Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Camel, The Hare And The Hyrax

The pesukim about the camel, the hare and the hyrax, which appear in this week's parashah, have been used by many to argue for the Divine authorship of the Torah, based on the claim that these are the only animals with one kosher sign; while others use it to argue against the Divine authorship of the Torah, claiming that these verses contain biological errors. My book on this topic, The Camel, The Hare And The Hyrax, is available at the museum, at select bookstores, and online at this link. There's also a lot of information in The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom, which you can buy at this link, and also download the chapter on the hyrax FREE! But meanwhile, here is a summary of the topic, based on the final chapter of The Camel, The Hare And The Hyrax.

Summary

1. The Torah lists four animals that possess only one kosher sign.

2. The Talmud, following its own principles of drawing additional meaning from words in the Torah, infers that the Torah’s list is exhaustive.

3. Elsewhere, the Talmud states that this topic argues for the Divine origins of the Torah, but the meaning of this is disputed:

Approach A: The simple reading of Rashi is that the argument refers to Moshe being familiar with the physiology of the four animals in the list.

Approach B: Alternately, one can argue that it refers to Moshe knowing all the local animals that possess one kosher sign.

Approach C: Tosafos explains that it refers to Moshe knowing about an animal called the shesuah, but this is a difficult explanation, as the simple reading of the verse does not indicate that the shesuah is a type of animal.

Approach D: Beginning in the eighteenth century, it was claimed that the Talmud’s argument refers to the Torah saying that there are no other such animals in the entire world. This argument rests upon (a) the boldness of the claim and (b) the veracity of it (as per point 2 above).

4. Making an argument from the boldness of the claim is fundamentally flawed, as there is no claim in the Torah that there are only four animals in the world possessing one kosher sign. Simply speaking, they are presented merely as examples from the region of the Land of Israel that were a particular dietary risk for the Jewish People. The idea that the list is specified as being exhaustive would only be accepted by someone with an a priori belief in the divine origins of the Talmud.

5. The lamoids and peccaries from South America also possess only one kosher sign. To posit that they are of the same min as camels and pigs (respectively) can only be done with a novel definition of min that grants a high degree of unspecified flexibility in categorizing new species under the Torah’s preexisting range of types. Accordingly, making an argument out of the exclusivity of the list is greatly weakened.

6. There is overwhelming evidence (discussed in chapters six and seven) that the shafan and arneves are the hyrax and the hare, and there are no alternative viable candidates. Positing the existence of extinct and unknown species is not viable in this case, for reasons explained at length in chapter four.

7. According to all evidence, the hare does not bring up the cud. To resolve this problem, we must say that the term ma’aleh gerah is an idiom that refers to such phenomena as ruminant-style chewing or cecotrophy, and/or to invoke the concept that "the Torah speaks as in the language of men." These approaches are viable, albeit somewhat difficult.

8. There are conflicting reports as to whether the hyrax regurgitates its food. Based on my own extensive observations of hyraxes, it appears that they do sometimes regurgitate small amounts. It is likely that the hyrax practices merycism, which can be defined as ma’aleh gerah without difficulty. If it does not practice merycism, then it can only be defined as ma’aleh gerah on the basis of its manner of chewing, probably requiring us to invoke the concept that “the Torah speaks as in the language of men.” As with the hare, these approaches are viable, albeit somewhat difficult.

9. Since we are forced to define characteristics such as merycism, ruminant-style chewing or cecotrophy as ma’aleh gerah, then there are still further types of animals that possess only one kosher sign, even with our novel flexible definition of min.

10. These further examples of animals with one kosher sign raise a problem with the Talmud, which apparently claims that the Torah’s list is exhaustive. However, there are two approaches which explain the Talmud in a way that avoids this problem:

• The Talmud is only making a statement about the exclusivity of the camel (due to it being the only ma’aleh gerah animal that is domesticated, or that lacks upper teeth, or that is a true ruminant); but the hare and hyrax may indeed share their characteristics with other animals. This only leaves the problem of the lamoids, which can perhaps be rated as a type of camel, albeit with some difficulty.

