Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Where are the Pandas, Penguins and Polar Bears of Psalms?

In “The Identity of the Shafan and Arnevet” (Dialogue 2012), physicians Isaac Betech and Obadia Maya attempt to argue that the shafan of Tenach is the rabbit and not the hyrax. Their article is lengthy, includes a copious number of footnotes, and the authors claim to have corresponded with “the greatest specialists in the relevant disciplines.” Yet they fail to even mention, let alone address, the reason why virtually every scholar of Biblical zoology in the last century has agreed that the shafan cannot be the rabbit.

You can download my full response in PDF version at this link. I already sent it to Dialogue, but given the make-up of their rabbinic board (Rabbi Miller, Rabbi Feldman and Rabbi Meiselman), it seems unlikely, to say the least, that they would be open to dialogue. I asked the editor to notify me if they would consider it for publication, but I did not receive a reply. So I am making it available here; if you know any readers of Dialogue, please pass it on to them.



Meanwhile, my article about Mishpacha's take on charedim and the army is in the Jerusalem Post. You can see it online at this link (slightly expanded from the version that I originally posted here). If you have comments on it, please post them to the previous post, not this one.

376 comments:

  1. Why do I get the feeling that because you (RNS) maintain that the shafan is a hyrax that the idea of shafan=rabbit has become the "14th Principle of Faith" for your detractors?

    Otherwise, what on earth is the problem with people incorrectly identifying an animal? Why should this be such a hot-button issue? Aren't there plenty of animals whose identity is a machloket? Or forget about animals, the entire tradition is filled with arguments - which means that some opinions are necessarily wrong! And it doesn't make the person who's wrong any less "kadosh".

    Do we now have to say that both sides of every machloket are somehow "correct" in order to accord proper kavod and avoid being branded a heretic? Any of the rishonim in question here would of course say this is absurd! A true "gadol" is only too happy to admit they're wrong and go with a better answer, precisely because they don't take it as a slight on their kavod!

    ReplyDelete

  2. Excellent - you are asking the right question. Why is this so very important for my detractors? After all, you don't see them making a fuss about my identifying the tzvi as the gazelle!

    I'll tell you the answer. They are trying to make a particular interpretation of the Gemara, that these are the only four one-siman animals in the world, correct. They have a complicated (and incorrect) way of going about that, but one of the stages involves making sure that the shafan isn't the hyrax.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To enforce Athedox's point, note that Artscroll doesn't even translate animal names that are unknown, preferring to discuss them in the notes.

    As to R' Slifkin's point, by identifying it as a rabbit, they're ironically essentially reducing the total to three, as hares and rabbits are pretty much the same to anyone but scientists.

    ReplyDelete

  4. I'm sure that Betech will contrive a reason why rabbits and hares should be considered different types, while camels and llamas and vicunas should all be considered the same type (as will pigs and peccaries). If you're sufficiently determined to avoid reason, you can always make something up.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ashkenazim have no Mesorah for facts and logic.

    /tongue in cheek

    ReplyDelete
  6. R' Slifkin, I don't have your book on hand, but I don't think you mention this: Have you ever heard the cute bit (I think it was originally in a Chabad publication) that the three animals (Gamal, Shafan, Arnevet) are written in the Torah in the three tenses (past, present, future) and so refer to Bactrian camels (past, where Avraham came from), dromedaries (present, where Bnei Yisrael were) and llamas and relations (future, to be discovered after 1492)?

    I don't believe it's true, of course, but it's really cute. Does anyone else discuss why the three tenses are used?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yup, I've seen that. Malbim gives a different explanation; e.g. for the hyrax, Malbim says that the future tense means that it does not finish developing cloven hooves on its front feet, even though it looks as though it has started developing them on its hind feet. Of course we don't really know why the phrases are different.

    I once had a long argument with Rav Belsky, who (at the time) was convinced that the shafan was the llama, trying to persuade him that it's not reasonable to posit that a South American animal is discussed in Mishlei and Tehillim. I wasn't very successful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. B"H
    Dear Natan
    Please let me know if you are ready to discuss the contents of your letter.
    Yitzchak Betech

    ReplyDelete
  9. How is "shafan" future tense?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear Natan
    Please let me know if you are ready to discuss the contents of your letter.
    Yitzchak Betech


    Many people have said that they find discussions with you to be a complete waste of time; you manage to drag out such discussions for a long time, without ever either making points or responding to other peoples' points. Nevertheless, you are welcome to post comments that actually contain substance (and not just "where did I say xyz?" "I already said xyz").

    ReplyDelete
  11. How is "shafan" future tense?

    No, the reference is to "uparsa lo yafris"

    ReplyDelete
  12. > Do we now have to say that both sides of every machloket are somehow "correct" in order to accord proper kavod and avoid being branded a heretic?

    Yes. I had that exact conversation with someone not long ago. I gave up when I pointed out that for two people holding mutually exclusive positions to both be correct is logically impossible, and the other person responded that logic doesn’t apply.

    ReplyDelete
  13. R. Natan:
    Excuse me, in which date did you ask Dialogue Magazine editors to publish your letter?

    Boruch Gross

    ReplyDelete
  14. I read your response to Dialogue, my God you claim to know what went through King Davids mind 3000 years ago, you seem to know what went through a dead R Eliashivs mind half a year ago and today you seem afraid to enter debate with Betech cause "people say" he drags discussions out
    If thats rationalism then i'm running a mile

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excuse me, in which date did you ask Dialogue Magazine editors to publish your letter?
    Boruch Gross


    Two days ago. I know, it's foolish to expect that they would print it, seeing as their rabbinic board declared me a heretic whose views may not be heard. But I wanted to at least give them a chance to formally decline.
    By the way, your name rings a bell, where do I know it from?

    ReplyDelete
  16. G*3

    the other person responded that logic doesn’t apply

    Well, there's something to be said for clarity!

    ReplyDelete
  17. my God you claim to know what went through King Davids mind 3000 years ago

    Anytime someone gives peshat in a pasuk in Tehillim, they are claiming to know what went through his mind. Do you really think that Isaac Betech's claim is more reasonable than mine?

    you seem to know what went through a dead R Eliashivs mind half a year ago

    I'm sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    you seem afraid to enter debate with Betech

    Not afraid; he can post whatever arguments and data he has. I just longer have endless time to waste on such fruitless back-and-forths.

    cause "people say" he drags discussions out

    Take a look at http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.co.il/2010/11/first-of-all-natan-slifkin-accuses.html#comments and see for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  18. G*3 - the eilu v'eilu discussion is not relevant here. I certainly don't believe that there is even the slightest possibility that the shafan is the rabbit. And Betech, for all his posturing in his article about how his conclusions are "tentative, like all scientific conclusions," is not willing to concede that there is the slightest chance that the shafan is the hyrax. Because if he does, he will have to concede that ma'aleh gerah has a broader definition than he likes, which will in turn mean that there are more than four animals with one kosher sign, which will in turn mean that the Gemara, according to a simple understanding, is wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dear R. Natan,
    It seems to me that two days is not such a long time enough for taking decisions if publishing or not a letter on a Magazine as Dialogue.
    Regarding your question, I think I did not ever met you, sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's long enough to reply, "Thank you for your submission, we will consider it and respond."

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ah, now I remember where I know your name from! You're the guy who hacked into the mailing list of someone from Canada, in order to send everyone pro-Betech and anti-Slifkin PR!

    ReplyDelete
  22. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Since I do not know how to post footnotes on your blogspot, I will write bracketed sources instead of footnotes. If there is a way please let me know, I am ready to post again this comment.

    You wrote:
    But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby

    IB:
    There are some breeds of rabbits native to Egypt (which is very close to Eretz Yisrael). [http://www.raising-rabbits.com/breeds-of-rabbits.html accessed on 28/jul/11] [http://a egyptology.atspace.com/AEC%2010/index_files/Page360.htm accessed 28/jul/11]
    Among them the “Baladi” rabbit, which in Arabic means “native” rabbit [M.H. Khalil. “The Baladi Rabbits (Egypt)”. Department of Animal Production and Breeding, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. Rabbit genetic resources in Egypt. AGRI. 1999;26:95-11] and the “Sinai Gabali” rabbit [Iraqi M M. “Estimation of Genetic parameters for post-weaning growth traits of Gabali rabbits in Egypt”. Livestock Research for Rural Development. 2008. Volume 20, Article #69] which actually live in the Sinai and eastern and western deserts of Egypt and are raised by the Bedouins for their food. They are referred to by Mahmoud (1938) [Mahmoud, I.N. (1938). Bases of Veterinary Medicine, 2nd edn. Cairo University, Egypt (in Arabic). This source was taken from: “The Gabali Rabbits (Egypt)”. Afifi, E.A. Options Méditerranéennes. Série B: Etudes et Recherches. 2002;38:55-64] [http://www.iamz.ciheam.org/medrabbit/egypt/gabali/frame/description.htm accessed 28/jul/11] as native Egyptian rabbits.
    Rabbits were also found in excavations in the Negev [Theron Douglas Price, Anne Birgitte Gebauer. “Last hunters, first farmers: new perspectives on the prehistoric transition to agriculture”. School of American Research (Santa Fe, N.M.) School of American Research Press, 1995 - Technology & Engineering - 354 pages, page 61] and in Israel’s vicinity like Syria [Andrew M. T. Moore. “A Pre Neolithic Farmers' Village on the Euphrates”. Scientific American. 1979;241(8):62-70, page 66] and Turkey, [http://www.naturalsciences.be/common/pdf/science/aswa2011/aswa2011_abstracts.pdf accessed 17/oct/11] in allegedly ancient archeological sites.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ah, very good, you caught a small inaccuracy; I should just have written "there were not" rather than "there are not." Yes, there are Baladi rabbits. However, this does not help your case. First of all, these Baladi rabbits are European rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, that were introduced to Egypt at a later date. Second, and more fundamentally, these rabbits are diggers and tunnel-dwellers; they do not dwell in rocks, like the rock-rabbits of southern Africa and the hyrax.

    But does this mean that you are conceding that the shafan has to live in Israel? In your article, you didn't even mention this as an issue.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh, and regarding your other claims - there were no rabbits in Syria. Moore corrected it to "hares" in his later work. The reference to rabbits in the Negev is likewise a mistake in a second-hand reference. The original study was by Tchernov, who notes that the hare is "the only endemic species of lagomorph known from the Middle East since the Middle Pleistocene."

    ReplyDelete

  25. By the way, Isaac, even though I have shown that your citations are irrelevant or mistaken, I find it fascinating that you didn't even mention them in your original article, which had dozens of citations regarding far less pressing issues. (Did you spend the last few hours frantically Googling in order to find these?) In your article, you claim to have spent twenty years investigating this topic and conducting "field research." Yet it seems that you paid no attention to the issue of whether your shafan lived in Eretz Yisrael!

    ReplyDelete

  26. To those readers who may be taken aback at my tone with Isaac Betech: Please note that this is a person who, by his own admission, was instrumental in getting several Gedolim to sign a letter of condemnation against my books. According to someone in Mexico who wants to translate my books into Spanish, he would be unable to distribute them in bookstores due to Dr. Betech's opposition.

    And this is quite aside from his antics on the internet. My readers observed that Dr. Betech “consistently misrepresents and distorts facts, in addition to avoiding answering pointed questions”; that he “claims to have proved things, when he hasn’t proved them;” that he is
    “seemingly full of temimus and yashrus on the surface, but in fact full of posturing and dishonesty”; and that “he has been deceptive time and time again… he continuously made statements that
    misrepresented the facts and made claims that distorted the truth… attempts at dialog with someone
    who has proved to be dishonorable, disingenuous and deceptive and whose aim is clearly to hurt you, is
    a mistake and something which should be avoided.” So, I don't have much patience for him.

    ReplyDelete
  27. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Thank you for your prompt answer, please see below my interspersed comments.

    NS originally wrote:
    But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby

    NS then wrote:
    Ah, very good, you caught a small inaccuracy; I should just have written "there were not" rather than "there are not." Yes, there are Baladi rabbits. However…

    1.1 IB:
    Sorry, but I say: rabbits live and have lived in Eretz Yisrael and nearby.
    So I think that what you wrote in your letter to Dialogue is a big inaccuracy.

    NS wrote:
    Yes, there are Baladi rabbits. However, this does not help your case. First of all, these Baladi rabbits are European rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, that were introduced to Egypt at a later date.

    1.2 IB:
    As I wrote previously: There are some breeds of rabbits native to Egypt… I supported my statement that they are native with six sources.
    You claim that they were introduced to Egypt at a later date.
    I ask you to please specify on which date and please support it with sources.

    1.3 IB:
    In this comment you ignored what I added regarding Negev, Syria and Turkey, so B”N it will be addressed later.

    NS wrote:
    Second, and more fundamentally, these rabbits are diggers and tunnel-dwellers; they do not dwell in rocks, like the rock-rabbits of southern Africa and the hyrax.

    1.4 IB:
    Dwelling in rocks is circumstantial and behavioral. Indeed, since we find that certain types of rabbits look for shelter in rocky areas, we can assume that other types of rabbits in different geographical zones are also able to do the same in case of need, depending on the changing predatory menace present in a specific time and place, or other ecological variations.

    NS wrote:
    But does this mean that you are conceding that the shafan has to live in Israel?

    1.5 IB:
    No.

    NS wrote:
    In your article, you didn't even mention this as an issue.

    1.6 IB:
    As you read in page 105 of Dialogue Magazine, Dialogue article is a summary of selected chapters of a forthcoming book, The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am torn between believing that Betech is either someone so taken with his (mistaken) belief that those whose interpretation of the torah he follows are beyond error and repproach that any device to smear or tar their oppositin is permitted in order to advance their agenda, or is he really a deeply distrubed and disengenuous person who is a pathological liar and uses his (presumed) public image of piety (always starting his letter BH (baruch Hashem) and stated desire to find the truth as a method of self aggrandizement. I am inclined to think the latter.

    ReplyDelete
  29. There are some breeds of rabbits native to Egypt… I supported my statement that they are native with six sources.

    And I can give you plenty of sources that I am a native Englishman. For the last three generations!

    But since you like sources:
    "Oryctolagus cuniculus, also called a European, an Old World, or a domestic rabbit, is the only species in its genus. The last Ice Age confined the species to the Iberian peninsula and small areas of France and northwest Africa, but due to human action and adaptability of this species, European rabbits today exist in the wild on every continent except Asia and Antarctica."
    (from http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Oryctolagus_cuniculus.html)

    If you want to say that they were already released and established in Egypt in Biblical times, the onus of proof is on you. Then, of course, you also have to bring evidence that they were in Israel.

    Dwelling in rocks is circumstantial and behavioral. Indeed, since we find that certain types of rabbits look for shelter in rocky areas, we can assume that other types of rabbits in different geographical zones are also able to do the same in case of need

    From the aforementioned source:

    "The preferred habitats of this species include dry areas near sea level with soft, sandy soil (for easy burrowing)."

    Which makes it further unlikely that they ever lived in the rocks near the ibex in Israel.

    As you read in page 105 of Dialogue Magazine, Dialogue article is a summary of selected chapters of a forthcoming book, The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan.

    Are you claiming that these sources were mentioned elsewhere in your manuscript?

    ReplyDelete

  30. B”H
    Dear Natan

    NS wrote:
    …there were no rabbits in Syria. Moore corrected it to "hares" in his later work.

    2.1 IB:
    Please provide the source.

    NS wrote:
    The reference to rabbits in the Negev is likewise a mistake in a second-hand reference. The original study was by Tchernov, who notes that the hare is "the only endemic species of lagomorph known from the Middle East since the Middle Pleistocene."

    2.2 IB:
    Please provide the source to Tchernov and page number of the primary source.

    2.3 IB:
    I would like to remind you that you have not commented yet on Turkey.

    ReplyDelete
  31. 2.1 IB:
    Please provide the source.


    It's in his book, Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra.

    Please provide the source to Tchernov

    "Lagomorph Remains at Prehistoric Sites in Israel and Southern Sinai."

