Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It's Jumping Elephant Day!

Today is when Daf Yomi reaches the Case of The Jumping Elephant! You can download my essay on this topic at this link.

Y'know, it's funny. There were people who went crazy with me for saying that one of the Tosafists never saw an elephant. On the other hand, Rabbi Moshe Meiselman says that all of the Rishonim were repeatedly wrong in their basic understanding of several topics in the Gemara! I am waiting for Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel to be consistent and to condemn Rabbi Meiselman, too.

Meanwhile, I am still receiving objections to this topic. Somebody wrote to me yesterday, arguing that Tosafos could be understood as referring to an elephant jumping in the water, or on a trampoline! I kid you not!

(See too this post: Sugar for Elephants)


via GIPHY

16 comments:

  1. Interesting stuff! On a different but closely related note, I've noticed that chazal say in several different places that the ostrich eats glass. I found nothing in any encyclopedia or online source to back that up, though I did see that they are attracted to shiny objects. Any insight?

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    1. "Ostriches will eat almost anything shiny. Some have been known to eat watches, bottle caps, glass, locks, bicycle valves, and even alarm clocks." (http://www.zoobooks.com/?page_id=1368)

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  2. Somebody wrote to my yesterday, arguing that Tosafos could be understood as referring to an elephant jumping in the water, or on a trampoline!

    What was he thinking? Maybe in E"Y, but everyone knows that trampolines were unknown in Europe in medieval times.

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  3. Is your original article on the jumping elephant available? (I don't believe the linked article is the original one...)

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    1. I'm pretty sure that is the original one.

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    2. On page 9 of the article linked above, you quote a line from your original article and then write that you could have written that particular line with more finesse. It's obvious that the article linked above is not the original article.

      I also have a vague memory of an artist rendition of an elephant with long legs (described in the linked article, but no picture appears.) I believe that figure appeared in the original article.

      Is the original article available?

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  4. To clarify what I wrote previously, I remember a different artists' rendition besides the one that appears in this version.

    Regardless, I think the part where you quote yourself on page 9 indicates that this is not your original essay on this topic.

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    Replies
    1. The reference on p. 9 is to the original and brief email that I sent to the students who asked me about this topic and launched this chapter.

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  5. See also here where you refer to an "updated edition"
    http://zootorah.blogspot.com/2008/10/jumping-elephant-returns.html

    The link there happens to not work, but I think it's pretty clear there was an "original"

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  6. The link to "the case of the jumping elephant" is not working.

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  7. I would like to offer an out-of-the-box interpretation. Tosafot was being sarcastic. As you write in the article, the whole purpose was to raise difficulty with hagba'ah as the sole method of acquisition.

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  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnqCej0P3s0

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  9. To Rav Slifkin's critics, try repeating after me. On this specific case Tosfos is w-r-o-n-g (as our sources are vis-a-vis where the sun goes at night, spontaneous generation and other assorted things). There, you said it. Did the world, or your emunah, collapse. I'm pretty sure the world didn't & I hope your emunah isn't so rickety as to be unable to deal with admitting that our sources can be (and someimes are) wrong on scientific & historical matters.

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