• The Talmud is only giving a rule for the general region surrounding the Land of Israel, but there may indeed be other such animals in remote regions of the world. This fits well with how various other seemingly universal rules in the Talmud are explained by other authorities - including Chazal themselves! - as only referring to local animals.

133 comments:

  1. RDNS: and there are no alternative viable candidates.
    LL: Why is it more reasonable to say that an animal that is not MG, by most definitions, is the Shafan? If we argue that the Llama family is the Shafan, then it is quite possible that Hashem showed the Llama to Moshe, who in turn showed it to the Jewish people. Yet since the Llama is not native to the area, and a millenium past, the name got transposed over time, so that by the time the great kings ruled, people called the hyrax the Shafan.

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    1. Chazal were familiar with the shafan and arneves of the Torah. (Hence the story about the seventy Sages changing the translation of it into Greek, etc.)

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    2. RDNS:
      Chazal were familiar with the shafan and arneves of the Torah. (Hence the story about the seventy Sages changing the translation of it into Greek, etc.)

      LL: Chazal were familiar with what they thought was the Shafan and translated it into Greek. But if the name had been transposed, then they may have gotten it incorrect.

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    3. @LL

      I agree that the Shafan can possibly be the Llama based on the issues raised about it not being MG. But for a few reasons I think the hyrax fits the bill a bit better:

      (1) The Llama is closely related to the Camel (Gamal). I would find it strange that the Torah would list 4 animals, where 3 of them are clearly different (Pig, Camel, Arnevet), and it would therefore just seem to fit better that the Shafan is a novel animal.

      (2) If you are uncomfortable with defining the Shafan as non-MG animal (Hyrax) then I imagine you do not like the pshat of the Arnevet being the hare. If so, my first point falls by the waist side. If we say that the Gamal, Shafan, and Arnevet are all camel-like animals (like the R Zollinger opinion cited below) then it would all fit (and the pig is different since it has the opposite sign).
      But why would the Torah list 3 animals that are so similar, and why did it end at these 3?
      (I myself don't hold of the opinion that "every superfluous word" in the Torah needs to be teaching something new, but I don't feel that would be the case when a list of 3 separate animals is listed.)

      (3) I like your idea about how over time people mistakenly thought the Hyrax was the Shafan. It definitely makes sense.
      Are there other examples of this to back up that point? If not, I would therefore say the more simple approach is to say that the Shafan was always the Hyrax, and that the issue at hand is how to properly define MG.

      It seems to me that it could be boiled down to one main point:
      The hyrax/hare approach implies it was chazal that misunderstood MG, while the Llama approach implies David and Shlomo Hamelech misunderstood the Shafan. Is that correct?

      Looking forward to hearing your thoughts

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    4. I agree that the Shafan can possibly be the Llama based on the issues raised about it not being MG. But for a few reasons I think the hyrax fits the bill a bit better:

      (1) The Llama is closely related to the Camel (Gamal). I would find it strange that the Torah would list 4 animals, where 3 of them are clearly different (Pig, Camel, Arnevet), and it would therefore just seem to fit better that the Shafan is a novel animal.
      (2) If you are uncomfortable with defining the Shafan as non-MG animal (Hyrax) then I imagine you do not like the pshat of the Arnevet being the hare. If so, my first point falls by the waist side. If we say that the Gamal, Shafan, and Arnevet are all camel-like animals (like the R Zollinger opinion cited below) then it would all fit (and the pig is different since it has the opposite sign).
      But why would the Torah list 3 animals that are so similar, and why did it end at these 3?
      (I myself don't hold of the opinion that "every superfluous word" in the Torah needs to be teaching something new, but I don't feel that would be the case when a list of 3 separate animals is listed.)
      LL: There are 6 animals in the llamoid family. Bactrian Camel, Dromedary Camel, Llama, Alpaca, Guanaco and Vicuna. I consider the BC and the DC to be the Gamal. I consider the Shafan to be the other 4 (llamas). The Arneves I consider to be extinct. This works great with the past, present and future of the pesukim as per Rabbi Meyer Lubin. The camel is listed in the present tense, and it was certainly in Egypt and Israel at the time of Matan Torah. The Shafan was not available in the MidEast, hence the future tense, that one day the Jewish people will know about these animals from South America. The Arneves is an extinct animal, which will one day be revived by science. All these animals are true cud chewers, albeit that they only have 3 stomachs while the other kosher animals have four.