    I would like to remind you that you have not commented yet on Turkey.

    You have not commented yet on how the existence of rabbits in Turkey is evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel.

    ReplyDelete

  32. By the way, Isaac, in your article, you write:

    "The authors have been investigating the subject for more than 20 years. In addition to researching the relevant Jewish and scientific literature, we have maintained a personal correspondence with the greatest specialists in the relevant disciplines, have attended professional conferences on these topics and conducted field research."

    In light of these claims, it is surprising that you are not familiar with the basic literature concerning the lagomorphs that are native to the area.

    ReplyDelete

  33. By the way, you didn't respond to my question: Were your sources mentioned elsewhere in your manuscript?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Rabbi Nathan, your previous 4 comments especially the last does you no good.
    Look, lets be open and mature about this debate. Betech refuted one comment of yours, he backed it up with good sources (if he just googled them it makes no difference to the actual debate)and anyone who is searching for the truth like myself will need to reconsider with his new evidence.
    I dont really care who wins the debate as I WANT THE TRUTH and any new evidence from either yourself or Betech will need to be examined carefully, so please dont get so panicky about Betech pulling you apart, he raises good points but throwing yourself into a tantrum makes you look weak

    ReplyDelete

  35. OK, if you think his sources are good, I invite you to check them out, along with the refutations that I provided.

    ReplyDelete
  36. if he just googled them it makes no difference to the actual debate

    In an ideal world, you would be correct. However, since he makes grandiose and extremely misleading claims about his expertise on this topic, it is indeed relevant.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Where can I obtain a copy of this "Dialogue?" Is it online? Bookstore?

    ReplyDelete
  38. It's not online. It's interesting speculate why that is.

    ReplyDelete
  39. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:

    If you want to say that they were already released and established in Egypt in Biblical times, the onus of proof is on you..


    3.1 IB:
    I already presented six sources supporting that there are some breeds of rabbits native to Egypt, then, since you claimed that they were introduced at a later date, above (on 1.2 IB) I presented the following questions:
    NS claims that “Baladi” and “Sinai Gabali” rabbits were introduced to Egypt at a later date.
    I ask you to please specify on which date and support it with sources.
    I am still waiting you to support what you wrote today at January 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    NS wrote:
    Then, of course, you also have to bring evidence that they were in Israel

    3.2 IB:
    No, I do not, since I was refuting what you published in your letter to Dialogue where you wrote:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”

    NS wrote:
    …"The preferred habitats of this species include dry areas near sea level with soft, sandy soil (for easy burrowing)."

    3.3 IB:
    This paragraph is related to what I wrote above (on 1.4 IB) and is not a refutation to it.

    NS wrote:
    Which makes it further unlikely that they ever lived in the rocks near the ibex in Israel.

    3.4 IB:
    Please provide a source stating that the shafan must live near the ibex.

    NS wrote:
    …Are you claiming that these sources were mentioned elsewhere in your manuscript?

    3.5 IB:
    This paragraph is related to what I wrote above (on 1.6 IB).
    What I am claiming is that the 300-pages-book includes much more information than the 14-pages-article on Dialogue.

    ReplyDelete
  40. This blogpost has info on Dialogue.

    link

    ReplyDelete

  41. I don't see any new information or new arguments in your long comment, or refutations of my refutations of your article, so I see no reason to respond. I will just elaborate on two small matters:

    1) Of course, if there is nowhere else to hide, an animal will hide under rocks. However, since the European rabbit is designed for digging and burrowing, this is why it does not live in habitats where it cannot do so. Conversely, the hyrax, also known as the rock hyrax, is specifically adapted for hiding under rocks and only lives in such terrain.

    2) Earlier, I said "In your article, you didn't even mention this as an issue." You responded that your book is much longer. But apparently, this was deliberately misleading, because when I asked if you indeed mentioned this issue in your book, you refused to say "yes," and instead reiterated that your book is much longer. This kind of deceit and avoiding direct statements is why people are not interested in having debates with Isaac Betech.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "{Dialogue is] not online. It's interesting speculate why that is."

    Ostensible reason: Because the internet is assur

    Real reason: Because the point is to stifle dialogue not encourage it.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This blogpost has info on Dialogue.

    link

    ReplyDelete
  44. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    2.1 IB: Please provide the source.
    It's in his book, Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra.

    4.1 IB:
    I originally wrote:
    Rabbits were also found in excavations in the Negev and in Israel’s vicinity like Syria.
    And I supported it with:
    Andrew M. T. Moore. “A Pre Neolithic Farmers' Village on the Euphrates”. Scientific American. 1979;241(8):62-70, page 66
    You then claimed that Moore corrected it to "hares" in his later work.
    On 2.1 IB, I asked for a source, and now you write:
    It's in his book, Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra.

    Please tell me on which page number he corrected his previous publication.

    NS wrote:
    Please provide the source to Tchernov
    "Lagomorph Remains at Prehistoric Sites in Israel and Southern Sinai."

    4.2 IB:
    On (2.2 IB) I wrote Please provide the source to Tchernov and page number of the primary source.

    You have not answered, sorry.

    NS wrote:
    …You have not commented yet on how the existence of rabbits in Turkey is evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel.

    4.3 IB:
    No, rabbits in Turkey are not evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel, but I wrote this as a refutation to the original claim, you posted today stating:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”

    ReplyDelete

  45. I am sure that a scholar such as yourself will have no difficulty locating the relevant pages. You can just use Google. Besides, Tchernov especially is a source that you should be (or: have been) thoroughly familiar with.

    I'm glad that you agree that rabbits in Turkey are not relevant to claims about rabbits in Israel. But if so, I'm not sure why you mentioned it in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  46. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    I don't see any new information or new arguments in your long comment, or refutations of my refutations of your article, so I see no reason to respond. I will just elaborate on two small matters:

    5.1 IB:
    Sorry but I do not know where you did not find new information. If you would add numbering to the paragraphs you are writing, or if you identify the paragraph number you are answering, it would be easier.

    NS wrote:
    1) Of course, if there is nowhere else to hide, an animal will hide under rocks. However, since the European rabbit is designed for digging and burrowing, this is why it does not live in habitats where it cannot do so. Conversely, the hyrax, also known as the rock hyrax, is specifically adapted for hiding under rocks and only lives in such terrain.

    5.2 IB:
    Of course any rock-hiding-animal is not automatically a candidate for being the biblical shafan.
    The hyrax does not fulfill even biblical requirements for being the shafan.
    But I will leave this for a new comment thread, since this comment thread is just analyzing if you were right or wrong when you published today the following:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”


    NS wrote:
    2) Earlier, I said "In your article, you didn't even mention this as an issue." You responded that your book is much longer. But apparently, this was deliberately misleading, because when I asked if you indeed mentioned this issue in your book, you refused to say "yes," and instead reiterated that your book is much longer. This kind of deceit and avoiding direct statements is why people are not interested in having debates with Isaac Betech.

    5.3 IB:
    Dear Natan, please forgive me, it was not my intention to deliberately mislead anyone, please judge me favorably, it could be the result of:
    a) I did not understand to what issue you were referring, since you do not number your paragraphs, or
    b) My poor command on English language, as you remember English is my third language.
    Sorry again!

    ReplyDelete
  47. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    I am sure that a scholar such as yourself will have no difficulty locating the relevant pages. You can just use Google. Besides, Tchernov especially is a source that you should be (or: have been) thoroughly familiar with.

    6.1 IB:
    Thank you for having me on high esteem, but in any intellectual discussion, the person which presents a source has the responsibility of providing the complete source.
    Still waiting.

    NS wrote:
    I'm glad that you agree that rabbits in Turkey are not relevant to claims about rabbits in Israel. But if so, I'm not sure why you mentioned it in the first place.

    6.2 IB:
    Please read again (4.3 IB) where I wrote:
    No, rabbits in Turkey are not evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel, but I wrote this as a refutation to the original claim, you posted today stating:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”

    ReplyDelete
  48. Ah, now I remember where I know your name from! You're the guy who hacked into the mailing list of someone from Canada, in order to send everyone pro-Betech and anti-Slifkin PR!

    Is this not lashon hora or revenge or both?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Mr. Betech:

    http://bit.ly/YgHuRW

    ReplyDelete

  50. Alex, that was the funniest thing ever!

    I'll tell why I didn't give him the precise reference. As your link demonstrates, it's incredibly easy to find. I wanted to demonstrate something that I have seen many times. If Isaac Betech was truly interested in relevant evidence, he'd have no difficult in finding the reference. But what he wants to do instead is to be able to say, "Slifkin claimed that there was evidence to contrary, but he was unable to present sources to back up his claim!"

    ReplyDelete
  51. My poor command on English language, as you remember English is my third language....

    Ha! I love how Betech throws in a gratuitous grammatical error that he never made before. He is a true master of obfuscation.

    ReplyDelete
  52. NS wrote:
    2) Earlier, I said "In your article, you didn't even mention this as an issue." You responded that your book is much longer. But apparently, this was deliberately misleading, because when I asked if you indeed mentioned this issue in your book, you refused to say "yes," and instead reiterated that your book is much longer. This kind of deceit and avoiding direct statements is why people are not interested in having debates with Isaac Betech.

    5.3 IB:
    Dear Natan, please forgive me, it was not my intention to deliberately mislead anyone, please judge me favorably, it could be the result of:
    a) I did not understand to what issue you were referring, since you do not number your paragraphs, or
    b) My poor command on English language, as you remember English is my third language.
    Sorry again!


    Okay Isaac, I will give you another chance to respond to my question. There are no numbers needed for my paragraphs, and I will use plain English:

    In your book, did you mention the sources that you cited in these comments regarding the alleged existence of the rabbit in the region of Israel?

    ReplyDelete
  53. NS wrote:
    I'm glad that you agree that rabbits in Turkey are not relevant to claims about rabbits in Israel. But if so, I'm not sure why you mentioned it in the first place.

    6.2 IB:
    Please read again (4.3 IB) where I wrote:
    No, rabbits in Turkey are not evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel, but I wrote this as a refutation to the original claim, you posted today stating:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”


    Ah, I see. So you are not interested in shedding light on the actual topic, just in scoring points by claiming an entirely irrelevant technical contradiction to what I wrote.

    ReplyDelete
  54. In case anyone is wondering whether I gave enough information for Dr. Betech to find Moore's correction of rabbits to hares - It's easy enough to find the book using the title alone, and then he just needs to look in the index. Betech knows how to find it, of course, but he's not interesting in seeking truth (contrary to Rav Belsky's description of him), just in scoring points.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Good Morning guys, i was up half the night checking out Betechs sources.
    RNS, i am not suggesting he has won over you, i also admire you for your extensive research into this subject the last decade, however perhaps you want to spend some more time formulating your answers to Betech when he posts, as coming with an open mind like myself, most of his sources definately are worth considering.
    And once more for your own good, dont act like a schoolboy every time he throws some new evidence at you. As a bystander, i can view this debate objectively and it makes you look weak, especially when it gets contrasted with Betechs response to you where he seems confident enough to stay calm and collected.

    ReplyDelete

  56. Thank you for your concern, but I don't think that I need to take any more time to formulate my responses; it's very easy to show that his sources are incorrect or irrelevant.

    I am sorry that you don't like my style, but perhaps you can just focus on the strength of the arguments. Or you can realize that Isaac Betech is not exactly an honorable opponent.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I have no opinion on the real definition of the shafan. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan says that it is the hyrax and that was always good enough for me (though growing up in New Zealand in the days before the internet, I didn't actually know what a hyrax is).

    I just wanted to explain and/or defend Rabbi Slifkin's style of writing to Dr Betech.
    As he explained at the beginning of these comments (and which I didn't know before) there is a long history of Dr Betech trying to harm Rabbi Slifkin. So perhaps Rabbi Slifkin is not entirely positive about Dr Betech (and I don't blame him).
    But more importantly, he is someone with whom it is impossible to have a rational debate. I don't know if it is because of language issues, or wonky thinking, or deliberate obfuscation, but if you follow any of his comments on any of the blogs, you will see that he never answers the pertinent questions. Occasionally he answers some side point, and pretends that he has dealt with the issues. Usually, though, his approach is simply to say either that he deals with that in his book (which has not yet been published - though he has been threatening us with his book for years already), or to start asking for sources (though you will notice that he almost never gives his own sources - they are also only available in the book).
    To have a dialogue with someone (pun intended) both sides have to agree to ground rules. What is the topic being discussed (in this case that the shafan cannot be the hyrax), and what qualifies as reasonable evidence for this (Torah, science, personal preference etc.). However, with consistency, Dr Betech refuses to deal with the topic (instead focussing on irrelevant tangents, such as whether there is evidence for rabbits in Turkey or Egypt) or with evidence (instead repeatedly asking for page numbers, or arguing about what he did or did not say).
    Very simply, unless Dr Betech can bring clear evidence (without paragraph numbers) showing that the shafan is definitely the rabbit, and not the hyrax (explaining why his reading of Rav Saadia is better than the traditional understanding) there is no point in debating.
    Therefore, the only way to deal with him is to be blunt and, unfortunately, rude.

    ReplyDelete
  58. There is a terrific discussion about the hyrax between Rabbi Josh Waxman, Dr Betech and others in the comments to this blogpost:

    http://parsha.blogspot.co.il/2011/08/daf-yomi-chullin-52a-do-hawks-martens.html

    ReplyDelete
  59. Nachum said:"Does anyone else discuss why the three tenses are used?"
    I remember reading an article of Rabbi Meir Lubin in a AOJS journal, who came to the conclusion that the three animals are camel/dromedary/llama, based on the three tenses of the verb יפריס in Parshas Shmini. For the שפן, it says יפריס, because Bnei Yisrael will be familiar with the animal later--when they get introduced to the llama. He then notes that in parshas Re'eh, all three animals appear with the verb appearing in past tense for all three animals--הפריסו, since Bnei Yisrael were already familiar with all three animals, since Moshe Rabbenu showed each animal to Bnei Yisrael as they were listed.

    I didn't buy Rabbi Slifkin's book yet, but I thought Rabbi Belsky wrote in an approbation that he originally favored Rabbi Lubin's interpretation, but then, after reading Rabbi Slifkin's explanation, was convinced that Rabbi Slifkin has the right identification of the animals.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Seems like Rav Belsky first liked Rav Lubin's idea, then when the Camel, the Hare, the Hyrax was published he preferred Rav Slifkin's idea, now he prefers Dr. Betech's... see this link



    http://www.tovnet.org/shafan/ShafanHaskamaRavYisroelBelsky19Tamuz5771.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  61. Yup. Unfortunately, Rav Belsky is fundamentally non-rationalist. See this post: http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/05/letter-to-rav-belsky.html

    ReplyDelete

  62. By the way, note how Rav Belsky is pleased that Betech's shafan matches the description given by the (French and Spanish) Rishonim!

    ReplyDelete
  63. Yehuda, you can just as easily say that the Jews in Egypt knew about camels and hares but not hyraxes, as those live in the Negev. By the time we get to Devarim, they'd been wandering through the Negev for almost forty years and would have gotten to know them.

    As I wrote above, the differences between past and present aren't so much a problem, although maybe hares and camels are more common in Egypt/Israel or something.

    ReplyDelete
  64. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Good morning.

    NS wrote to Alex:
    I'll tell why I didn't give him the precise reference…

    7.1 IB:
    I am glad you publicly acknowledge that you deliberately did not give me the required precise reference, and you present a speculative explanation. Nevertheless I have some facts:

    NS wrote (see above 2.2 IB)
    The reference to rabbits in the Negev is likewise a mistake in a second-hand reference. The original study was by Tchernov…
    When you finally published the source to Tchernow, everyone can see that it is a publication from year 2000, but my second-hand reference is from 1995…
    So you have a book on 1995 quoting an article on 2000!

    ReplyDelete

  65. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    In your book, did you mention the sources that you cited in these comments regarding the alleged existence of the rabbit in the region of Israel?

