Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom is Now Available for Pre-Order!

After fourteen years and 160,000 words, The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom has finally gone to press! This is volume one, which deals with wild animals. The encyclopedia includes every Scriptural reference, a vast range of sources from the Talmud and Midrash, along with extensive explanations, insights from zoology, all richly illustrated with stunning photographs.

The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom is being published as a cooperative venture between The Biblical Museum of Natural History, Koren Publishers, and OU Press. It is 454 pages, full color, large format hardcover, and it will retail for $49.95. The encyclopedia will hit bookstores in Israel sometime at the end of March/ early April and will reach the US several weeks later.

Meanwhile, you can pre-order the encyclopedia at www.ZooTorah.com, and receive FREE shipping to Israel, North America and Europe. Israel orders will ship as soon as the book comes off the press - in a few weeks. Other orders will ship at a later date. Or, if you want to get a signed copy, come to the book launch at The Biblical Museum of Natural History, date to be announced.

Order now if you want to be one of the first to receive the encyclopedia!

65 comments:

  1. Do you ship to Australia and how much will you charge
    Shlomo1

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    1. Tricky. I have to figure it out.

      Delete
    2. Why is that "tricky"? charge what it costs you, no?

      Delete
  2. Mazal Tov!!!! Natan, can you keep a running tab for your readers how many copies sell? I'm willing to bet you break 3,000 before Purim!!!

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  3. Mazel tov! This is a tremendous achievment, indeed.

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  4. an interested purchaserMarch 2, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    one practical question about the pre-order: is the bill from a US-based PayPal/CC account or Israel-based account? I do not want to pay the additional credit card exchange fee, so i need to know if i should use a US credit card or Israel one.

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    Replies
    1. It's an Israel-based account. But I think perhaps it charges in dollars? Not sure how these things work.

      Delete
    2. I used a US based credit card and was charged in dollars as far as I can tell. I do have some cellphone transactions that go on my paypal account and they are marked as NIS.

      Delete
  5. Mazal tov! How volumes will it be total, and what will be their subjects?

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    Replies
    1. Future volumes will include all the other animals - I'm not sure how many will be combined together.

      Delete
  6. Mazel Tov!

    Can you tell us what the book's ISBN is? I have found this is the easiest way to identify books when purchasing online. Many thanks!

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  7. Ordered for my niece's Bat Mitzvah! Mazal tov!

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  8. I really want to buy it - despite being (nominally) Chareidi, I like your blog, I enjoy your writing style, and I feel an injustice was done to you during the Ban saga. (I also liked your Perek Shira book). And, from the little I have seen of it, the Encyclopaedia looks pretty amazing.

    But ... I am an Am Ha'aretz in inyanei Haskafah. I don't really know what constitutes acceptable Shitos, and what veers towards Kefirah (I don't believe anything you would write is overt Kefirah, of course).

    How can I be sure that it is perfectly acceptable to buy and use your book?

    Is there any chance of a Haskamah being given by someone who is respected enough that I (and other Chareidim) could trust enough to use the book with a clear conscience?

    The Haskomah need not be in the book itself - I understand that would take pretty big guts by the Maskim. But I would need to see the Kesav Yad before relying on it.

    NB. This is a sincere query - I am not poking fun at all.

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    1. The book is co-published by the OU. The manuscript was carefully checked by them and anything remotely controversial was removed. There aren't even any references to my other books! I assume that you eat food with an OU hechsher...

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    2. Also, there is praise for the book from Rabbi Berel Wein and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein.

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    3. I'm sorry, but the question is kind of sad.

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    4. Nachum, why is the question sad? If I was buying a book to have lying around the house for my children to read, I would want it to meet a different standard in terms of "kashrus" then reading material I would get for myself, or even material I would show my children once they are a bit older. All children are taught in nursery that Hashem created the world in six days. I am reasonably sure that even R' Slifkin would not tell his four year old, actually, they were eras of undefined length, and it may be an allegory, etc."

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    5. Nachum, can you elaborate?

      A blanket comment like yours is neither helpful nor meaningful.

      Delete
    6. It's kind of sad that intelligent people need approval of some authority figure before reading things. People should be free to read whatever they want.

      And I'm not sure if you're being fatuous, but you know full well that when asking questions of these, the real question is "Are there any *charedi* 'gedolim' you can point to," and you know full well the answer is no.