      (3) I like your idea about how over time people mistakenly thought the Hyrax was the Shafan. It definitely makes sense.
      Are there other examples of this to back up that point? If not, I would therefore say the more simple approach is to say that the Shafan was always the Hyrax, and that the issue at hand is how to properly define MG.

      It seems to me that it could be boiled down to one main point:
      The hyrax/hare approach implies it was chazal that misunderstood MG, while the Llama approach implies David and Shlomo Hamelech misunderstood the Shafan. Is that correct?

      LL: To say that the hyrax or hare are MG, is to imply that the Torah got it wrong. To say that the name got transposed over time means that people got it wrong. Which scenario do you prefer?
      Another example of transposition is pointed out by RDNS, regarding the Europeans not knowing the true meaning of Tzvi. See rashi Chulin 59b dh vharei tzvi.

      Looking forward to hearing your thoughts
      LL: you got it.

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  2. Rabbi Slifkin, are you familiar with the the writings of Rabbi Dr. Yosef Zelliger?
    In research he conducted about 150 or so years ago he concluded that the Hare and the Hyrax don't chew their cud. Since the Torah states that these animals chew their cud it certainly can't be referring to these animals.
    He posits a much more compelling argument that these animals are the Alpaca family which are native to South America. These animals like the camel truly chew their cud.
    Further proof is the Torah's use of the future tense in reference to these animals which were indeed discovered at a later point.

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    1. "Rabbi Slifkin, are you familiar with the the writings of Rabbi Dr. Yosef Zelliger?"
      I'm familiar with everything that has been written on this topic.
      It's not reasonable to posit that the reference is no alpacas/llamas when they are described in Navi and Chazal as familiar animals.

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    2. @Natan Slifkin

      (1) can you please provide the other places in Tanach that "אַרְנֶ֗בֶת" and "שָּׁפָ֗ן" appear? I am not finding them. If indeed there are no other instances that these animals are found, and in addition to a lot of the concerns you raised in your article, is it not safe to assume that we just don't know what animals these are referring to?

      (2) I don't know about you, but the peccary looks like a pig to me. Is it so off the mark to say they are part of the "chazir" family?

      (3) You mentioned that the lamoids are another example of something with one sign. Is it a coincidence that they are of the same family as the Alpaca family, which R Zelliger posited? Based on the evidence pointing to the hare not chewing its cud, wouldn't it be a safer bet to say that the "shafan" is the Alpaca, instead of having to redefine what "maleh geira" means?
      For me, re-identifying an animal is a lot simpler than re-defining a descriptive term. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

      (I understand that the details of what's considered a "min" are likely discussed in your book. But if you could provide a brief explanation that would be great.)

      @Rafi
      The Torah seems to use future tense for the "אַרְנֶ֗בֶת" but not for the "שָּׁפָ֗ן", and it's only in the context of the "מַּפְרִסֵ֖י הַפַּרְסָ֑ה" aspect, not the chewing of the cud. I don't know if I'd classify this as "proof", but would like to hear your thoughts on it.

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    3. @Natan Slifkin

      I do realize that recognizing the Shafan as the Alpaca is problematic in that it seems to be part of the same family as the "gamal". Suggesting that we are dealing with 2 animals from the camel family (gamal, shafan) and 1 from the rabbit family wouldn't fit well with the pasuk, and I see the advantage of suggesting that the Shafan refers to a 3rd different type of animal.
      Based on the evidence that the hare doesn't chew it's cud, could it be referring to another animal? Does anyone suggest this?

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    4. @Natan Slifkin

      I am truly sorry about having to write multiple separate points. I should have done all the research before writing.