    8.1 IB:
    Yes.

    8.2 IB:
    As I wrote above (1.2 IB)
    I wrote: There are some breeds of rabbits native to Egypt… I supported my statement that they are native with six sources.
    You claim that they were introduced to Egypt at a later date.
    I ask you to please specify on which date and please support it with sources.

    ReplyDelete
  66. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    6.2 IB:
    Please read again (4.3 IB) where I wrote:
    No, rabbits in Turkey are not evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel, but I wrote this as a refutation to the original claim, you posted today stating:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”

    Ah, I see. So you are not interested in shedding light on the actual topic, just in scoring points by claiming an entirely irrelevant technical contradiction to what I wrote.


    9.1 IB:
    Please explain why you consider that the presence of rabbits in Turkey is irrelevant to our discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  67. When you finally published the source to Tchernow, everyone can see that it is a publication from year 2000, but my second-hand reference is from 1995…

    Isn't it better to have the most up-to-date research? Anyway, seeing as Tchernov's paper is more important than any of the other sources you cite, I hope that you will mention it in your book.

    ReplyDelete
  68. You claim that they were introduced to Egypt at a later date.
    I ask you to please specify on which date and please support it with sources.


    I already responded to that above, January 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM. Please do not re-submit questions that I have already responded to, unless you have an explanation as to why my response is inadequate.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Please explain why you consider that the presence of rabbits in Turkey is irrelevant to our discussion.

    For the reasons explained in my original article, linked in the post.

    ReplyDelete
  70. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    In case anyone is wondering whether I gave enough information for Dr. Betech to find Moore's correction of rabbits to hares - It's easy enough to find the book…

    10.1 IB:
    See above 2.1 IB.
    If Moore retracted himself from his original publication, I will be glad to make the proper emendations to my book, but please provide the precise reference and page number.
    My insistence that you have to provide the source is based in common sense and in what I wrote above on 7.1 IB

    ReplyDelete
  71. B”H
    Dear R. Sedley,

    RS wrote:
    … he never answers the pertinent questions…

    11.1 IB:
    Now that I see that you are connected to the Jewish blogosphera, let me remind you, that you have not answered my simple question I presented to you on January 24th:

    http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.mx/2013/01/lice-response-to-ns.html?showComment=1359044280953#c7621010899677691016

    ReplyDelete
  72. B"H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    … Isn't it better to have the most up-to-date research?...

    12.1 IB:
    Yes.
    This is related to 7.1 IB where I pointed your illogical statement that my 1995 book cited your paper dated on 2000.
    I suppose your silence on this means you acknowledge your mistake.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I wish people would not jump to conclusions, someone made a comment before that God is playing midda k'neged midda, as for years Rabbi Slifkin has been trying to show the innacuricies of Chazal, and now we are beginning seeing the innacuricies of his book by the evidence that Betech has brought to light.
    Hold your horses you Betech supporters, i agree Slifkin's theories do seem to be breaking apart, but i have known the Rabbi for many years and i assure you he will find a way out of the current mess.
    B'hatzlacha Rabbi,

    ReplyDelete

  74. Er, Eli4, I'm not sure what you're talking about. Betech hasn't shown any inaccuracies in my book at all; we haven't even been discussing my book. Instead, we've been discussing my refutation of his article, and the inaccuracies in the sources that Betech tried to bring in defense of his article.

    ReplyDelete
  75. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    IB to NS: You claim that they were introduced to Egypt at a later date.
    I ask you to please specify on which date and please support it with sources.

    I already responded to that above, January 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM. Please do not re-submit questions that I have already responded to, unless you have an explanation as to why my response is inadequate.


    13.1 IB:
    I read again what you wrote on January 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM
    The general description you presented regarding the distribution of rabbits is not enough to refute my six specific sources related to the existence of the native rabbit on Egypt.
    Native means native, if you claim otherwise please support it.

    13.2 IB:
    Even according to your unsupported claim, you have not specified yet on which date they were introduced to Egypt (and please support it with sources).

    ReplyDelete
  76. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    For the reasons explained in my original article, linked in the post.

    14.1 IB:
    I will appreciate very much if you can specify the dibur hamatchil of the pertinent paragraph.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Jeremy, Stanmore, UKJanuary 30, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    The sources that Dr Betech brings right at the beginning of this debate, regarding rabbits being found in Israel/Egypt, when you originally wrote your book The Hare, Hyrax & Camel did you know of those sources yet you felt they were not relevent, or have they just come to your attention now?

    ReplyDelete
  78. Cute! But he doesn't actually have any sources about rabbits being found in Israel, at all. He has a source about their being found in Egypt, in recent times. I did not know about it when I wrote my book, because I had no reason to research such a thing. It is Dr Betech who needs to find evidence that there were rabbits in Israel. Unfortunately for him, zooarcheologists state that there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Would the Bible be considered good enough evidence?

    ReplyDelete
  80. Of course. But it is precisely the meaning of the term shafan that is being discussed. Hence, it cannot be brought as evidence; that would be classic circular reasoning.

    ReplyDelete

  81. Jeremy, Eli4, Cute, and all the others who seem to think that Betech has a good case:

    Zooarcheologists state that the hare is "the only endemic species of lagomorph known from the Middle East since the Middle Pleistocene." (You can find Tchernov's paper linked above; it's also in the book "The Quaternary of Israel.")

    Do you, or do you not, consider that this strongly shows that there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel? I'm not asking whether it's vaguely possible that someone imported rabbits to Israel which escaped, took up a new habit of hiding in rocks, founded colonies, and disappeared without trace. I'm asking whether you think that, from a scientific standpoint, it is likely that there were rabbits in Biblical Israel, or strongly unlikely.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Nachum said:"note that Artscroll doesn't even translate animal names that are unknown, preferring to discuss them in the notes."

    I just checked Artscroll's Stone Chumash, and Shafan is translated "hyrax"--in the main text, not in the notes. You're right about the list of non-kosher birds, though--those are left transliterated.

    ReplyDelete
  83. 9.1 IB:
    Please explain why you consider that the presence of rabbits in Turkey is irrelevant to our discussion.


    R. Slifkin already answered that: "You have not commented yet on how the existence of rabbits in Turkey is evidence for the existence of rabbits in Israel." In other words, even if rabbits lived in Turkey in Biblical times, this would not constitute evidence that they lived in Israel.

    3.4 IB:
    Please provide a source stating that the shafan must live near the ibex.


    Did you read the article that you are commenting on? Here it is: 'when David HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech describe the habits of the shafan in the wild – e.g. “The high hills are for the ibex, the rocks are a refuge for the shefanim” (Tehillim 104:18) - they are clearly not describing the rabbits of southern Africa, which neither they nor their audience ever saw. ... When David HaMelech sang about the ibex that live on the high hills, and immediately follows this by saying that the rocks are a refuge for shefanim, he was describing the animal that lives in the immediate vicinity of ibex and hides in the rocks – the hyrax."

    I'm sure you that may answer something like: "this doesn't prove that they *must* live together; I asked for 'must'". The answer is that it is strong evidence, given that there is in fact a rock dwelling animal that lives there and who "are called by a variant of the name shafan in local Arabic dialects". If you are looking for *must* you are in the wrong business. Anyhow, if you are challenging the article, then read it and challenge it rather than asking R. Slifkin to repeat his arguments for you.

    ReplyDelete
  84. dr betech

    any comments on this

    'Excellent - you are asking the right question. Why is this so very important for my detractors? After all, you don't see them making a fuss about my identifying the tzvi as the gazelle!

    I'll tell you the answer. They are trying to make a particular interpretation of the Gemara, that these are the only four one-siman animals in the world, correct. They have a complicated (and incorrect) way of going about that, but one of the stages involves making sure that the shafan isn't the hyrax.'

    ReplyDelete
  85. A debate with Rabbi Betech! It's an inevitable train wreck but I just can't look away...

    It's clear that Dr. Betech has completely different logical framework than anything I have ever come across. I'm sure one day a grad student will have fun going through all of these communications and trying to synthesize it into an internally coherent system (although I don't think it'll ever compete with Brisk or Aristotle).

    ReplyDelete
  86. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Good morning.

    IB to NS: You claim that they were introduced to Egypt at a later date.
    I ask you to please specify on which date and please support it with sources.

    NS: I already responded to that above, January 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM. Please do not re-submit questions that I have already responded to, unless you have an explanation as to why my response is inadequate.

    15.1 IB:
    On 13.1 IB: and 13.2 IB, I followed your instructions, and explained why I think your response is inadequate, so I ask you to please answer what I wrote on 13.1 IB: and 13.2 IB

    ReplyDelete
  87. Yanai, You cannot face the evidence that Dr Betech has presented so instesd of offering in return anything smart you defame him. I would have thought intellectuals are above that.
    Why can you not be open minded and examine the new evidence and see where it leads you?
    Or is it perhaps if the shafan is indeed the rabbit, it follows and i dare say these next 3 words on this blog chazal were after all correct which follows that Natan Slifkin and his Bible Critisism agenda will go out the window???

    ReplyDelete
  88. Shneur Zalman, sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no new evidence. I refer you to my comment above: zooarcheologists state that the hare is "the only endemic species of lagomorph known from the Middle East since the Middle Pleistocene."

    ReplyDelete
  89. On 13.1 IB: and 13.2 IB, I followed your instructions, and explained why I think your response is inadequate,

    No, you did not.

    ReplyDelete
  90. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    On 13.1 IB: and 13.2 IB, I followed your instructions, and explained why I think your response is inadequate,

    No, you did not.

    16.1 IB:
    Please explain if:
    a) I did not follow your instructions.
    b) I did not explain why your response is inadequate.
    c) You do not accept my explanation.
    d) Something else, please explain

    ReplyDelete
  91. Based on the style of response, I wonder if the comments by Dr. Betech are actually automatically generated by a computer designed to pass the Turing Test. If so, it has failed.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Or is it perhaps if the shafan is indeed the rabbit, it follows and i dare say these next 3 words on this blog chazal were after all correct

    Chazal never said that Shafan means rabbit. Post-Chazal, Rav Saadiah Gaon says it's the hyrax. In this case, R. Slifkin is supporting a quite traditional interpretation. His opponents are the ones that are offering more novel interpretations.

    ReplyDelete
  93. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Thank you for your answer.

    NS wrote:
    IB - b

    17.1 IB:
    If I understand well, that means:
    b) I did not explain why your response is inadequate.

    In that case, B”H I will try again.
    1. I published an article on Dialogue about the shafan’s identity.
    2. You published in your blogspot a full response to it.
    3. I asked if you are ready to discuss the contents of your letter.
    4. You agreed.
    5. I decided to begin my response to your response by pointing to one of your published statements, i.e.
    6. “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”
    7. Since I think that the latter is not accurate, I posted a comment including nine sources, among them six supporting the existence of native rabbits in Egypt.
    8. In response you wrote:
    “…these Baladi rabbits are European rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, that were introduced to Egypt at a later date.”
    9. Then I asked:
    “… please specify on which date and please support it with sources.”
    10. And you responded on January 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM:
    And I can give you plenty of sources that I am a native Englishman. For the last three generations!
    But since you like sources:
    "Oryctolagus cuniculus, also called a European, an Old World, or a domestic rabbit, is the only species in its genus. The last Ice Age confined the species to the Iberian peninsula and small areas of France and northwest Africa, but due to human action and adaptability of this species, European rabbits today exist in the wild on every continent except Asia and Antarctica."
    (from http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Oryctolagus_cuniculus.html)
    If you want to say that they were already released and established in Egypt in Biblical times, the onus of proof is on you.

    11. Then I explained why I consider this as an inadequate answer, and wrote:
    13.1 IB:
    The general description you presented regarding the distribution of rabbits is not enough to refute my six specific sources related to the existence of the native rabbit on Egypt.
    Native means native, if you claim otherwise please support it.
    13.2 IB:
    Even according to your unsupported claim, you have not specified yet on which date they were introduced to Egypt (and please support it with sources).

    12. Now you tell me that:
    I did not explain why your response is inadequate.

    13. So I will try again B”H:
    I accept that the onus of proof is on me, so I have presented six sources (see above) which describe the Egyptian rabbit as native. Since “native” is the antonym of “immigrant”, then I think that a proof is presented.
    Although your source writes that rabbits were confined:
    “…to the Iberian peninsula and small areas of France and northwest Africa…”
    I think that a general statement like this is not enough to refute six specific sources that write otherwise.
    You have to explain where the mistake of these six sources is, or where is my misunderstanding of these six sources.
    Additionally, even if my six sources, or my understanding of them are faulty, you have to document when these rabbit migrated to Egypt.

    14. If my explanation is insufficient, please let me know why?

    ReplyDelete
  94. Although your source writes that rabbits were confined:
    “…to the Iberian peninsula and small areas of France and northwest Africa…”
    I think that a general statement like this is not enough to refute six specific sources that write otherwise.


    They do not write otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Jeremy, Stanmore, UKJanuary 31, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Rabbi Slifkin, i just want to say we are still behind you.
    Even if people (myself included)do not feel your theory with hyrax/rabbit is so solid anymore, you can still be proud of all your other works. Your books are truly amazing.
    Chazak chazak

    ReplyDelete
  96. Jeremy, please address my comment to you above. Here it is again, in brief:

    Zooarcheologists state that the hare is "the only endemic species of lagomorph known from the Middle East since the Middle Pleistocene." Do you, or do you not, consider that this strongly shows that there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel?

    ReplyDelete
  97. Isaac, you've already written hundreds of words on this comment thread, and most people think that you are wasting everyone's time. Please, no further comments unless you have something that clearly, succinctly and directly proves that rabbits lived in Biblical Israel, in contrast to Tchernov's 2000 statement that the hare is "the only endemic species of lagomorph known from the Middle East since the Middle Pleistocene." I am also going to insist that your comment is not abnormally long, as is your unique style.

    ReplyDelete
  98. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    … Please, no further comments unless you have something that clearly, succinctly and directly proves that rabbits lived in Biblical Israel, in contrast to Tchernov's 2000 statement…

    19.1 IB:
    Now you are making an “appeal to the authority” of Tchernov who is speaking not only about Israel but about the Middle East (exactly as you wrote: “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”)

    With my still un-refuted six sources I am not appealing to authority, but appealing to rational discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Sometimes, Isaac, you make me laugh. When you bring sources, you boast about having "scientific sources." When I bring sources, you dismiss me as "making appeals to authority"!

    Tchernov was indeed speaking about the entire Middle East (and the same information can be found in "The Quaternary of Israel"). The rabbits in Egypt were brought there from Spain. The date of this introduction to Egypt is unknown. It is also not especially relevant, since it is Egypt, not Israel.

    Please, no further comments unless you have something that clearly, succinctly and directly proves that rabbits lived in Biblical Israel, in contrast to the statements of zooarcheologists.

    ReplyDelete
  100. And this is why debates need moderators. IB wrote paragraphs after paragraphs focusing on the words "or anywhere nearby",which he believes includes Egypt and Turkey. NS should explain how much importance, if any, does he give to those words, and whether they really include Egypt and Turkey.

    This is such a minor point it's hard to believe you can spend so much time discussing it.

    Questions for R'Dr. IB:

    1. Would you agree that rabbis and hares could theoretically be described by the Torah as same species? Y/N

    2. Would you agree that dromedaries, Bactrian camels, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos could theoretically be described by the Torah as same species? Y/N

    3. If the answers to 1. and 2. above differ, please explain.

    ReplyDelete
  101. I understand there is a time when a debate gets to lengthy and you need to bring it to its end, but grinding it to a halt just when you have some tough questions to answer or to deal with refutations that the opposing side has shown, comes over as putting your head in the sand.
    Isaac Betech has brought up some fair points. He did this in a mature way and used polite language. You on the other hand did not exactly speak of him in most diplomatic terms and portrayed yourself as if you were threatened.
    Please rabbi for the sake of the many thinking people out there who want to know the truth, answer his questions, refute his sources and then we can move on

    ReplyDelete
  102. Saul (who seems to be constantly posting under different names) - You are quite right. Grinding it to a halt just when one has some tough questions to answer or to deal with refutations that the opposing side has shown, comes over as putting one's head in the sand.