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    7. The answer is not really "no." No charedi Gedolim would have any problems with this book - if it was presented to them as having been written by someone else.

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    8. "It's kind of sad that intelligent people need approval of some authority figure before reading things. People should be free to read whatever they want."

      And in one pithy line, you have rendered redundant every single Haskamah ever given on every single Sefer in print. Hmm.

      Delete
    9. I don't think haskamot were ever given to prove the "kashrut" of a sefer. They're there to let you know the sefer is worthwhile and that the author knows what he's writing about, not that it's permitted. To even get a haskama you already need to be well past kefira.

      Honestly, you don't have a single book in your house without a haskama? What about Shakespeare? A Tanach? :-)

      Delete
  9. "anything remotely controversial was removed". Does this mean that the hyrax is not mentioned as being the leading or only viable candidate for the biblical 'shafan'?

    Y. Aharon

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    Replies
    1. No, it does not mean that. You can download the hyrax chapter from the website.

      Delete
    2. But, then, if in the book you do suggest that the hyrax is the leading candidate for the Biblical "shafan" how can you say that that identification is not in least "remotely controversial"?

      Lawrence Kaplan

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    3. The fact that a certain eccentric Mexican disagrees does not make it religiously controversial. Artscroll identifies the shafan as the hyrax. So does Sichas Chullin, a standard work found in yeshivos.

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    4. Rabbi Slifkin: Dr. Betech is not , as you know ,the only person to deny that the shafan is the hyrax. Moreover, an article by Dr. Betech and another individual ( whose name escapes me just now) was published in Dialogue, for whatever that is worth. Not much, I grant you, but you and I have evidently have very different ideas as to what "not remotely controversial" means. You, in my view, do not do your cause any good by exaggeration. Now had you said that your book is well within the mainstream of Orthodox thought, including the Hared mainstream., I would have no quarrel.

      I read the article, by the way. Really great. Congratulations on a magnificent job, and simhat Purim

      Lawrence Kaplan

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    5. I would also say that it's not remotely controversial to say that the earth goes around the sun. Despite the fact that there is a rabbi in Monsey who denies it.

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    6. Rabbi Slifkin: If you truly think that identifying the shafan with the hyrax (which identification I find entirely convincing) is the same as saying the earth goes around the sun, we will just have to agree to disagree,

      Lawrence Kaplan

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  10. The book “The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan” of this “certain eccentric Mexican” has about 10 Rabbinical Haskamot (approbation letters), among them the explicit retraction letters of Rabbi Belsky shlit”a and the Sichas Chullin shlit”a, who previously identified the shafan with the hyrax, and after reading the book of the “certain eccentric Mexican” changed their mind.
    The above is not enough for saying that that identification is at least "remotely controversial"? (see Professor Rabbi Lawrence Kaplan’s comment)

    Eli

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    Replies
    1. I didn't mean that nobody disagrees, of course. (Although their disagreement is based on unfamiliarity with the subject matter, being misinformed by Betech, and/ or anti-rationalist considerations.) What I meant was that it is not theologically controversial to say that the shafan is the hyrax. In other words, Rav Belsky and R. Amita ben David (whom you call "The Sichas Chullin" - does that make me "The The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom"?) might now say that the shafan is the rabbit, but they won't say that it is religiously problematic to say otherwise.

      Incidentally, I wrote to both R Amita ben David and Rav Levinger after Betech's book came out, and they both replied to me that they did not mean to definitely affirm that the shafan is the rabbit, just to say that Betech made a good case. R. Ben David was very into the notion that the Rishonim of Europe had ruach hakodesh and knew all the animals in the world.

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  11. Despite your report trying to moderate the position of Rav Amitai Ben David (Sichas Chulin) and Rav Levinger (Maor Lemasejet Chulin), most people will find their written and published positions more compelling.
    Their letters are available on the preview of Dr. Betech’s book (the approbation letters begin on page 17):
    http://www.blurb.com/books/4961745-the-enigma-of-the-biblical-shafan

    Re. if identifying the shafan as the hyrax is “religiously problematic”, read Nispach alef (first Hebrew appendix) in the above mentioned book, where Dr. Betech explains why it is “religiously problematic”, and I do not remember any of the many Rabbinical authorities who approved the book writing any reservation on this position.
    Eli

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    Replies
    1. Perhaps, then, it would be useful to publicize what Rav Levinger wrote to me:

      לא הכרעתי בעניין. יש פנים לכאן. אני רק הראיתי שהמחבר כיוון לדעות שונות שנזכרו.