      The places in Tanach that the Shafanim come up are Tehillim 104:18 and Mishlei 30:26 both of which say that they relate to "sela'im".
      I find both of these examples incomplete, however, without analyzing the verses that surround them. In Mishlei, the "Shefanim" are 1 of 4 other creatures mentioned. The other 3 are all insects, which imply the "Shefanim" are insect-like.
      The verse in Tehilim discusses "Tzipor" and "Chasidah". Seeing that the common pattern of poetry in Tanach often repeats the same term but in different words, it would seem that he "Shafan" would somehow parallel the "ya'el".
      Is the Hyrax meant to be somehow a safe medium between an insect and an ibex? Kinda makes sense.

      On another note: the verse about the "chassidah" says that the "beroshim" are its home. It seems the translation of "chassidah" is stork, and the evidence shows that storks live in trees that are in swamps and watery areas, but "beroshim" are translated as Junipers, which are not found by water, and are actually harmed by too much water. So is "chassidah" mistranslated? Is "beroshim" mistranslated?

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    5. Chasidah is a stork, berosh is probably a cedar. The other three creatures in Mishlei are not all insects.
      Look, you seem to be interested in this topic. So why not actually read my book?

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    6. @Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin (you changed your name!)

      Fascinating. There is a type of cedar, the Red Cedar, that is indeed found in watery areas and is part of the Juniperus family, so it could fit.

      You're right. A spider is not an insect per se, nevertheless all those 3 creatures are not at all like the Hyrax. But I guess the Hyrax is quite unique. And it matches the exile of Medes/Persia (referenced in your chapter) that was unique in that it was the only of the 4 exiles that did not destroy or desecrate the Temple.

      I am definitely open to reading your books. I'd probably start with the Challenge of Creation before this one though. In due time! Until then, it seems clear to me that the lamoids are part of the "gamal" and the peccaries are part of the "chazir".

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  3. It seems obvious to me that Chazal were well aware of the hyrax not chewing its cud, but it did not seem to bother them. Although their knowledge of biology was most certainly incomplete, in regards to animal that lived among them they should have immediately realized that it does not chew its cud. Thus, it's obvious that even Chazal understood Maaleh Gayrah in an unusual sense, but it didn't bother them - so much so they felt no need to point it out.

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    1. I don't think that Chazal were aware of it. It certainly looks like it chews the cud.

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    2. I am curious to understand more in detail why you believe chazal was not aware of this fact. What is unique about merycism that the ancient people would not have been aware about? The above speculation of the previous commenter is just as plausible as saying they did not know.

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    3. When you see an animal that appears to chew its cud, there's no reason to think otherwise and investigate.

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  4. RDNS: Chazal were familiar with the shafan and arneves of the Torah. (Hence the story about the seventy Sages changing the translation of it into Greek, etc.)

    But if the Llama family had only been seen by the Dor Hamidbar, why is it not possible that Chazal thought that the Shafan was the Hyrax, and passed that info on to future generations?

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    1. And Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech also got it wrong?

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    2. They are in the books of Prophets, as they were certainly prophets of God?
      As prophets, they would certainly be knowledgeable about these animals.

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    3. If no one had seen one for a thousand years, and there were none to be seen in their vicinity, why not?

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    4. So David was speaking about the llama? Gosh, he was really out to mislead his audience!

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    5. NO. Dovid Hamelech thought that a hyrax was a shafan, made the same mistake as you! But Hashem who showed Moshe the Shafan, which is a llama.

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  5. Is your book available for purchase in digital format?

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  6. You make a mockery of the Torah by claiming that if something looks like cud chewing it is.
    We have pages of gemarah to demonstrate when something is to not be taken literally, such as an eye for an eye. However, nowhere does the gemarah discuss not taking chewing the cud literally as you claim

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    1. Right, because Chazal thought that these animals really do chew the cud. Likewise, Chazal do not say that references to the firmament being a flat surface or to the kidneys housing the mind are not literal, that's only a recent suggestions.

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    2. Huh? How do you compare taking the words of the Torah literally vs taking the words of chazal literally?!

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    3. Animals have frequently become extinct in various areas. There is no reason not to believe that this is indeed what happened to the Shafan and Arneves in Asia/Africa. Instead of making up silly ideas that when an animal makes facial expressions it's called chewing the cud, that absolute nonsense!

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    4. It is the words of Torah, not Chazal.
      There is every reason to believe that the Shafan and Arnevet are not extinct, as discussed in my book.