    However, that is not what happened. Betech has provided neither tough questions nor refutations. Instead, I have brought an unambiguous, authoritative source that there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel. Neither Dr. Betech, nor you, nor Eli4, nor Jeremy, nor Eli Benaim have been able to respond to this.

    Incidentally, although you describe Betech as discussing things in a fair way, everyone else here thinks the opposite.

    Please Saul, Eli, whoever, for sake of the many thinking people here, either refute my sources or let us move on. Constantly pretending that Betech has the upper hand looks pathetic. Please, no further comments unless you can directly respond to the key, crucial point: That there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  103. IB wrote paragraphs after paragraphs focusing on the words "or anywhere nearby",which he believes includes Egypt and Turkey. NS should explain how much importance, if any, does he give to those words, and whether they really include Egypt and Turkey.

    Very little. Obviously the fundamental issue is whether there were rabbits in Biblical Israel, not anywhere else. I only wrote "anywhere nearby" to make it even stronger. If someone could show that rabbits were native to, say, the Sinai and to Jordan, then you could speculate that perhaps they also lived in Israel and, albeit strangely, disappeared without trace. But it would still only be a speculation; it would not contradict the other lines of argument for the hyrax; and besides, Betech can't even show that. All that he can show is that, at some indeterminate point, European rabbits were introduced to Egypt. That is very, very, very far from giving reason to believe, let alone actual evidence, that they lived in Biblical Israel, three thousand years ago. There is thus zero evidence and no reason to believe that the rabbit lived in Biblical Israel. (Turkey is, of course, completely irrelevant.)

    This is such a minor point it's hard to believe you can spend so much time discussing it.

    Well, that's Betech's style for you. Picking on some incredibly minor and irrelevant aspect, and dragging it on forever with an alleged technical refutation that is itself very shaky. I'm surprised that he hasn't started up yet with arguing that rabbits are indeed found in Israel, in many pet stores.

    ReplyDelete
  104. Why do rabbits have to live in Eretz Yisrael for the Torah to prohibit them? If the Torah is timeless, and there were to be many exiles, why not prohibit something they may have been familiar with in Egypt, or would become familiar with in their journey through the centuries?

    ReplyDelete
  105. B”H
    Dear Natan:
    Good morning.
    I think there is no need by now to discuss this issue further, the public can evaluate how solid the information each of us presented is. Meanwhile I will go to another question related to your letter to Dialogue.

    NS wrote:
    “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication”

    20.1 IB:
    Could you please provide the sources supporting that?

    ReplyDelete
  106. Yanai, You cannot face the evidence that Dr Betech has presented so instesd of offering in return anything smart you defame him. I would have thought intellectuals are above that. Why can you not be open minded and examine the new evidence and see where it leads you?

    I claim to be neither an intellectual nor and expert, and am reading to absorb the debate with a reasonably open mind. It's not that I can't face the evidence - I can't parse it. The problem is that I (and many others) are consistently completely flummoxed with the rules of engagement under which Dr Betech operates. It's not that I disagree with his evidence or arguments, it's that I usually have no clue what he is getting at, what point he (thinks) he is addressing, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  107. B”H
    Dear Shimon S

    You wrote:
    Questions for R' Dr. IB:

    1. Would you agree that rabbits and hares could theoretically be described by the Torah as same species? Y/N

    2. Would you agree that dromedaries, Bactrian camels, llamas, alpacas, vicuסas, and guanacos could theoretically be described by the Torah as same species? Y/N

    3. If the answers to 1. and 2. above differ, please explain.

    21.1 IB:
    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. As per your request, by now, no explanation needed to this point.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Why do rabbits have to live in Eretz Yisrael for the Torah to prohibit them?

    The main point is that the shafan is mentioned in Tehillim and Psalms. So it was an animal that was familiar to them.

    ReplyDelete
  109. IB: I think there is no need by now to discuss this issue further,

    Right. Because I've quoted zooarcheologists who state that were no rabbits in Biblical Israel, and you have no evidence to the contrary.

    ReplyDelete
  110. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    IB: I think there is no need by now to discuss this issue further,

    Right. Because I've quoted zooarcheologists who state that were no rabbits in Biblical Israel, and you have no evidence to the contrary.

    21.1 IB:
    Since you want to continue with this comment thread before discussing other inaccuracies in your letter to Dialogue magazine, let me remind you two points.

    a) This comment thread had one and only departing mistaken statement you made, i.e.
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”.

    b) You have not answered yet my following questions/comments:
    1.1 IB:
    1.2 IB:
    3.4 IB:
    4.1 IB:
    7.1 IB:
    9.1 IB:
    12.1 IB:
    13.1 IB:
    13.2 IB:
    14.1 IB:
    17.1 IB:
    18.1 IB:
    19.1 IB:

    Since you want to continue with this comment thread before discussing other inaccuracies in your letter to Dialogue magazine, please provide a systematic answer to all of them.

    ReplyDelete
  111. LOL at "Saul Lustington" (Really? That's the name you came up with? Lustington?!) aka "Winston." You will not escape my troll-detection technology, sir. The only question remaining in my mind is whether you are Sir Isaac Betech himself (or one of his fellow blogger-rabbi Slifkin bashers). I'm sure that someone more computer-savvy than me could figure that part out.

    I await good news.

    ReplyDelete
  112. Is this Dr. Betech even a real person? He seems more like your doppelganger, Rabbi, as if we are living in a world of superheroes where you are "Superman" and Dr. B. is your arch-nemesis, who constantly pops up trying to defeat you with the same tactics each time.

    (This was a just random comment based on this lengthy back-and-forth between you and him).

    Very tickled,
    M. Singer

    ReplyDelete
  113. My own summary, based on this annoyingly lengthy back-and-forth.

    * The pasuk in Tehillim and in Mishlei describe the location and behavior of the shafan, matching the location and behavior of the hyrax, rather than rabbit.

    * There is a species of rock-rabbit that lives in southern Africa, which has similar behavior.

    * But these rock-rabbits don't live in Ein Gedi next to ibexes, nor in Eretz Yisrael, and indeed, in the general area of Eretz Yisrael, rabbits (in general, not just this specific rock-rabbit species) did not live, in Biblical times.

    * Rabbi Sliflin somewhat overstated the case by saying no rabbits exist now or in the past in E"Y or any surrounding area to E"Y. However, at present, in Egypt, rather than Ein Gedi, at some point some European rabbits were brought in.

    * Dr. Betech cited six articles to show rabbits in E"Y and the surrounding areas.

    * In terms of the ones purportedly in E"Y (Negev, Sinai), Rabbi Slifkin pointed out that these were erroneous references to rabbits, and either based on earlier or later literature, it should say "hares" (which would then match arneves rather than shafan). And that those who are knowledgeable of the subject are well aware of this. In terms of the one in Egypt (rather than Ein Gedi), it is a transported species, and given a statement by zooarcheologists that there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel, it would indeed appear that at the time of composition of Mishlei / Tehillim, they didn't exist either.

    * Dr. Betech and his supporter(s) ignore the refutations and are playing technical games as to what article says what when, or call scientific citations "appeals to authority" in order to bolster the articles with mistaken reference to rabbits. Because the point is not to arrive at the truth but to win points. In terms of the Egyptian one, they make the counterpoint that, since one cannot point to a specific time that they were introduced, we must assume that they existed all the way back to Egypt in Biblical times (though that is still different from Biblical Israel and Biblical Ein Gedi). Presumably, the zooarcheologists have reason to state otherwise.

    In terms of continuing the "argument", I would recommend against it. All that can come of it is aggravation and opportunities for introducing confusion.

    ReplyDelete
  114. I would add one small point to R. Waxman's excellent summary: According to R. Slifkin, the Baladi rabbits found in modern day Egypt do not hide in rocks, so even had they been present in Biblical Israel, they don't match the description of the Shafan in Tanach. Therefore, the whole argument about whether they existed in Biblical Israel is a red herring.

    Dr. Betech, I would similarly urge to raise your other points if you have any, as this argument is tapped out, whether or not you are correct or not. It would probably help if you advanced a coherent theory or objection rather than asking a series of numbered questions that are exceeding hard to follow and relate to your thesis.

    ReplyDelete
  115. B”H

    IB:
    Dear Josh Waxman, Dear David Oshi:
    Good morning and thank you for your posts.
    As you may know, Natan had a very busy weekend.
    Today, I think he has not to lecture.
    So please, let’s give him chance to answer my posts dated February 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM (20.1 IB) and/or February 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM.

    ReplyDelete
  116. Dr. Betech: If the summary given by Rabbi Waxman and David Ohsie is accurate, then surely there is nothing left for Rabbi Slifkin to respond to. I, for one, have a very hard time following all your lengthy numbered points. Perhaps you could just summarize in two or three sentences what you disagree with in Rabbi Waxman's summary (if anything), and then we can see if there is any need for Rabbi Slifkin to respond.

    ReplyDelete
  117. B”H
    Dear Jewish Observer.
    Thank you for your post.
    If Natan thinks that the summary given by Rabbi Waxman and David Ohsie is accurate, let him state it, if not, let Natan write a new one (if he wants to do so).
    As you may know, Natan wrote a letter to Dialogue Magazine. Then he published that letter in his blogspost. Then he agreed to discuss with me the contents of his letter.
    If Natan does not want to continue this discussion, let him state it.
    Today, I think he does not have to lecture.
    So please, let’s give him an opportunity to answer my posts dated February 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM (20.1 IB) and/or February 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM.

    ReplyDelete

  118. (Yawn.) Yes, the summary given by Rabbi Waxman and David Ohsie is accurate.

    Here is an even shorter summary, which encapsulates the critical point in only seven words:

    There were no rabbits in Biblical Israel.

    This is the only significant issue here. And it is the agreed position of zooarcheologists. If you wish to challenge it, please present evidence against it. Otherwise, please stop wasting everyone's time.

    If Natan does not want to continue this discussion, let him state it.

    Isaac, that's funny. You are the one who wrote above as follows: "I think there is no need by now to discuss this issue further, the public can evaluate how solid the information each of us presented is." So you are the one who did not want to continue this discussion, presumably because you could not bring any evidence against the seven-word sentence above.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Dr. Betech: Now that R.Slifkin has expresed his view, do you agree with him that the summary of R. Waxman and David Oshie is accurate? If not, why not? And if it is accurate, then do you agree with Jewish Observer that R. Slifkin has nothing left to respond to? And if not, why not?

    Lawrence Kaplan

    ReplyDelete
  120. My personal opinion/suggestion: Despite the tediousness of the exchange, I did learn something from Dr. Betech's questions and R. Slifkin's answers. However, further pressing the point to expect one or other of the interlocutors to "concede" doesn't add anything of value (IMO).

    So I suggest that Dr. Betech and R. Slifkin (if they are willing) should implicitly agree to disagree by moving to the next point of disagreement, without attempting to get in the last word or wring a concession from the other. The observers of this thread don't need a concession by either party to exercise their judgement.

    ReplyDelete

  121. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    (Yawn.) Yes, the summary given by Rabbi Waxman and David Ohsie is accurate.

    22.1 IB:
    Thank you for clarifying your acceptance of that summary.

    22.2 IB:
    Your acceptance of the summary does not exempt you from answering my posts dated February 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM (20.1 IB) and/or February 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM.

    22.3 IB:
    After your acceptance of this summary, in any future reference to it, I will simply write “NS wrote…”

    NS wrote:
    * The pasuk in Tehillim and in Mishlei describe the location and behavior of the shafan, matching the location and behavior of the hyrax, rather than rabbit.

    22.4 IB:
    This comment is unrelated to the issue of this comment thread, i.e. the mistaken statement made by NS: “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”.
    Nevertheless it could be analyzed later, when open issues will be concluded.

    NS wrote:
    * There is a species of rock-rabbit that lives in southern Africa, which has similar behavior.

    22.5 IB:
    Same as 22.4 IB

    NS wrote:
    * But these rock-rabbits don't live in Ein Gedi next to ibexes, nor in Eretz Yisrael, and indeed, in the general area of Eretz Yisrael, rabbits (in general, not just this specific rock-rabbit species) did not live, in Biblical times.

    22.6 IB:
    I do not know any Jewish classic source that requires that a rock-rabbit should live:
    a) in Ein Gedi
    b) next to ibexes
    c) in Eretz Yisrael.
    If you know any, please let me know, otherwise this comment is irrelevant.

    NS wrote:
    * Rabbi Sliflin somewhat overstated the case by saying no rabbits exist now or in the past in E"Y or any surrounding area to E"Y…

    22.7 IB:
    Although it deserves to be more emphatic, like: “Rabbi Slifkin made a mistake by saying no rabbits exist now or in the past in E"Y or any surrounding area to E"Y…” nevertheless by know it is a good admission by NS.

    NS wrote:
    * … However, at present, in Egypt, rather than Ein Gedi, at some point some European rabbits were brought in.

    22.8 IB:
    Although is also a good admission by NS, that indeed there are rabbits in Egypt, nevertheless “at some point…” is too ambiguous, please specify.

    NS wrote:
    * Dr. Betech cited six articles to show rabbits in E"Y and the surrounding areas.

    22.9 IB:
    No, I cited nine.

    Continue in the next comment

    ReplyDelete
  122. Continuation from the previous comment.

    NS wrote:
    * In terms of the ones purportedly in E"Y (Negev, Sinai), Rabbi Slifkin pointed out that these were erroneous references to rabbits, and either based on earlier or later literature, it should say "hares" (which would then match arneves rather than shafan). And that those who are knowledgeable of the subject are well aware of this.

    22.10 IB:
    A precise source supporting the words “erroneous references” has not been presented.

    NS wrote:
    In terms of the one in Egypt (rather than Ein Gedi), it is a transported species, and given a statement by zooarcheologists that there were no rabbits in Biblical Israel, it would indeed appear that at the time of composition of Mishlei / Tehillim, they didn't exist either.

    22.11 IB:
    So far you have not defined when they were transported, thus this speculation remains unsupported.

    NS wrote:
    * Dr. Betech and his supporter(s) ignore the refutations and are playing technical games as to what article says what when, or call scientific citations "appeals to authority" in order to bolster the articles with mistaken reference to rabbits.

    22.12 IB:
    If Tchernov (the authority quoted by NS) says that there were no rabbits in the Middle East and the sources I presented say that there were, since you have not explained why my sources are inadequate, then you are only appealing to the authority of Tchernov.

    NS wrote:
    Because the point is not to arrive at the truth but to win points.

    22.13 IB:
    I publicly state that I want B”H to arrive at the truth, which in this issue means, either:
    a) The hyrax is the Biblical shafan, or at least a reasonable candidate.
    b) The rabbit is the Biblical shafan, or at least a reasonable candidate.
    c) None of the above.

    NS wrote:
    In terms of the Egyptian one, they make the counterpoint that, since one cannot point to a specific time that they were introduced, we must assume that they existed all the way back to Egypt in Biblical times (though that is still different from Biblical Israel and Biblical Ein Gedi). Presumably, the zooarcheologists have reason to state otherwise.

    22.14 IB:
    Again an appeal to the authority of zooarcheologists, because you have not explained their supposed reasons.


    NS wrote:
    Here is an even shorter summary, which encapsulates the critical point in only seven words:
    There were no rabbits in Biblical Israel.
    This is the only significant issue here. And it is the agreed position of zooarcheologists. If you wish to challenge it, please present evidence against it. Otherwise, please stop wasting everyone's time.


    22.15 IB:
    Same as 22.4 IB

    NS wrote:
    If Natan does not want to continue this discussion, let him state it.

    Isaac, that's funny. You are the one who wrote above as follows: "I think there is no need by now to discuss this issue further, the public can evaluate how solid the information each of us presented is."
    So you are the one who did not want to continue this discussion, presumably because you could not bring any evidence against the seven-word sentence above.

