rather full list down to the mid-19th century, see my article, "Torah U-Madda in the Thought of Rabbi Samson Raphaal Hirsch, BDD 5, p.12. For bibliographical references, see notes 23-24.

    Rabbi Sliifkin: Keep up your great Melekhet Shammayim.

    Lawrence Kaplan

  7. An english version of the same movie can be seen on youtube as well. I have embedded them in my blog at

  8. Y. Ben-David,

    see this interesting article

  9. Have you considered ebook editions of some of the out-of-print works? It costs a lot less than maintaining a physical inventory. Lulu, Smashwords, B&N and Amazon make it easy.

  10. PhD, you have one already, its just that piece of paper on the wall you need to get. Definitely go for it. Even if it means to spend less time working on this website (blog).
    Will you publish your doctoral essay? Might as well kill two birds with one stone.

    It would be interesting indeed, to see if the Israeli Rabbinate's attitude, mirror that of their American counterpart, with the releasing of Sacred Monsters Hebrew Edition - (מפלצות מן האגדה)

    As I see it, a ban from these Rabbis is saying you are doing something right. And if it dose happen in Israel, it will bring more attention and arouse more interest then in the US, I am sure. Israelis have a greater passion for controversial topics. Which, by the way means, you will sell a lot of books.

    "Shaking the Heavens: Rabbinic Responses to Astronomical Revolutions."

    This sould be as equally interesting. Looking forward to seeing, what else it would shake.

    "Studies in Rationalist Judaism."

    Will you have the valiancy to include any of the comments submitted?

    "Worlds in Collision (tentative title) - A full documentation and analysis of the ban on my books."

    Have you thought of, "The World in Collision with ?." as a title.

    This work will be a true inspiration for all.
    When we are being pushed unfairly, push right back twice as hard.
    A very valuable lesson.
    A lesson we must all not fail to learn.
    Thank you for teaching it to us.

  11. It sounds like you have a good ten years' work laid out if you don't do anything else :)


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