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    5. @Pinchus

      I think he's saying that we are indeed taking chazal literally when they said the animals were chewing the cud. But what chazal was saying was somehow inaccurate because it only looked like it was chewing the cud on the surface, when the inner mechanisms (which chazal did not know about) were not cud-chewing per se.

      I guess the choice is to say the Torah was speaking about unknown extinct animals that we will never meet (as you suggested), or that chazal could have possibly been wrong, or at least their qualifications need to be redefined. This is a general hashkafic issue. There was nothing on this thread that should insult anybody, so I'm not sure why you're starting the whole "you make a mockery" point. Try having a genuine discussion about the matter at hand without launching insults.


      Side question for you: was it that the "eye for an eye" was in fact not to be taken literally from the get-go, or that chazal were medaresh "eye for an eye" in a non-literal way so as to create a framework of Jewish law that matched normative society?
      Does it have to be one way or the other? Can both approaches work?

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    6. There is no particular reason that Biblical or Talmudic usage should be expected to correspond exactly to modern technical usage. Just as the Biblical "min" does not correspond to any modern taxonomic level. Or how in colloquial English "shellfish" refers to some molluscs and crustaceans, despite those being different phyla, neither of which is a fish.

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  7. These further examples of animals with one kosher sign raise a problem with the Talmud, which apparently claims that the Torah’s list is exhaustive.

    Not a problem at all. When Torah refers for example to camel, she did not have to list all variations of camels, like cameloids.

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  8. Why don't you quote the Talmund source When I learned it it seem to state that this proves the Torah was divine.

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    1. Look, I can't put up my whole book as a blog post! I discuss it extensively in the book.

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    2. The Talmudic source says that we know that God spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai because Moshe was not a hunter or trapper, yet he brought down information about animals. The argument is not that there were divine secrets that no one could know, but that there was information outside the expertise of Moshe that others could verify as true. Since he was up there alone, his claim to have talked to God must be true. I think that is the Gemara's logic.

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    3. @DO

      What information did Moshe bring down from Har Sinai regarding animals that any shepherd of over 40 years would not know?

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    4. I am neither a shepherd nor a hunter, but if you a shepherd, you presumably know about sheep and may some predators. Would you know about all other animals that are mentioned? I don't know. A shepherd is not a hunter. If there is no difference, then the Gemara's claim is not well-founded. But that is the argument it made.

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  9. RDNS: When you see an animal that appears to chew its cud, there's no reason to think otherwise and investigate.

    LL: That is ok for mankind, but Hashem knows whether an animal is MG or not, and if he says it is MG, then it is not the Hare or Hyrax.

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    1. Let's apply your line of argument elsewhere:

      If Hashem says that the tal falls from the heavens, then tal is not dew (since dew coalesces from the air).

      If Hashem says that the klayos and the lev house the mind, then they are not the kidneys and heart.

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    2. Can you please provide the sources for these 2 statements?

      Thanks

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    3. @LL

      If you are comfortable with saying that David Ha'Melech, Shlomo Ha'Melech, and Chazal all got the identity of the Shafan wrong, why is it not possible that you (and possibly chazal) are misunderstanding what "maalat Gerah" means? The word "gerah" throughout Tanach has multiple meanings, which suggests it's not as simple as we think.

      I think this is a key point you have yet to address. Looking forward to hearing your approach.

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    4. If Hashem says that the tal falls from the heavens, then tal is not dew (since dew coalesces from the air).

      If Hashem says that the klayos and the lev house the mind, then they are not the kidneys and heart.

      This is a serious matter of being kosher Not some poetic expression

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    5. Who are you to decide that something is merely a poetic expression and furthermore that this means that it does not need to be based on any kind of reality?

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    6. Same problem as with the bible codes too much wiggle room to prove any point

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    7. @Dynamic

      Um. I don't see how the notion of the poetic style of Tanach and/or "dibrah Torah k'lashon bnei Adam" has anything to do with bible codes.