    22.16 IB:
    I want to continue, B”H
    From your last paragraph I understand that you also want to continue, so please provide a systematic answer to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
  123. Isaac, please rate the following in order of importance:

    A) Whether there were rabbits in Biblical Israel.

    B) Whether there were ever rabbits in Egypt.

    ReplyDelete
  124. B”H
    Dear Lawrence Kaplan

    You wrote
    Dr. Betech: Now that R.Slifkin has expresed his view, do you agree with him that the summary of R. Waxman and David Oshie is accurate? If not, why not?...

    IB:
    I followed your suggestion and explained “why” I do not agree with the summary.
    I expect the same from NS.

    ReplyDelete
  125. This whole discussion is truly getting ridiculous. Can I try (please) to see whether there is any point in continuing:

    DS 1.1. Dr Betech: If it could be demonstrated (to your satisfaction) that there were no rabbits in Israel in the Biblical period, would you retract what you wrote in the Dialogue article?

    1.2 If yes, what would constitute a demonstration (to your satisfaction)?

    1.3. If no, can we please just end this discussion now.

    ReplyDelete
  126. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Good morning.

    NS wrote:
    Isaac, please rate the following in order of importance:…

    23.1 IB:
    Same as 22.4 IB
    Same as 22.2 IB

    ReplyDelete
  127. B”H
    Dear R. Sedley

    DS 1.1. wrote
    Dr Betech: If it could be demonstrated (to your satisfaction) that there were no rabbits in Israel in the Biblical period, would you retract what you wrote in the Dialogue article?

    24.1 IB:
    Please see above 1.5 IB:

    DS 1.2. wrote:
    If yes, what would constitute a demonstration (to your satisfaction)?

    24.2 IB:
    I would retract what I wrote in the Dialogue article if it would be demonstrated that the rabbit is incompatible with any of the signs the Written or Oral Torah wrote identifying the Biblical shafan (Dialogue article, from page 107).

    24.3 IB:
    Dear R Sedley, you have not answered many comments I wrote to you in my blogspot.

    ReplyDelete
  128. Dear Dr Betech

    I honestly don't know why I bother, because you are such a frustrating person. But, I'll summarize your answer:
    Even a simple "yes" or "no" is too difficult for you.
    And there is no specific evidence or proof that would make you change your mind about the shafan.
    So let's just all give up and go home shall we.
    And btw, I am not sure why you are discussing comments on other blogs here, or why you think I am obligated to answer your questions. Especially when you can't even answer a simple yes/no question that I have asked you here.

    ReplyDelete
  129. B”H
    Dear R Sedley

    You wrote:
    And there is no specific evidence or proof that would make you change your mind about the shafan.

    25.1 IB:
    I will answer again:
    I would retract what I wrote in the Dialogue article if it would be demonstrated that the rabbit is incompatible with any of the signs the Written or Oral Torah wrote identifying the Biblical shafan (Dialogue article, from page 107).

    If you think I have not defined yet which “specific evidence or proof would make me change my mind about the shafan”, please explain what I am missing.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Dear Dr Betech

    You have simply restated your hypothesis. However, the accepted test of the value of a hypothesis in the modern scientific world is falsifiability. This would be a specific outcome predicted by the hypothesis.
    In our discussion, your hypothesis is that that the Biblical shafan is the modern rabbit. Examples of claims which would falsify your hypothesis are the following:

    If it could be demonstrated that:
    a) the rabbit does not fulfil the biblical/talmudic criteria of maaleh gerah
    b) the rabbit was unknown to the intended audience of the Bible
    c) the rabbit does not (did not) live in Ein Gedi as described by Tehillim
    d) the rabbit does not (did not) sit on rocks as described by Tehillim
    e) the ancient world did not recognize the distinction between rabbit and hare (assuming that arnevet is hare)

    etc. These are examples. I am not sure if you consider that demonstrating any of these points would refute your claims, or whether you have other claims which are falsifiable.
    I am asking you to give one, or several, specific claims, which are potentially falsifiable, which would either prove or disprove your hypothesis.
    Preferably without reference to any other points you have made her or elsewhere, and preferably without numbered paragraphs. Can you do that?

    ReplyDelete
  131. Dr. Betech, I will preface my comments in reply to you with the initials SV.

    IB, you wrote this:

    "22.14 IB:
    Again an appeal to the authority of zooarcheologists, because you have not explained their supposed reasons."

    SV 1.1 Wait, wait, wait. What?
    Let's look at that again:

    "Again an appeal to the authority of zooarcheologists"

    SV 1.2 An appeal to the zooarcheologists? So the 9 sources you supposedly quoted is an appeal to whom? It's not an appeal?

    SV 1.2 corollary A - If citing sources and experts is out of bounds for Rabbi Slifkin (it shouldn't be out of bounds in any scholarly discussion), then it is equally out of bounds and "an offense" for you to do it! This is a pretty clear example of where you play word games and use semantics and one-upmanship to "score points" rather than debate the issues. This is just one example, but wow was it a whopper!

    ReplyDelete
  132. I would retract what I wrote in the Dialogue article if it would be demonstrated that the rabbit is incompatible with any of the signs the Written or Oral Torah wrote identifying the Biblical shafan (Dialogue article, from page 107).

    Dr. Betech, as I've stated before, I'm personally not interested in inducing you to retract your article. However, I would like to understand if you have any counter-argument to my understanding of R. Slifkin's thesis which I can summarize as follows:

    In Tanach, we find “The high hills are for the ibex, the rocks
    are a refuge for the shefanim” (Tehillim 104:18). This is evidence that the following is true of the Shafan: 1) It was present in Biblical Israel and thus known to the authors and readers of that verse; 2) it hides in rocks; 3) it might be found near the Ibex.

    The hyrax is present in Israel and was so Biblical times, hides in rocks, and is found near the Ibex.

    The rock-rabbit is not found anywhere near Israel and was likely never found there. Other rabbit species don't hide in rocks and are only found in modern times in places like Egypt.

    Therefore, this piece of evidence favors the identification of the Shafan with the Hyrax over the Rabbit.

    I'm not asking whether you think that Shafan is the Hyrax (I know that you don't), nor I am asking about other evidence which might overwhelm this bit of evidence and favor the Rabbit (e.g. I believe that you maintain that a Hyrax is not a ruminant according the Torah's definition).

    I'm just asking if you have anything that would undermine or disqualify this piece of evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  133. B”H
    Dear David Ohsie
    Thank you for your comment.

    You wrote:
    …I'm just asking if you have anything that would undermine or disqualify this piece of evidence.

    26.1 IB:
    Same as 22.4 IB

    26.2 IB:
    As you may know, Natan had a very busy schedule in USA.
    Today, I think he has no lecture.
    So please, let’s give him a chance to answer my posts dated:
    February 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM (20.1 IB) and/or
    February 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM, and/or
    February 5, 2013 at 1:07 AM (first and second part).

    ReplyDelete
  134. Isaac, I did not follow your answer to the following question that I asked earlier:

    Please rate the following in order of importance:
    A) Whether there were rabbits in Biblical Israel.
    B) Whether there were ever rabbits in Egypt.


    As you know I am busy with a lecture tour. I do not have time to wade through your lengthy comments nor to figure out your well-hidden meaning. Please just put the aforementioned issues in sequence: Either A, B or B, A.

    I will spell out why I am asking this question. You seem obsessed by my having effectively said that there are no rabbits anywhere near Israel today. I have already admitted that there are indeed rabbits in Egypt today. However, I see it as entirely irrelevant. The only issue that I see as important is whether there were rabbits in Biblical Israel. So why are you obsessing over rabbits in Egypt? Is it because you think that this shows that there were rabbits in Israel? Or do you agree that it does not show that, and you are just out to score points by stressing that I said something inaccurate - even though it is entirely irrelevant to the subject at hand, i.e. the identity of the shafan?

    Please answer the question directly. DO NOT just post references to numbered comments above. It is your responsibility to answer in a clear and direct fashion; it is not the responsibility of other people to engage in a homework assignment to figure out what you are trying to say. And it has led everyone to conclude that you are not interested in reaching truth, just in wasting people's time.

    ReplyDelete
  135. Dr. Betech,

    DO: …I'm just asking if you have anything that would undermine or disqualify this piece of evidence [R. Slifkin's main thesis]


    IB: This comment is unrelated to the issue of this comment thread, i.e. the mistaken statement made by NS: “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby”. Nevertheless it could be analyzed later, when open issues will be concluded.


    R. Slifkin already admitted a small error in that statement and has explained how this doesn't undermine his thesis. Now you are agreeing that the topic doesn't relate to his thesis.

    For this reason, I'm personally am not interested in the "conclusion" of that other discussion, but I'm quite interested in your thoughts on R. Slifkin's thesis. Could you consider posting these thoughts before the other discussion concludes? For your convenience, I'm repeating my question here in case you are willing to respond:

    In Tanach, we find “The high hills are for the ibex, the rocks
    are a refuge for the shefanim” (Tehillim 104:18). This is evidence that the following is true of the Shafan: 1) It was present in Biblical Israel and thus known to the authors and readers of that verse; 2) it hides in rocks; 3) it might be found near the Ibex.

    The hyrax is present in Israel and was so Biblical times, hides in rocks, and is found near the Ibex.

    The rock-rabbit is not found anywhere near Israel and was likely never found there. Other rabbit species don't hide in rocks and are only found in modern times in places like Egypt.

    Therefore, this piece of evidence favors the identification of the Shafan with the Hyrax over the Rabbit.

    I'm not asking whether you think that Shafan is the Hyrax (I know that you don't), nor I am asking about other evidence which might overwhelm this bit of evidence and favor the Rabbit (e.g. I believe that you maintain that a Hyrax is not a ruminant according the Torah's definition).

    I'm just asking if you have anything that would undermine or disqualify this piece of evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  136. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    27.1 IB:
    As per your suggestion I will try to answer “directly”.
    Thank for your comment and your partial admission “that there are indeed rabbits in Egypt today”.
    An admission that you immediately qualifyed as: “However, I see it as entirely irrelevant.”
    I agree with you that the presence of rabbits in Egypt today is entirely irrelevant, as is irrelevant the presence of rabbits in pet stores in any country, because they may have been introduced to that country just a few years ago.
    If you read again my original comment you will see that my emphasis was on:
    “There are some breeds of rabbits native to Egypt”.
    When you ignored the word “native”, I was forced to emphasize it again and wrote:
    “Native means native”.
    You also have admitted in this comment thread that “The date of this introduction to Egypt is unknown.”
    As stated in a previous comment, leshitati (according to my approach), the presence or absence of rabbits in the Biblical Israel or in the Biblical Middle East is irrelevant. (Leshitati: A = B).
    But leshitatcha (according to your approach), this point is relevant, since you decided that it is required for the Biblical shafan to be endemic to Eretz Yisrael, and you want to disqualify the rabbit as the Biblical shafan because you said in your letter to Dialogue that the rabbit is absent from Middle East.
    So leshitatcha, the presence or absence of rabbits in the Middle East is relevant. This is the reason I have insisted on this point, it is not an “obsession” as you have called it, but it is a challenge to your approach.
    I understand that you can say that you do not know when rabbits were introduced to Egypt, but in that case you have at least to define –and document- that they were introduced to Egypt “no earlier than X century”.
    If you fail to do that, you cannot rule out the rabbit as a candidate for being the Biblical shafan, for not being endemic to the Biblical Middle East.
    So please define in which period rabbits were introduce to the Middle East or admit that even leshitatcha the geographical distribution of the rabbit is not a problem.

    Then we could continue with the second question I presented related to your letter, i.e. sources supporting your statement:
    “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication”

    Then, B”H I will try to refute other arguments you presented in your letter.

    ReplyDelete
  137. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  138. Isaac, you write that according to your approach, the presence or absence of rabbits in the Biblical Israel or in the Biblical Middle East is irrelevant. This is the most extraordinary position; I hope that you make it clear in your book. So Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech described the natural habits of an animal that they never saw? Don't you think that that is even a teensy-weensy bit unreasonable?

    (Incidentally, rabbits are native to Egypt in the same way that I am native to England. Every single zooarcheological authority agrees that the rabbits of Egypt were introduced to there from Spain. If you claim otherwise, you are simply revealing your ignorance in this field. But in any case, Egypt is not Israel! So even if you could have to prove that the introduction to Egypt was as long as three millenia ago, this does not show that they were in Israel! I'm not sure why you seem to fail to grasp this.)

    ReplyDelete
  139. IB:
    I don't think Rabbi Slifkin should keep answering you, given your egregious conduct in the past as well as your general method of argumentation.

    In terms of "native":
    You write Among them the “Baladi” rabbit, which in Arabic means “native” rabbit [M.H. Khalil. “The Baladi Rabbits (Egypt)”.

    You further contrast these "native" rabbits with those which may have been introduced to that country just a few years ago.

    According to my (possibly flawed) understanding of the study in question (see this link), as well as according to this web site, "The Baladi is the result of attempts to create a heat-resistant rabbit for use as meat. It originates from Egypt, where native rabbits were crossed with Flemish Giants."

    In other words, they called it Baladi, which means "native" in Arabic. But that does not mean that they arose naturally, thousands of years ago.

    Neither I nor Rabbi Slifkin ignored the term "native", as you alleged. Native means that, at the present time, they are native species. Just as the Baladi rabbits are "native". And, to take Rabbi Slifkin's example, just as I am a native New Yorker.

    If zooarcheologists state that there were no rabbits in Egypt at time X; and yet there are rabbits in Egypt in time Y, then obviously they were introduced at time Z, between time X and Y. Even if I cannot pinpoint the precise year or century they were introduced, because I am not Hashem, with Omniscience, and not an expert in zooarchaelogy, or because it has not been covered with such precision, that does not mean that it was NOT introduced between time X and Y.

    This is one of your debating tactics. Frame it so that the other party must prove and document every detail, to the standards that you get to set, and if they have not done so, you can claim they haven't proven their case. That is why no one has ever proven evolution to you, or an earth more than 6000 years old.

    ReplyDelete
  140. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    28.1 IB:
    As per your suggestion I will try to answer “directly”.
    Thank you for your answer.
    Indeed in the book this subject is analyzed in Chapter 5(b).
    I agree that it is probable that the rabbits of Egypt were introduced to there from Spain, and probably the introduction was about three millennia ago.

    NS wrote:
    … So even if you could have to prove that the introduction to Egypt was as long as three millenia ago, this does not show that they were in Israel! I'm not sure why you seem to fail to grasp this…

    28.2 IB:
    The following answer is leshitatcha:
    a) Rabbit’s presence in Egypt is relevant, since Am Yisrael were there for about 200 years.
    b) Egypt is very close to Eretz Yisrael and they were connected by a common trade route.

    ReplyDelete
  141. Thank you for attempting to answer directly, but unfortunately, yet again, you did not manage to do so.

    Once again: You say that the presence or absence of the shafan in Biblical Israel or the Middle East is irrelevant. Why? If it was absent, how did Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech describe the natural habits of an animal that they never saw?

    Second question: Why is it "probable" that rabbits were introduced to Egypt three millennia ago?

    Third question: Do you have anything beyond sheer speculation to indicate that rabbits were brought to Israel?

    ReplyDelete
  142. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Thank you for your prompt answer. Now that you clearly stated your three questions, I hope to succeed in giving a “direct” answer.

    NS wrote:
    You say that the presence or absence of the shafan in Biblical Israel or the Middle East is irrelevant. Why? If it was absent, how did Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech describe the natural habits of an animal that they never saw?

    29.1 IB:
    According to Judaism, all the Bible books were written by Ruach Hakodesh (Divine inspiration) including Tehilim and Mishle.
    See for example Shemuel II, 23:2 (Targum, Rashi, Radak, Ralbag, Rabbi Yeshaya miTrani, etc.), Shir HaShirim Rabba 1:6.