      Of course, people who are incapable of evaluating the matter properly themselves, will prefer to rely on others that they respect. For some, that will be people such as those who wrote approbations to Betech's book; for others, it will be people such as Dr. Zohar Amar, Dr. Moshe Raanan, Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky and myself.

      With regard to Betech explaining why it is "religious problematic" to identify the shafan as the hyrax (namely, that it requires redefining maaleh gerah in such a way as to include other animals), most honest people will see this as simply presenting another challenge that needs to be solved, and which can be solved with approaches such as those that I presented in my book. For Betech, on the other hand, this is the very cause for him to reject the shafan as the hyrax. In other words, all of his alleged justifications for identifying the shafan as the rabbit are not the real reasons; his real reasons are to avoid a problem with his hashkafah.

      Delete
  12. It seems to me that you are trying to refute the position of Dr. Betech (the shafan is the rabbit) and convince some of your bloggers that identifying the shafan as the hyrax is a better solution to this enigma, but this is not the point we are speaking about.

    The point is that you wrote that this identification (hyrax) which is presented in your Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom, is not:

    “religiously controversial” or
    “theologically controversial” or
    "remotely controversial" or
    “religiously problematic” and that
    “… anything remotely controversial was removed”
    “No charedi Gedolim would have any problems with this book…”

    But as demonstrated in my previous 2 comments, all these points are not true.

    Eli

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    Replies
    1. Eli/Isaac, I know that you are desperate to discredit me here, but you have bigger problems to worry about. After all, Artscroll chumashim and gemaras all render the shafan as the hyrax, and there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of those in print. And you also have all those editions of Sichas Chullin which also explain the shafan as the hyrax. Not to mention the commentaries of Rav Saadia Gaon, Malbim, and Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman. You'd better get to work to remove all these "religious problematic" works from homes, shuls and yeshivos.

      In fact, you'd better exterminate all those pesky hyraxes from Israel, because when people read the passuk which says that "The high hills are for the ibex, and the rocks are a refuge for the shafanim," and then they go to Ein Gedi and see the ibex on the high hills and the rocks being a refuge for the hyraxes, they are naturally misled into thinking that the passuk is talking about hyraxes!

      Delete
    2. David Attenborough from Vine StMarch 9, 2015 at 7:43 PM

      There is a huge difference between Artscroll saying its the Hyrax and your good self saying it. The former say it in good faith and dare I say with a hint of amei haaratzut.
      You are different. As Rabbi Frankfurter pointed out a couple of weeks back in his editorial in Ami you have a goal. Your goal is to discredit the Chachmei Hatorah.
      You can argue with the above till you are hoarse. But charedim have 2000 years of experience how to weed out those who have ulterior motives like yourself.
      And we have the 2 millennia experience how to deal with you.
      Sometimes by just ignoring your rants....

      Delete
    3. LOL, how on earth is identifying the shafan as the hyrax about "discrediting the chachmei haTorah"? Doesn't it occur to you that someone might sincerely believe that when the passuk speaks about ibexes and then mentions shafanim hiding in the rocks, that the passuk is speaking about the hyraxes which hide in the rocks near the ibex?

      Also, if you are claiming thousands of years of "charedi" experience teaches you to ignore me, then why are you reading my blog and commenting on it?

      Delete
    4. Moshe from the MirMarch 9, 2015 at 7:59 PM

      David, if you are concerned about "discrediting the chachmei hatorah" by saying that the Rishonim from Europe didn't know about hyraxes, then I would have thought you would be vastly more concerned by Rav Moshe Meiselman, who says that ALL the Rishonim and Acharonim were wrong in how they explained various sugyos!

      Delete
    5. "charedim have 2000 years of experience"

      A neat trick, considering that charedim haven't been around for longer than 200 years, if that.

      Before you get huffy, neither has Modern Orthodoxy.

      Delete
  13. Eli, why are you speaking diplomatically?

    Close to 30 leading Rabbinical authorities have signed and published letters against Slifkin books, nobody else needs to try to "discredit" him...

    BG

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    1. Boruch, please be specific: It's more than 30, and it's leading *Charedi* rabbinic authorities. Outside of the charedi world, my books are regarded as being perfectly normative and accurately reflecting a long rationalist tradition within Judaism. The people who are against my books are the same people who are against Rambam and Rav Hirsch.