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  10. @N8ZL

    The difference is that MG was always around from time immemorial, so father to son could teach what it means. If the Shafan was the Llama, the only people who saw it were the Dor Hamidbor. The gemara chulin 42a says that Hashem showed all the animals to Moshe. That would mean all, even those that were not native to the MEast. Since the animal did not exist in the Middle East, it is very easy for the name to be transposed to an animal that did exist there - the hyrax. So it is no great question why DH or SH referred to the Shafan in Tehilim and Mishlei, they had no reason to think that what Yishai called the Shafan wasn't a Shafan.

    But the Torah that says a Shafan is MG, was referring to an animal that really is MG, the Llama family.

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    1. @Llama Llama

      I see your point. But if MG was there from time immemorial and father could teach son, they why don't we say that about the identity of the Shafan? Even if the animal existed outside of MEast, if the identity was clearly delineated back from Moshe's time, then I can't see why confusion would be more applicable to the Shafan than to MG.
      If a Hyrax had a similar physical appearance as a Llama, then I totally see your logic that the name could have been transposed. But seeing that they are entirely different, I find it a major stretch that a pre-existing name of an entirely different animal was now applied to a Hyrax.

      Saying that "maalat gerah" simply means "appears as if its maalat gerah" does not have to mean that "the Torah got it wrong". Is it not a basic viable approach that "dibrah Torah k'lashon bnei Adam"?
      I mean, many of the early non-Ashkenazic commentators were very comfortable expressing that certain stories in the Torah (yes, in the Torah) were allegory, and that the Torah was trying to convey a message of truth even if it didn't happen in physical reality. If that's a general approach to Torah, then is it really an issue to say that "maalat gerah" was written in a manner for mankind to understand it as easy as possible, without it having "gotten it wrong"?

      "Another example of transposition is pointed out by RDNS, regarding the Europeans not knowing the true meaning of Tzvi. See rashi Chulin 59b dh vharei tzvi."
      Fascinating. Thanks for that source. What are the two animals being confused? Rashi mentions the "steenbok", an animal that lives in East Africa. It's practically identical to a deer (look up some photos), so I completely get it that a "tzvi" can be transposed from a deer to a steenbok. But I cannot see that a "shafan" can be transposed from a llama to a hyrax.

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    2. Wasn't the Targum Shivim done with Ruach Hakodesh? Why was there a problem in translating Arneves as llama?

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    3. RDNS: Wasn't the Targum Shivim done with Ruach Hakodesh? Why was there a problem in translating Arneves as llama?

      LL: The translation was Tzeiras Raglaim...which means short legs, very appropos to the future to be known llamas, which had shorter legs then the known camels.

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    4. @LL

      One other point I forgot to mention. You mentioned that the arnevet is an extinct animal. If the Gamal and Shafan both belong to the camel family, then it would make the most sense that the Arnevet would belong to this same family. From what I could see, there is only one member of the camel family that has become extinct, C. hesternus, but that was long before the Torah was given. You'd therefore have to say that (a) The Torah was speaking of C. Hesternus, an animal that hasn't been around for thousands of years, (b) the Torah is speaking about another member of the camel family that has become extinct since the time of the Torah but we haven't found it yet, or that (c) The Arnevet wasn't a camel-like animal, and thereby presents an irregular pattern in the Gamal-Shafan-Arnevet trio (you would also have to narrow down a cud-chewing animal that has become extinct since the Torah, or else you'd still face the issues of choice a and b).

      For me, all of these options carry with them a lot of improbabilities (in addition to all the other issues mentioned above), and the simplest approach that solves everything is that MG is not as simple as you make it out to be.

      Looking forward!

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    5. 1. Why wouldn't they just translate it as Llama? That wouldn't be offensive to Ptolemy, his family name was Lagos, not llama.
      2. The translation was actually Seiras HaRaglayim (dasypous in Greek). Tzeiras Haraglayim is a corruption.
      3. Nobody in their right mind would ever refer to a llama as "little legs."

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    6. RDNS: Why wouldn't they just translate it as Llama?

      LL: Because Llama's hadn't been discovered yet, so they were only told seiras haraglayim, but they did not know at the time that it referred to the llama family.

      RDNS: Nobody in their right mind would ever refer to a llama as "little legs."

      LL: In contrast to the larger camel family, little (shorter) legs makes perfect sense to me.