    NS wrote:
    Second question: Why is it "probable" that rabbits were introduced to Egypt three millennia ago?

    29.2 IB:
    Because it could be similar to the following description:

    Oryctolagus cuniculus first arrived in Malta about 3600 years ago on the ships of the Phoenicians as they sailed eastwards from Spain. This assumption is based on the knowledge that it was the Phoenicians who discovered the wild rabbit in Spain, and that they made it a point to populate the islands along their routes with this self-replenishing supply of fresh meat so as to ensure regular provisions at strategic points in their travels.
    J. Gauci-Maistre. “Tax - Xiber - The indigenous rabbit of Malta”. CIHEAM - Options Mediterraneennes. 1999;41:183–7 Page 183

    NS wrote:
    Third question: Do you have anything beyond sheer speculation to indicate that rabbits were brought to Israel?

    29.3 IB:
    a) Even leshitatcha, it would be enough for me to present a plausible speculation to show that you do not have a dechiya muchrachat (definite refutation) to my position.

    b) Theron Douglas Price, Anne Birgitte Gebauer. “Last hunters, first farmers: new perspectives on the prehistoric transition to agriculture”. School of American Research (Santa Fe, N.M.) School of American Research Press, 1995 - Technology & Engineering - 354 pages, page 61
    Please see also page 93

    c) Please remember that anyway leshitati I do not need rabbits in Eretz Yisrael.

    Shabbat Shalom

    ReplyDelete
  143. According to Judaism, all the Bible books were written by Ruach Hakodesh (Divine inspiration) including Tehilim and Mishle.

    1. Where do you get the idea that this means that David HaMelech knew all the animals in the world?

    2. Rashi was also said to have written with "ruach hakodesh" - does this also mean that he knew every animal in the world?

    3. If David was not limited to describing animals in the region, why do all other references to animals in Tenach refer to animals in the region or that were familiar to people in the region?

    4. Do you have any evidence of Nach describing any other creature or phenomenon that was unknown to people in Biblical Israel?

    5. Even if it did mean that, how would anyone at the time know what he was talking about? Wouldn't it make more sense for him to describe animals that people were actually familiar with?

    Next: You have speculation that maybe the rabbit was brought to Egypt in antiquity, and maybe it was also brought to Israel - although there is no trace of any such thing. You think that this is enough to refute my objection. I beg to differ. It is extraordinarily unlikely that rabbits were brought to Biblical Israel. On the other hands, hyraxes live there in large numbers. Hence, it is overwhelmingly likely that David and Shlomo were speaking of hyraxes rather than rabbits. (This is quite aside from the fact that European rabbits live in burrows rather than hiding amongst rocks.)

    Finally: Your alleged source for rabbits in Israel was shown above to be wrong. They were quoting a 1993 paper by Tchernov which neither you nor I have seen. However, in a 2000 paper which we have both seen, Tchernov agreed with the zooarcheological consensus that there were no rabbits in Israel. So either Tchernov made a mistake (or mistranslated arnevet), or your source made a copying error.

    ReplyDelete

  144. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Thank you for your prompt answer, although it seems to me that you ignored some of the points in my last comment.

    NS wrote:
    1. Where do you get the idea that this means that David HaMelech knew all the animals in the world?

    30.1 IB:
    I did not say that.
    I do not know the extent of the zoological knowledge of David HaMelech, but Ruach HaKodesh at Bible-book-level is enough for describing certain aspects of an even unknown animal (if it would be the case).

    NS wrote:
    2. Rashi was also said to have written with "ruach hakodesh" - does this also mean that he knew every animal in the world?

    30.2 IB:
    I am not quoting Rashi in this comment thread.
    Also see what I wrote on 30.1 IB:

    NS wrote:
    3. If David was not limited to describing animals in the region, why do all other references to animals in Tenach refer to animals in the region or that were familiar to people in the region?

    30.3 IB:
    a) Even if it would be the case, this would be only a question, but not a refutation of my position.
    b) Giraffe, elephant or leviathan/whale, are animals in the region or that were familiar to people in the region?

    NS wrote:
    4. Do you have any evidence of Nach describing any other creature or phenomenon that was unknown to people in Biblical Israel?

    30.4 IB:
    Same answer as previous.

    NS wrote:
    5. Even if it did mean that, how would anyone at the time know what he was talking about? Wouldn't it make more sense for him to describe animals that people were actually familiar with?

    30.5 IB:
    Even if rabbits were absent in Eretz Yisrael in Biblical times, Am Yisrael may have been familiar with them in Egypt, or would become familiar with them in their journeys through the exile-long centuries.

    NS wrote:
    Next: You have speculation that maybe the rabbit was brought to Egypt in antiquity, and maybe it was also brought to Israel - although there is no trace of any such thing. You think that this is enough to refute my objection. I beg to differ. It is extraordinarily unlikely that rabbits were brought to Biblical Israel. On the other hands, hyraxes live there in large numbers. Hence, it is overwhelmingly likely that David and Shlomo were speaking of hyraxes rather than rabbits. (This is quite aside from the fact that European rabbits live in burrows rather than hiding amongst rocks.)
    30.6 IB:
    Dear Natan, in this point you are trying to arrive to conclusions on the identity of the biblical shafan, ignoring other questions against the hyrax that have not been discussed yet in this comment thread, so please wait.
    Besides that, here you are ignoring what I wrote on 29.3 IB: among other previous comments, so please wait.

    NS wrote:
    Finally: Your alleged source for rabbits in Israel was shown above to be wrong. They were quoting a 1993 paper by Tchernov which neither you nor I have seen. However, in a 2000 paper which we have both seen, Tchernov agreed with the zooarcheological consensus that there were no rabbits in Israel. So either Tchernov made a mistake (or mistranslated arnevet), or your source made a copying error.
    30.7 IB:
    a) You ignored what I wrote 29.3 IB: (b) Please see also page 93
    b) In Tchernov 2000 you now are omitting the word “endemic”.
    c) If you are now ready to suggest a mistranslation of arnevet = rabbit, then it could be suggested that all archeological references in Eretz Israel to “hares” could mean “rabbits”…

    Shabua tov

    ReplyDelete
  145. Ruach HaKodesh at Bible-book-level is enough for describing certain aspects of an even unknown animal

    Please supply evidence for that.

    I am not quoting Rashi in this comment thread.

    It is extremely relevant. Rashi is likewise said to have been written with ruach hakodesh. And yet Rashi can demonstrably be shown to have been rated as unaware of various animals/plants in remote locations. So please state whether you accept that Rashi was written with ruach hakodesh.

    Giraffe, elephant or leviathan/whale, are animals in the region or that were familiar to people in the region?

    Yes, absolutely! (though there is no evidence that giraffes are in Tanach.)

    If you are now ready to suggest a mistranslation of arnevet = rabbit, then it could be suggested that all archeological references in Eretz Israel to “hares” could mean “rabbits”…

    I can't decide if you are being serious. I am proposing correcting a single error to bring it in line with all other evidence/ opinions. You are proposing correcting all other evidence/ opinions to bring them all in line with a single statement!

    There is one question that you raised earlier that I forgot to address. You asked why the shafan has to live next to the ibex. In Borchi Nafshi this morning, we have the passuk, "The high hills are for the ibex, the rocks are a hiding place for the shefanim." As I have written on many occasions, it is extremely reasonable to propose that there is a connection between the two parts of the verse. Do you deny that this is reasonable? And, given that there is presumably a connection, and given that there are indeed animals that hide in the rocks right amongst the ibex, is it not very, very reasonable to presume that these are the animals being described? Do you really, honestly not see any preference at all for such an explanation?!

    ReplyDelete
  146. Dear Isaac

    If I can summarise your position (l'shitatcha) - being that it is Rosh Chodesh Adar and all:

    Little (future king) Solomon comes home from Shul on Rosh Chodesh, and says, "Daddy, that was a great song you sang today for Rosh Chodesh."
    "Why thank you, Solomon" says King David.
    "Just one question, Dad. What does that word mean that you used - shafan? According to the KJV it says, 'The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for something', but I don't know what"
    "Ah, good question, my wise son. The shafan is an animal that neither you, nor anyone else in this generation has ever seen. In fact, no Jews will know anything about it for over 1000 years. But G-d told me about it. It will make a cute house-pet, Beatrix Potter will write stories about it, and Warner Brothers will make a cartoon shafan who will popularize the phrase 'What's up Doc?' But that is all in the future."
    "Thanks Dad" says Solomon. "But just two more questions - what do we call those brown things that sit on the rocks next to the wild goats? And what's a cartoon?"

    Clearly you have no problem with that scenario. I understand why Rabbi Slifkin finds it unlikely.
    My question to you (though you have not answered my last two questions - I'm still waiting) is: Why the rabbit? Perhaps David HaMelech was speaking about an as-yet undiscovered animal that lives on a rock in the Amazonian rain forest, and won't be discovered for another 1000 years? Or perhaps the Mars Rover will discover the real shafan? If we allow future animals (because of ruach hakodesh) how can anyone have the chutzpa to claim that they know what any animal is?
    Oh, and do you have any source in Shas or Rishonim which says explicitly that Tanach refers to animals which were unknown to the original audience?

    ReplyDelete
  147. Rabbi Sedley, you beat me to it. I was just thinking along the same lines - according to Isaac Betech, wouldn't it be possible to say that the shafan is an alien species on a different planet, or a species that will one day be created in the laboratory? It could have long ears, and match all the other clues given by the European Rishonim (who had ruach hakodesh, and therefore knew about life on other planets and in the future). And it could be a true ruminant, so that Isaac does not have to go against the mesorah and contrive a new definition of maale gerah in which the shafan differs from other maale gerah animals!

    ReplyDelete
  148. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Thank you for your prompt answer, although it seems to me that since you are so busy with your lectures, you only wrote a partial and short answer. In case of need I am ready to wait.

    NS wrote:
    Ruach HaKodesh at Bible-book-level is enough for describing certain aspects of an even unknown animal

    Please supply evidence for that.

    31.1 IB:
    Before I try to answer please specify which kind of evidence would be satisfactory for you.

    NS wrote:
    It is extremely relevant. Rashi is likewise said to have been written with ruach hakodesh. And yet Rashi can demonstrably be shown to have been rated as unaware of various animals/plants in remote locations. So please state whether you accept that Rashi was written with ruach hakodesh.

    31.2 IB:
    As you remember, when I stated that Tehilim and Mishle were written with Ruach HaKodesh at Bible-book-level, I provided some sources.
    If you would provide any equivalent written source about Rashi, I will read it and I will try to answer your “extremely relevant” question B”H.

    NS wrote:
    Giraffe, elephant or leviathan/whale, are animals in the region or that were familiar to people in the region?

    Yes, absolutely! (though there is no evidence that giraffes are in Tanach.)

    31.3 IB:
    a) Sorry, I did not understand your statement. Please explain, are you speaking about giraffes, elephants and whales in Eretz Yisrael on Biblical times or about present-day Israeli-fauna?

    b) My sources supporting the translation of the biblical “Zemer” as giraffe are:
    הרשב"ץ בס' יבין שמועה הל' טרפות דף ה'
    אנציקלופדיה לכשרות המזון, מזון מן החי (רב עמרם אדרעי) התשמ"ח, דף ר"פ
    Doni Zivotofsky, Ari Z. Zivotofsky and Zohar Amar. “Giraffe: A Halakhically Oriented Dissection”. The Torah u-Madda Journal (11/2002-03), pages 203-221

    If you disagree, please explain why?

    NS wrote:
    I can't decide if you are being serious. I am proposing correcting a single error to bring it in line with all other evidence/ opinions. You are proposing correcting all other evidence/ opinions to bring them all in line with a single statement!

    31.4 IB:
    I am trying to be serious. Please read again 30.7 IB (a, b and c) and only then propose how to correct a single error.

    NS wrote:
    There is one question that you raised earlier that I forgot to address. You asked why the shafan has to live next to the ibex…

    31.5 IB:
    It is good you began remembering one of the unanswered questions. As you remember in 3.4 IB: (Please provide a source stating that the shafan must live near the ibex) the emphasis was on the word “must”.
    In your today’s answer I could not find any source stating that the shafan must live near the ibex.
    Even if it would be “extremely reasonable to propose that there is a connection between the two parts of the verse”, nevertheless it is not enough for presenting this point as a kushia against my position.

    NS wrote:
    … And, given that there is presumably a connection, and given that there are indeed animals that hide in the rocks right amongst the ibex, is it not very, very reasonable to presume that these are the animals being described?...

    31.6 IB:
    Your point reminds me of another unanswered question/comment, i.e. 5.2 IB: (Of course any rock-hiding-animal is not automatically a candidate for being the biblical shafan.
    The hyrax does not fulfill even biblical requirements for being the shafan…)

    ReplyDelete
  149. Before I try to answer please specify which kind of evidence would be satisfactory for you.

    Sources which show this to be a normative position in Judaism.

    If you would provide any equivalent written source about Rashi, I will read it and I will try to answer your “extremely relevant” question B”H.

    There's lots of sources. For example, the Shlah, beginning of Shavuos.

    Please explain, are you speaking about giraffes, elephants and whales in Eretz Yisrael on Biblical times or about present-day Israeli-fauna?

    In Biblical times. They were all familiar. Whales from the ocean, elephants from wars etc. Giraffes were exported from Alexandria to ports around the Mediterranean as tributes.

    My sources supporting the translation of the biblical “Zemer” as giraffe...

    Yes, this was mentioned earlier by Rav Saadiah and others. It's a possibility. But there is no particular evidence for it.

    In any case, the point stands: every other animal and plant mentioned in Tanach was familiar to Jews in Biblical Israel. There is conspicuous lack of mention of pandas, polar bears, penguins, or any species that would have been unknown in Biblical Israel.

    Here's a thought on Barchi Nafshi. When David is singing about the amazing trees, why doesn't he mention the giant redwoods and sequoias of California? Why does he mention instead the much less impressive cedars of Lebanon?

    In your today’s answer I could not find any source stating that the shafan must live near the ibex.

    The source is basic reason. The same kind of reason that we have used in learning Torah for thousands of years. The same reason that lies behind the question "mah inyan shmittah eitzel har sinai." If there is one short passuk describing two things, it stands to reason that there is some sort of connection between them. Do you disagree?

    Furthermore, since there are animals that hide under rocks next to ibexes (i.e. hyraxes), then when the passuk mentions ibexes and then wants to describe animals that hide under rocks, why would it NOT describe the animals that live in the rocks next to ibexes? Why go to the other side of the world, when there is something right here?

    Even if it would be “extremely reasonable to propose that there is a connection between the two parts of the verse”, nevertheless it is not enough for presenting this point as a kushia against my position.

    Here is the crucial difference between us. I, and everyone else here, believe in assessing what is very probable and extremely reasonable. You believe that even if something is overwhelmingly improbably and unreasonable, that is not any reason at all not to accept it.

    You claim that it is inconceivable that the hyrax is the shafan. Yet every academic scholar of Biblical zoology, religious and secular alike, has agreed that the hyrax is the shafan. How do you account for them all being wrong? What is the common flaw in their approach?

    ReplyDelete
  150. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Thank you for your prompt answer, although it seems to me again, that since you are so busy with your lectures, you only wrote a partial and short answer.

    NS wrote:
    Sources which show this to be a normative position in Judaism.

    32.1 IB:
    Rambam Yesode HaTorah 7:1
    Yishaya 42:9
    Yishaya 46:9
    Amos 3:7
    Tehilim 25:14
    Sanhedrin 48b

    NS wrote:
    There's lots of sources. For example, the Shlah, beginning of Shavuos.

    32.2 IB:
    Sorry I could not find it, please provide the dibur hamatchil.

    NS wrote:
    In Biblical times. They were all familiar. Whales from the ocean, elephants from wars etc. Giraffes were exported from Alexandria to ports around the Mediterranean as tributes.

    32.3 IB:
    a) Have you checked how many times a year a whale is seen from Israel shore?
    Enough to be called “familiar”?

    b) In which wars the people of Israel became familiar with elephants?

    c) To which Israeli ports giraffes were exported?