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    2. Can you provide one approbation letter from outside of the Chareidi world, approving your new animal encyclopedia?

      BG

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    3. There are four letters of praise on the website. But I encourage you to use your own brain to evaluate the book.

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    4. (But if you're afraid to trust your own judgment, and you don't trust me or any of the people who praised the book, then go ahead and play it safe and don't read it.)

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    5. Thanks for acknowledging that you do not have any approbation letter for your animal encyclopedia even from outside of the chareidi world.

      BG

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    6. Eh? I have four. Besides, honestly, what on earth do you think non - charedim would find remotely objectionable in this book?

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    7. (Non-charedim don't even have a problem with my "controversial" books - they regard the charedi gedolim as being completely off the mark - kal v'chomer they wouldn't have a problem with this book!)

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    8. Thanks for acknowledging that you do not have any approbation letter printed in your new animal encyclopedia even from any leading Rabbinical authority outside of the chareidi world.

      BG

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    9. Goodness, you are very peculiar, and you talk exactly like Isaac Betech.

      So I take it that your point is to claim that the rabbis who praised my book are not "leading Rabbinical authorities." Well, naturally you would say that. Of course, outside of your circles, people consider RabbI Wein, Rabbi Adlerstein, Rabbi Dr Zivotofsky and Dr. Zohar Amar to all be vastly more qualified to give an opinion on my writings than the charedi gedolim.

      Personally I am extremely proud to have a warm endorsement from the world's greatest expert in biblical zoology, Dr. Zohar Amar, printed in the book. And the book is co-published by the OU, which means that they had Rav Schechter and/or Rav Belsky approve it. But you probably don't eat OU food.

      In any case, if you are too afraid or too uneducated to evaluate the information on my book on its own merits, then feel free not to read it.

      But again, please answer my question (and I won't print further comments from you until you answer it): What on earth do you think non-charedi rabbinic authorities would find remotely objectionable in this book?

      Delete
  14. Rav Slifkin

    Congratulations on your Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom!, I have seen the table of contents and looks very interesting.

    BTW, is Rav Berel Wein (the famous Jewish history author) also an expert in Torah Zoology?

    Mike

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  15. You write "the people who are against my books are the same people who are against the works of Rambam and Rav Hirch"
    Can you please explain that comment. In charedi yeshivos and charedi homes one can find the works of Rambam (including the Moreh) and the works of Rabbi SRH yet never seen your works on the bookshelves?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, I meant *specific* works.
      The Moreh is only allowed because nobody reads it. Rav Elyashiv told Rav Aharon Feldman (I heard this from him) that he would oppose printing a popular, readable edition of the Moreh just as he was opposed to my books.
      The writings of RSRH on Torah and science are exactly what the Gedolim condemned as kefirah. (Some of them insisted that it was a forgery.) That's why Artscroll didn't include them in Shemesh Marpeh.

      Delete
  16. Since Rav Berel Wein is not an expert in Torah Zoology then why he is vastly more qualified to give an opinion on your writings than the Chareidi Gedolim?

    Mike

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    Replies
    1. Because (a) he actually read what I wrote, and (b), if you are referring to my books that the charedi Gedolim banned, Rav Wein is more familiar with the history of Jewish thought and the Maimonidean controversies than the charedi Gedolim.
      WIth the encyclopedia, the experts on the topic that praised it are Zohar Amar and Ari Zivotofsky.

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    2. I was referring to the new encyclopedia.
      BTW, Dr. Ari Zivotofsky has published something about the hyrax?
      Mike

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    3. Why do you say that Rav Belsky approves your encyclopedia if he approved the book of Betech where he says that the shafan is the rabbit and not the hyrax ?

      Mike

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    4. You'll have to ask Rav Belsky. Maybe he changed his mind. Or maybe even if he thinks that the shafan is the rabbit, he thinks that it's legitimate for people to believe otherwise.

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  17. Do you have any evidence that Rav Belsky was involved in the OU Press decision regarding co-publishing your encyclopedia?

    Mike

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  18. The fact remains - and it is a dreadful shame - that until you have a "chareidi godol" review and approve the book, your possibly marvellous work will remain unavailable to those Chareidim who would otherwise be interested in buying it but are (justifiably) nervous that your works contain controversial passages, given your history with this.

    Why not find a chareidi godol to review any parts you feel are somewhat controversial and give a haskomah? Is that impossible?

    ReplyDelete

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