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    7. Good grief, you seem really desperate.
      If you were coming up with a name for a llama, you might call it "little camel", or "humpless camel." You wouldn't call it "little legs."

      Besides, as I pointed out, that wasn't actually the translation. It was SEIRAS haraglayim - "hairy foot."

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    8. I and my cousins (alpaca, quanaco, vicuna) do have hairy feet!

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  11. This whole approach of saying the Shafan and Arneves are the Hyrax and Hare doesn't get off the ground.

    When the Torah says the Kosher animals chew their cud it means actually chewing the cud. When the Torah says the camel chews it's cud it means actually chewing the cud.

    When the Torah says the Shafan and Arneves chew their cud, there is no reason to maintain that they don't actually chew their cud like their kosher and non Kosher counterparts.

    To suggest that moving the mouth in a fashion similar to cud chewing is maleh geirah, just doesn't hold water. Most animals in the world would fit that criteria in that case. There is nothing in the world unique about the Hare and Hyrax as far as not having split hooves since all non Kosher animals don't have split hooves, but paws like bears, cats and dogs etc. Most animals also make chewing expressions as well.

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    1. "Most animals in the world would fit that criteria in that case."
      No. The point is that they make lateral chewing movements with their mouths even while they are not grazing. They are the only animals (in this part of the world) to do so. That's why until very recently nobody challenged the Torah's account that the hare and hyrax are maale gerah- because people thought they genuinely are ruminants.

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    2. @So What

      "When the Torah says the Kosher animals chew their cud it means actually chewing the cud"

      Are you implying that every word in the Torah is meant to be taken literally?

      Delete
  12. An article in this week's Olam Katan by Prof. Zohar Amar (you are also mentioned) - see http://www.olam-katan.co.il/%D7%A4%D7%A8%D7%A9%D7%AA-%D7%A9%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A2/item/4877-%D7%9E%D7%99-%D7%9E%D7%A4%D7%97%D7%93-%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A4%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9D

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    1. @SA

      Thanks for that! I didn't quite follow the part at the end. Who was it exactly that he requested permission to analyze the Shafnei Sela who turned him down?

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  13. See the Vilna Goan on Parshat Shemeni. He explains the Gemarah in Yoma 9b that the later generations exile is compared to the non Kosher animals which are malaih geirah. The Gemarah calls this the stomach which is hidden is vs toe nail (split hooves) which are revealed.

    The medrash B'R, also compares the exile who's end hasn't been revealed (our current exile) to the non Kosher animal who chews it's cud.

    Since this is the case, clearly malaih geirah is an internal siman and not an external looking like chewing it's cud siman. Rashi also learns malaih geirah as an internal siman. I don't see how you can get around this.

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    1. @Yehuda

      With respect, I don't see how midrashic allegorical interpretation can be used as an intelligent approach with any sensible basis to corroborate something scientific and factual.

      In addition, the "exile who's end hasn't been revealed" is not even referenced in Vayikrah Rabbah 13:5. Only the exiles of Bavel, Paras, Madai, and Yavan were linked to the four animals, while that of the current exile isn't even mentioned. This in of itself demonstrates that there is not a unanimous opinion on this allegorical approach, which had no rational basis to begin with.

      Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this

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  14. Dear Natan,
    on the point 7 could you explain me (the vet) why should the rabbit be more problematic than the hare, they have very close alimentary physiology. beside this I don't like this hypothesis because in a torah perspective they are both shrotsim like rats, I prefer the llama hypothesis base on a diuk in the verse, by the gamal the verb pores is in the present tense because it was known in the region in this time, by the arneves (bractian camel) it is in the past tense it was known in the time of the patriarchs but already absent in Moses time, by the shafan it is in the future tense, it will only be known later, ok it's only an allusion (not mine but I don't remember the author's name), and beside a bactrian camel has wool (tsemer arnevet) a hare don't.

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    1. Rabbit and hare are the same for our purposes. But rabbits didn't live in Biblical lands and hence are not mentioned in the Torah. In later periods, rabbits were more familiar and were included with the name arnevet.
      Neither hares not hyraxes are sheratzim.
      The diyuk about future tense of yafris is just plain silly. No other word for it.