    NS wrote:
    My sources supporting the translation of the biblical “Zemer” as giraffe...

    Yes, this was mentioned earlier by Rav Saadiah and others. It's a possibility. But there is no particular evidence for it.

    32.4 IB:
    What is the other possible translation of “Zemer” and what is the evidence for it?

    NS wrote:
    In any case, the point stands: every other animal and plant mentioned in Tanach was familiar to Jews in Biblical Israel. There is conspicuous lack of mention of pandas, polar bears, penguins, or any species that would have been unknown in Biblical Israel.

    32.5 IB:
    Again you are jumping to conclusions, before answering the pertinent questions.

    NS wrote:
    Here's a thought on Barchi Nafshi. When David is singing about the amazing trees, why doesn't he mention the giant redwoods and sequoias of California? Why does he mention instead the much less impressive cedars of Lebanon?

    32.6 IB:
    In the same Barchi Nafshi, why David is mentioning the whale? (see above 32.3 IB)

    32.7 IB:
    Here you skipped 31.4 IB:

    NS wrote:
    The source is basic reason…

    32.8 IB:
    Here you skipped what I wrote on 31.5 IB (Even if it would be “extremely reasonable to propose that there is a connection between the two parts of the verse”, nevertheless it is not enough for presenting this point as a kushia against my position.)

    Please see continuation in the next comment

    ReplyDelete
  151. Please see the previous comment.

    NS wrote:
    Furthermore, since there are animals that hide under rocks next to ibexes (i.e. hyraxes), then when the passuk mentions ibexes and then wants to describe animals that hide under rocks, why would it NOT describe the animals that live in the rocks next to ibexes? Why go to the other side of the world, when there is something right here?

    32.9 IB:
    You do not have to go the other side of the world… again you are ignoring all the information I presented (leshitatcha) regarding the presence of rabbits in the Middle East.

    NS wrote:
    Here is the crucial difference between us. I, and everyone else here, believe in assessing what is very probable and extremely reasonable. You believe that even if something is overwhelmingly improbably and unreasonable, that is not any reason at all not to accept it.
    You claim that it is inconceivable that the hyrax is the shafan. Yet every academic scholar of Biblical zoology, religious and secular alike, has agreed that the hyrax is the shafan. How do you account for them all being wrong? What is the common flaw in their approach?

    32.10 IB:
    Here is the crucial difference between us. I am reading and examining every claim and source you present. You believe what every academic scholar of Biblical zoology claim, without refuting the claims and sources I present.
    If you want to prove that I am wrong in the latter, it is very easy, read (just read) and refute (just refute) the original nine sources I presented against your mistaken statement and all the additional sources I have added throughout this comment thread.

    32.11 IB:
    Here again you skipped what I wrote on 31.6 IB
    Your point reminds me of another unanswered question/comment, i.e. 5.2 IB:
    Of course any rock-hiding-animal is not automatically a candidate for being the biblical shafan.
    The hyrax does not fulfill even biblical requirements for being the shafan…

    ReplyDelete

  152. What is the common flaw in their approach?

    The hyrax doesn't chew the cud. Neither does the rabbit. That is reason enough to doubt the claims of the scholars.

    ReplyDelete
  153. Speaking of Ruach HaKodesh:

    DO on Jan 31st: I'm sure you that may answer something like: "this doesn't prove that they *must* live together; I asked for 'must'".

    IB on Feb 11th: (Please provide a source stating that the shafan must live near the ibex) the emphasis was on the word “must”.

    Anyhow, I think that what we can say so far is that Dr. Betech effectively concedes that Tehillim 104:18 *by itself* does match the Hyrax better than the Rabbit. He is only arguing that this pasuk doesn't 100% exclude the rabbit as the description could have been divined via some form of prophecy. The pasuk remained obscure in its meaning until finally being deciphered in the 21st century as referring to the Rock-Rabbit of South Africa. He also seems to be saying that he has a future argument up his sleeve as to why the Shafan can't possibly be the Hyrax, despite the evidence from this pasuk.

    Dr. Betech, could you provide your argument for excluding the Hyrax as a candidate for the Shafan now?

    ReplyDelete
  154. B”H
    Dear R Sedley

    DS wrote:
    Oh, and do you have any source in Shas or Rishonim which says explicitly that Tanach refers to animals which were unknown to the original audience?

    33.1 IB
    Chulin 42a

    ReplyDelete
  155. B”H
    Dear David Ohsie

    DO wrote:
    …Dr. Betech, could you provide your argument for excluding the Hyrax as a candidate for the Shafan now?


    34.1 IB:
    Although we could analyze if the details of your whole exposition are indeed presenting my position, anyway your bottom line is clear, one of the problems with the hyrax is:

    The hyrax is a “non-ruminant, non-caecotroph, non-merycist species” so it is not even “maaleh gera”.

    ReplyDelete
  156. NS wrote:
    Furthermore, since there are animals that hide under rocks next to ibexes (i.e. hyraxes), then when the passuk mentions ibexes and then wants to describe animals that hide under rocks, why would it NOT describe the animals that live in the rocks next to ibexes? Why go to the other side of the world, when there is something right here?

    32.9 IB:
    You do not have to go the other side of the world… again you are ignoring all the information I presented (leshitatcha) regarding the presence of rabbits in the Middle East.


    Aside from the fact that there is no evidence they were ever there, the rabbits you are arguing for don't hide under rocks (based on R. Slifkin's prior description).

    ReplyDelete
  157. I assume that when you say "Chulin 42a" you refer to the line which says "This teaches that G-d grabbed Moshe and showed him each species, and said: This you may eat, and this you may not eat"
    1. Can you confirm that this is what you are referring to.
    2. How do you know that this includes animals unknown to Moshe? Perhaps it only includes those animals listed in the Torah?
    3. Even if you can answer 2. it does not answer my question, which I'll repeat for you: do you have any source in Shas or Rishonim which says explicitly that Tanach refers to animals which were unknown to the original audience?
    This is not speaking about Moshe's audience. There is no implication in this Gemara at all that Moshe transmitted the information he learned on Mount Sinai to the Children of Israel. In the same way that the gemarot in Berachot 5a and Megilla 19b do not mean that Moshe dictated the book of Esther (or any other books of Tanach) the Children of Israel, nor did he teach them Mishna, Gemara etc. (See introduction of Tosefot Yom Tov)

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  158. B”H
    Dear David Ohsie

    DO wrote:
    Aside from the fact that there is no evidence they were ever there, the rabbits you are arguing for don't hide under rocks (based on R. Slifkin's prior description).

    35.1 IB:
    For concluding that there is no evidence… you have to read the articles and refute them.

    35.2 IB:
    Dwelling in rocks is circumstantial and behavioral. Indeed, since we find that certain types of rabbits look for shelter in rocky areas, we can assume that other types of rabbits in different geographical zones are also able to do the same in case of need, depending on the changing predatory menace present in a specific time and place, or other ecological variations.

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  159. B”H
    Dear R. David Sidley

    DS wrote:
    1. Can you confirm that this is what you are referring to.

    36.1 IB:
    Confirmed.

    DS wrote:
    2. How do you know that this includes animals unknown to Moshe?

    36.2 IB:
    Please read Leviticus chapter 11

    DS wrote:
    … There is no implication in this Gemara at all that Moshe transmitted the information he learned on Mount Sinai to the Children of Israel…

    36.3 IB:
    Please read Leviticus chapter 11, verses 1 and 2

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  160. DO wrote:
    Aside from the fact that there is no evidence they were ever there, the rabbits you are arguing for don't hide under rocks (based on R. Slifkin's prior description).

    35.1 IB:
    For concluding that there is no evidence… you have to read the articles and refute them.


    Granting you your articles, you've proven that rabbits live in Egypt, not that they lived in Biblical Israel. I don't have the wherewithal to get a hold of your references, but from the examples you've quoted, this is speculation on your part. For example

    Because it could be similar to the following description:

    Oryctolagus cuniculus first arrived in Malta about 3600 years ago on the ships of the Phoenicians as they sailed eastwards from Spain. This assumption is based on the knowledge that it was the Phoenicians who discovered the wild rabbit in Spain, and that they made it a point to populate the islands along their routes with this self-replenishing supply of fresh meat so as to ensure regular provisions at strategic points in their travels."


    Israel is not an island needing to be populated with livestock.

    Again, this is a red herring because the Pasuk in question doesn't fit the rabbit that you are talking about.

    Dwelling in rocks is circumstantial and behavioral. Indeed, since we find that certain types of rabbits look for shelter in rocky areas, we can assume that other types of rabbits in different geographical zones are also able to do the same in case of need, depending on the changing predatory menace present in a specific time and place, or other ecological variations

    R. Slifkin has already dealt with this. The rock hyrax was designed to hide in rocks as a primary behavior. People will also hide in caves if they have to, but we are are not "cave people", and it is not accidental that the rock hyrax lives in a rocky area. Again, the point is that the pasuk fits much, much better with the hyrax. Here is R. Slifkin's description:

    From the aforementioned source:

    "The preferred habitats of this species include dry areas near sea level with soft, sandy soil (for easy burrowing)."

    Of course, if there is nowhere else to hide, an animal will hide under rocks. However, since the European rabbit is designed for digging and burrowing, this is why it does not live in habitats where it cannot do so. Conversely, the hyrax, also known as the rock hyrax, is specifically adapted for hiding under rocks and only lives in such terrain.


    So it remains that the Pasuk in question matches the Hyrax well and the rabbit not well, if at all.

    That said, you mention that you have other evidence against the Hyrax. What is it?

    ReplyDelete
  161. B”H
    Dear David Ohsie
    I appreciate so much your honesty in writing “…I don't have the wherewithal to get a hold of your references…”

    As you may know, Natan had a very busy schedule in USA.
    Today, I think he has no lecture.
    So please, let’s give him a chance to answer my posts dated:

    February 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM (20.1 IB) and/or
    February 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM, and/or
    February 5, 2013 at 1:07 AM (first and second part),
    February 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM (first and second part), and/or what I wrote today as per your request:
    February 11, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    ReplyDelete
  162. related, on plausible vs. remotely possible, see here that Dan Rather still believes the Killian memos to be authentic.

    The number of contortions one needs to adopt in order to allow them to be authentic, as opposed to being created using the default settings of Word 97, is tremendous.

    ReplyDelete
  163. The hyrax is a “non-ruminant, non-caecotroph, non-merycist species” so it is not even “maaleh gera”.

    I'm sure that there is a lot to debate and discuss here which I'll leave to you and R. Slifkin, but I think that it is clear that delineating Maaleh Gera as including precisely caecotrophy and merycism in addition to the traditional ruminant category is something that is highly debatable. For example, I find it very unlikely that any Posek would admit any animal that has "split hooves" and practices caecotrophy, but not classic rumination as Kosher, even theoretically. The Maaleh Gera characteristic is problematic for Hares and Rabbits as well.

    ReplyDelete
  164. Dear Isaac,

    Finally, after over 150 comments, you have actually got to the crux of the issue. You wrote:

    The hyrax is a “non-ruminant, non-caecotroph, non-merycist species” so it is not even “maaleh gera”.

    Everything else until now has been irrelevant. This is the line we must focus on. Let me explain:

    The simple translation of the Torah (e.g. Artscroll, Kaplan) presents us with an apparent contradiction. The word "shafan" is translated as "hyrax" and the phrase "maaleh gerah" is translated as "chews the cud". The contradiction is that the hyrax does not chew the cud in the commonly understood sense of the word (for example, everyone agrees that it does not have multiple stomachs as other ruminants have).
    Rabbi Slifkin and yourself have found two different solutions to this problem. Each must be judged on its own merits - neither is a contradiction to the other.
    Rabbi Slifkin claims that the hyrax is the best fit with the animal known as shafan. He has a lot of scriptural and historical evidence for that. Therefore, he redefines "maaleh gerah" (as you know from his book) and provided video evidence for his claim, as well as some academic research on the subject.
    You, on the other hand, have applied a strict definition to "maaleh gerah" (cited above), and therefore, since the hyrax does not fulfil your definition of "maaleh gerah" you are forced to claim that it is another animal. Given your definition of "maaleh gerah" you have no option but to find another animal to be the shafan.
    It seems to me that in theory both of these views are valid, and neither invalidates the other.
    However, your entire opinion of the shafan is based on your definition of "maaleh gerah". So, your starting point in any discussion has to be to prove that your definition is valid (in terms of Torah sources, not in terms of biology, which is clearly irrelevant to defining halachic concepts).
    Therefore, can you please provide all of us with the basis (Shas, Rishonim or even Acharonim) for your claim that "maaleh gerah" means: ruminant or caecotroph or merycist species.
    The more sources you bring, and more explicit they are, the stronger your position is. Without them, it would appear that everything else in your argument falls apart.
    So, I (and perhaps a few other hardy souls, who have stuck around through a very long and protracted comment discussion) am waiting.
    Looking forward to your response.
    (I feel that I should add - since it seems to be your style - that going off on a tangent will be an admission that you are lacking sources. So please, just the sources - preferably in English (for those who can read blogs but can't read Hebrew), but Hebrew will do)

    ReplyDelete
  165. IB:

    As you may know, Natan had a very busy schedule in USA.
    Today, I think he has no lecture.


    Isaac, you are being obnoxious.

    ReplyDelete
  166. Dear Isaac

    I have looked at the chapter and verse as requested. Now can you please answer my question as to how the Gemara in Chullin demonstrates that someone spoke with Ruach HaKodesh to an audience who did not understand his terminology.

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  167. B”H
    Dear R. David Sidley

    37.1 IB:
    Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbenu to communicate to Bene Yisrael, (Leviticus 11:2):
    “Zot hachaya asher tochelu…” (This is the living thing that ye may eat among all the beasts that are on the earth).
    The Talmud (Chulin 42a) reports that, as indicated by the words “this is”, when enumerating the various species, the Almighty miraculously showed Moshe each and every species and exclaimed, “this one you may eat” or, “this one you may not eat”.
    Since Moshe is called “Eved Neeman”, it may be supposed that he followed what he was instructed and communicated the message to Bene Yisrael.
    Leviticus Chapter 11 includes the names of many species; do you think that Bene Yisrael knew by their names all the species mentioned there?

    ReplyDelete
  168. Dear Isaac

    Did you really not understand what I wrote? Let me try to say it again.

    How do you know that G-d showed Moshe every single animal that has (or will) ever live? Does the word "kol" in Tanach always mean every single one? (Clearly not - look at Tosefot Zevachim 113a s.v. Lo Yarad).
    Furthermore, how do you know that "Eved Neeman" means that Moshe told everything to the Children of Israel? As I showed you, Tosefot Yom Tov, in his introduction to Mishna, says explicitly the opposite of you.

    So, I'll ask again. Can you please give me an explicit source which shows someone speaking with Ruach HaKodesh to an audience who cannot understand his terminology?

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  169. Okay, I'm back. But I'm not sure that I want to waste too much more time here, Isaac, since you just seem to be deliberately wasting people's time. I'll explain what I mean. I asked for sources that it is a normative position in Judaism that "Ruach HaKodesh at Bible-book-level is enough for describing certain aspects of an even unknown animal." You responded with a list of references - not citations - but references. I looked up the first three, and they were absolutely not sources for this idea in the slightest. So you seem to be just wasting people's time, sending them on missions to look up sources that have nothing to do with the points that you are making.

    Then you simply ignore my other questions. When I asked you, leshitascha, why David mentions the cedars in Lebanon instead of the larger redwoods in California, you didn't answer. Instead, you asked why he mentioned the whale. Now, even if people in Biblical Israel had never heard of whales (which is certainly not the case, as anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the topic would know), that would not remotely answer my question. If anything, it would make my question even more powerful - if God describes the biggest animals, regardless of whether people knew about them, then why doesn't he describe the biggest trees!

    I'm not even going to bother responding again to all your distortions, as long as you are not serious about answering my questions directly, and providing citations that back up your claims rather than sending people to do homework looking up references that do not remotely back up your claims. Besides, it's quite obvious that you haven't even begun to do your own homework - you claim the elephant as evidence of unknown creatures in Tanach, but elephants were not only not unknown - they aren't even in Tanach!

    ReplyDelete
  170. Leviticus Chapter 11 includes the names of many species; do you think that Bene Yisrael knew by their names all the species mentioned there?

    Of course they did!

    ReplyDelete
  171. B”H
    Dear Natan
    Welcome back.

    NS wrote:
    Leviticus Chapter 11 includes the names of many species; do you think that Bene Yisrael knew by their names all the species mentioned there?

    Of course they did!

    38.1 IB:
    Please remember that my answer is only leshitatcha as explained above.

    a) If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why do you think that Bene Yisrael did not know by name the rabbit?
    Please explain the difference.

    b) If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why was it necessary for Hashem to show Moshe each and every species and exclaim, “this one you may eat” or, “this one you may not eat”.

    PS. The next few hours I will be lecturing B”H.

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  172. Dr Betech, if I understand you correctly, the reason why you are adamant that the shafan cannot possibly be the hyrax is that it is not maaleh gerah. However, surely there have been various authorities, such as Rabbi David Zvi Hoffman, who defined maaleh gerah in such a way that would include the hyrax. He was a gadol b'Torah! Even if you personally disagree with his definition, how can you state with such certainty that his interpretation of maaleh gerah is definitively wrong?!

    ReplyDelete
  173. Isaac, I just wrote that I will not respond any more since you just ignore my questions and waste my time. Did you fail to understand that in what I wrote? I thought that I was explicit.

    (Your latest questions are truly staggering - especially the first. Do you really not know my answer?! I suspect that you must, in which case you are being slippery again...)

    ReplyDelete
  174. I don't see the relevance of showing the redwoods to Moses. But IF, (and only IF) God was showing Moses that there are only 4 animals that have one Sign, then he could very well have showed these animals to Moses as stated in Hullin 42, regardless of whether they do or do not live in Biblical Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  175. Since R. Slifkin is rightly too frustrated to answer, I'll see if I can state what I think is obvious.


    a) If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why do you think that Bene Yisrael did not know by name the rabbit?
    Please explain the difference.


    Because there were no rabbits around at the time.

    (I also don't really get the point of your question; had there been rabbits that doesn't prove that they have to be mentioned by a separate name in the Torah; they could possibly have even been classified as Arneves).


    b) If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why was it necessary for Hashem to show Moshe each and every species and exclaim, “this one you may eat” or, “this one you may not eat”.


    Rashi on Shemot 12:2 explains "*This* Chodesh: God showed Moshe the moon in its 'renewal' and said: when the moon renews itself, it shall be for the first of the month".

    Now certainly God could have simply said: the month will start with the first appearance of the new moon; there is no need to actually show it to anyone with familiarity of the night sky (unfortunately lacking in our modern urban lifestyle). So we see that there is not implication from the fact that God showed Moshe something, he could not have known it otherwise. Apparently, God wanted to communicate to Moshe via visuals according to these D'rashot. Which is very sensible if you take the Rambam's position that all speech from God to man (including the direct revelation to B'nei Yisrael on Har Sinai) was a prophetic experience.

    Secondly, while the word "this" is commonly "darshaned" to mean that God showed the item in question to Moshe, it is clearly "d'rush" and now "p'shat" as Rashi explains on the same passuk.

    Thirdly, it is possible, based on Chulin 60b, that Moshe was known not be an expert in this area. Since it says "was Moshe trapper or hunter?", it is implies that if he was a hunter or trapper, he might have known about whatever the Gemara is referring to (whether the Shesua animal or something else) and no proof of the Divine source of the Torah could be adduced. Since he was known not to be an expert in this area, it would be obvious that he gained knowledge from "Shamayim" to write the Torah. Thus, I (L'havdil) would have trouble identifying a hyrax if I saw one, yet I'm quite confident that the work "hyrax" refers to a known animal. Possibly, God showed Moshe the animals to give him a more complete understanding of the animals that were also known by name.

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  176. Rabbi Slifkin, Dr Betech refered to a book by Price and Gebauer describing the hunting of gazelle, ibex and rabbits in the Negev. You argued that this is a mistake. I found a relevant article at http://www.neiu.edu/~circill/hageman/anth396/fromforaging.pdf; see p. 26, where the authors write that the prime game animals in the Negev were gazelle, ibex and hare. It thus appears that you were correct.

    ReplyDelete
  177. Thank you, but it did not involve any brilliance on my part. It obviously had to be a mistake, since the hare is the only lagomorph native to the Middle East. There simply couldn't have been any hunting of rabbits in the period of ten thousand years ago that the book describes, and so clearly there was an accidental transposition of hare with rabbit.

    Incidentally, don't expect Betech to admit that his source was wrong. He didn't even retract his alleged source about rabbits in Syria, even though the writer himself corrected his claim in his later work.

    ReplyDelete
  178. Anonymous commander said...

    I don't see the relevance of showing the redwoods to Moses. But IF, (and only IF) God was showing Moses that there are only 4 animals that have one Sign, then he could very well have showed these animals to Moses as stated in Hullin 42, regardless of whether they do or do not live in Biblical Israel.


    You can leave out this topic for now - because the shafan is mentioned in Tehillim and Mishlei also.

    ReplyDelete
  179. following the threadFebruary 14, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    If the Tzvi/Ayal can be transposed, why can't the Shafan be transposed between Matan Torah and the era of the Milachim?

    This is quite probable, as the Torah says that the Shafan is Maaleh Gerah, and to say that the hyrax does, is a stretch.

    ReplyDelete
  180. B”H
    Dear Natan,
    Good morning.

    NS wrote:
    Incidentally, don't expect Betech to admit that his source was wrong.

    39.1 IB:
    I will be B”H more than glad if someone finds any mistake in what I wrote or any source I have referenced.
    In that case of course I am ready to admit it even in a public forum like this.
    Please continue reading.

    NS wrote:
    He didn't even retract his alleged source about rabbits in Syria, even though the writer himself corrected his claim in his later work.

    39.2 IB:
    You haven’t provided yet the precise reference, in case you will do it, and it is as clear as you say, then I will admit that I did not know that the author of my source retracted later.

    NS wrote:
    … It obviously had to be a mistake…

    39.3 IB:
    Regarding the source quoted by Harry the Hyrax, it is a source from a publication published around 1991 by O. Bar-Yosef. Bar-Yosef is also the author of the paper published inside the book Last Hunter first Farmers, published in 1995 where Bar-Yosef in page 61 quoting Tchernov (1993) writes “rabbit” and not “hare”.
    Of course, it can be a mistake made by Bar-Yosef, but as you remember I asked you to read also page 93 of the book.

    39.4 IB:
    By the way, as you repeatedly expressed that they were hares but no rabbits, let me ask you the following:
    a) How do you distinguish between fossils of hares and rabbits?
    b) Is it easy to do that?
    c) Is it a common practice by Middle-East-Zooarcheologists to check it?

    ReplyDelete
  181. If the Tzvi/Ayal can be transposed, why can't the Shafan be transposed between Matan Torah and the era of the Milachim?

    We don't just stam say that animals were transposed. With the tzvi/ayal, there is a reason why it happened - Jews moved to Europe, where there were no gazelles. No such change happened between Matan Torah and the Melachim.

    This is quite probable, as the Torah says that the Shafan is Maaleh Gerah, and to say that the hyrax does, is a stretch.

    It's not such a stretch. Besides, the hyrax perfectly matches other descriptions, has the same name in other languages, and there is no other candidate.

    ReplyDelete
  182. Isaac, I refer you to my comment of February 14, 2013 at 12:13 AM.

    ReplyDelete
  183. B”H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote at February 14, 2013 at 12:13 AM:
    … I will not respond any more since you just ignore my questions…

    40.1 IB:
    In the same comment that you accused me of ignoring your questions, you acknowledge that you received my latest two questions, and you are not answering them…

    NS wrote:
    … Your latest questions are truly staggering - especially the first…

    40.2 IB:
    I will copy again the latest two questions I expect you to answer:

    a) If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why do you think that Bene Yisrael did not know by name the rabbit?
    Please explain the difference.

    b) If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why was it necessary for Hashem to show Moshe each and every species and exclaim, “this one you may eat” or, “this one you may not eat”.

    ReplyDelete
  184. In the same comment that you accused me of ignoring your questions, you acknowledge that you received my latest two questions, and you are not answering them…

    That's right. Because I asked first, and you ignored my questions. Plus, you sent me to look up references that had nothing to do with what you claimed they proved. Not to mention the fact that your question must surely have some sort of devious motive, because I can't imagine that you don't know my answer to it.

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  185. B"H
    Dear Natan,

    NS wrote:
    ...I can't imagine that you don't know my answer to it.

    41.1 IB:
    I am sorry, but I have to publicly acknowledge that I do not know your answer, please write your answers.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  186. Dear Isaac

    Just a reminder that I am still waiting for you to provide me with sources. Do you think you will have time in your busy schedule to do that before Shabbat?
    I noticed that when we discussed lice and I asked you to provide even a single Rishon or Acharon to support your opinion you failed to do so.
    Should I assume that here too you have no Chazal, Rishon or Acharon to back you up in your definition of maaleh gerah?

    ReplyDelete
  187. I just received an email from Prof. Bar-Yosef - the author of Betech's alleged source that rabbits lived in the Negev. Prof. Bar-Yosef thinks that he accidentally substituted rabbit for hare, and he said that I should go with Tchernov's statement that only hares are endemic to the Middle East.

    From here we see three things:

    1) Only hares are endemic to the Middle East.

    2) Dr. Betech's claimed sources for the existence of rabbits in Biblical Israel turn out to be incorrect/ non-existent.

    3) My assessment of these sources turned out to be correct, whereas Dr. Betech's assessment turned out to be wrong. Which is not due to any genius on my part, but rather to the observation that rabbits clearly originated in Spain, and thus did not live in Biblical Israel (or Syria, etc.).

    ReplyDelete
  188. Isaac, I refer you to my comment of February 14, 2013 at 12:13 AM.

    ReplyDelete
  189. following the threadFebruary 14, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    So you are saying that we don't just stam say that animals were transposed unless we have a good reason. Isn't the fact that the hyrax does not chew the cud reason enough to say that the animal must have been transposed? If the Dor Hamidbar was shown an animal that did not live in Eretz Yisroel, how would they have passed the mesorah of that animal to future generations?
    As for matching other descriptions, if we are theorizing that there was transposition, then Mishlei and Tehilim have no bearing. The only description is an animal that doesn't have split hooves and chews its cud. And the hyrax does not fit that description.

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  190. There has to be very good reason and an explanation of how the mistake happened (such as that the Jews moved to Europe, where there were different animals.)

    Positing that the tzvi is the gazelle solves many serious problems, fits with all the evidence, and raises no difficulties at all.

    Positing that the shafan is not the hyrax, on the other hand, raises a whole lot of problems. Problems that are much, much more difficult to solve than explaining that the hyrax is described as maaleh gerah either due to the way that it chews (as per Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman) or due to its practicing merycism. Both of those explanations are relatively straightforward, especially in light of other similarly imprecise descriptions of natural phenomena by the Torah. (And you haven't even suggested what the shafan is, if it is not the hyrax!)

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  191. If you think that Bene Yisrael in the desert knew by their names all the species mentioned in Leviticus chapter 11, then tell me why do you think that Bene Yisrael did not know by name the rabbit?
    Please explain the difference.I am sorry, but I have to publicly acknowledge that I do not know your answer, please write your answers.


    R. Slifkin, Dr. Betech is either lying, or he is an utter idiot. Either way, you shouldn't respond.

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  192. If the Tzvi/Ayal can be transposed, why can't the Shafan be transposed between Matan Torah and the era of the Milachim?

    This is quite probable, as the Torah says that the Shafan is Maaleh Gerah, and to say that the hyrax does, is a stretch.


    To say that the rabbit or hare is Maaleh Gerah is really no easier. Neither are ruminants.

    ReplyDelete
  193. following the threadFebruary 14, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Positing that the shafan is not the hyrax, on the other hand, raises a whole lot of problems. Problems that are much, much more difficult to solve...

    Suppose it is the llama, which chews the cud and does not have split hooves, what would be the problem? The only problem may be that it doesn't hide among the rocks, but if we posit transposition, that problem disappears.

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  194. 1) Chazal believed that they were familiar with the shafan and arneves.

    2) Chazal also believed, as did everyone after them, that the shafan of the Torah is the same as the shafan of Tehillim and Mishlei.

    3) The arneves of the Gemara is clearly the hare.

    4) The hyrax is called shafan in other languages.

    5) I consider it unreasonable that God used a word in the Torah which was utterly incomprehensible and essentially entirely meaningless for two thousand years.

    You'd have to come up with some wild theory in which Chazal were hopelessly misled, and David and Shlomo either mistakenly transposed the name to an animal which just so happens to mislead people into thinking that it is the shafan of the Torah, or that David and Shlomo deliberately tricked everyone.

    The default position is that the shafan of the Torah is the same as the shafan of Tehillim and Mishlei. There would have to be EXTREMELY good reason to think otherwise. There isn't any good reason to think otherwise; the Torah's description of the hyrax being maaleh gerah is much less problematic than some of its other descriptions of natural phenomena!

    ReplyDelete
  195. following the threadFebruary 14, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    1) Chazal believed that they were familiar with the shafan and arneves.
    FTT>...as did the European Meforshim who were mistaken about the Tzvi.

    2) Chazal also believed, as did everyone after them, that the shafan of the Torah is the same as the shafan of Tehillim and Mishlei.
    FTT>They had no reason not to. But now that we know that the hyrax does not chew the cud, we need to reevaluate.
    FTT>Suppose that the llama is the shafan. And the Americas had not been discovered yet. When Hashem showed Moshe the llama, he showed him that it doens't completely split the hoof, and it chews the cud. Now how do you suppose future generations would know what the llama is, if they never saw it? When the Jewish people inhabited Eretz Yisroel and saw the hyrax of Ein Gedi, they saw the jaw movements and assumed it chews the cud. Transposition! So the mesorah that Chazal received was that the shafan is the hyrax, but that doesn't make it the correct translation.

    3) The arneves of the Gemara is clearly the hare.
    FTT>Agreed.

    4) The hyrax is called shafan in other languages.
    FTT>Is there any proof that the hyrax was called shafan in other languages that dates back to Matan Torah?

    5) I consider it unreasonable that God used a word in the Torah which was utterly incomprehensible and essentially entirely meaningless for two thousand years.
    FTT>There are many parts of Torah that will only become clear at the end of days. And if Hashem wanted to show Moshe all the single Simaned animals, then the Shafan must be shown, even if it's identity will only become known in some future generation

    You'd have to come up with some wild theory in which Chazal were hopelessly misled, and David and Shlomo either mistakenly transposed the name to an animal which just so happens to mislead people into thinking that it is the shafan of the Torah, or that David and Shlomo deliberately tricked everyone.
    FTT>See above.

    The default position is that the shafan of the Torah is the same as the shafan of Tehillim and Mishlei. There would have to be EXTREMELY good reason to think otherwise. There isn't any good reason to think otherwise; the Torah's description of the hyrax being maaleh gerah is much less problematic than some of its other descriptions of natural phenomena!
    FTT> The good reason is that now matter how you slice it, the hyrax is not Maleh Gayra.

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  196. The kidneys can be described as being the seat of the mind, the dew can be described as descending from the Heavens, the earth can be described as never moving, the firmament can be described as solid, even though none of these are remotely true - but the hyrax, which brings up some of its food and chews it again, or at the very least appears to do so, cannot be described as ma'aleh gerah?!

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  197. Not to mention that with your approach, it's impossible to ever know anything in the Torah. Maybe it really refers to something that we haven't discovered yet.

    ReplyDelete

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