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    2. @ Michel @RDNS

      I think Michel's strongest comment is about how hares are more like shratzim, and therefore they wouldn't belong to the category of animals being discussed in the section of the gamal. That is a great point.

      RNS, can you please elaborate on what are sheratzim and what are not. Why would hares and hyraxes not be included in the pasuk (Vayikra 11:29):
      זֶ֤ה לָכֶם֙ הַטָּמֵ֔א בַּשֶּׁ֖רֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵ֣ץ עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ הַחֹ֥לֶד וְהָֽעַכְבָּ֖ר וְהַצָּ֥ב לְמִינֵֽהוּ

      I feel like I can think of an answer on my own, but I'd greatly appreciate your input on this one.

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    3. RDNS: The diyuk about future tense of yafris is just plain silly. No other word for it.

      LL: I don't think there is any other place in the Torah where all 3 tenses are used in close proximity. There obviously seems to be a message in that, and I wouldn't label it "Silly". Do you have an explanation for Yafris/future tense?

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    4. "RNS, can you please elaborate on what are sheratzim and what are not. Why would hares and hyraxes not be included in the pasuk (Vayikra 11:29):"

      First of all, your answer is right there - the animals listed in that passuk do not include the hare and hyrax! While there is some dispute over the identities of the eight sheratzim, nobody has ever, ever suggested that they refer to a hare or hyrax.

      Second, there is no clear definition of what a sheretz is. It has something to do with an animal being small, but that's about as much as one can clearly say. But hares and hyraxes are not particularly small.

      Third, since there is no clear distinction between sheretz and chayah, why wouldn't the Torah see fit to explicitly prohibit even a sheretz if it is large and has a kosher sign?

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    5. "Do you have an explanation for Yafris/future tense?"

      Pretty much any other explanation, including "I have no idea," is better than claiming that the future tense of "it shall not form a hoof" means that the animal has not been discovered yet! How does it make sense to talk about it not having a hoof in the future - it already didn't have a hoof! Why is maaleh gerah in present tense?

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    6. RDNS: Pretty much any other explanation, including "I have no idea," is better than claiming that the future tense of "it shall not form a hoof" means that the animal has not been discovered yet! How does it make sense to talk about it not having a hoof in the future - it already didn't have a hoof! Why is maaleh gerah in present tense?

      LL: If the Torah is trying to say that there are only 4 animals with one siman, and one of them happens to be the llamoids which weren't discovered yet, it seems perfectly sensible to me to say Lo Yafris, that in the future you will discover an animal which chews the cud but doesn't have (split) hooves.

      As for why MG is in the present tense, that could very well be because it was by the midbar when Hashem showed it to Moshe, but it will not be known again until the Americas are discovered. Hence present and future fit hand in glove.

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    7. I agree, "if" the Torah is trying to speak about lamoids, it seems perfectly sensible to say that in the future you will discover an animal which chews the cud but doesn't have (split) hooves. That's exactly what would make perfect sense to say. It does not make sense to say "don't eat the animal that chews the cud and will in the future not have split hooves."

      Delete
  15. N8ZL: If a Hyrax had a similar physical appearance as a Llama, then I totally see your logic that the name could have been transposed. But seeing that they are entirely different, I find it a major stretch that a pre-existing name of an entirely different animal was now applied to a Hyrax.

    LL: If it is true that the Shafan is the LLama family, and LLamas did not exist in EY (being that they reside in South America), then how would anyone a few generations after Dor Hamidbor be able to identify it? As RDNS points out elsewhere, they did not have Encyclopedia Britanica in those days...They were shown it once and that was it. Some years later when their descendants saw the Hyrax of Ein Gedi, and noticed the cud chewing motions, they said that this must be the Shafan! So by the time of the great kings of Israel came on the scene, everyone called the hyrax a Shafan.

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    1. "then how would anyone a few generations after Dor Hamidbor be able to identify it?"
      If we believe in any form of mesorah, then when there was discussion about what each animal referred to, I don't see why it would have been hard for anyone to say "A Shafan is an animal that lives outside of EY but is similar in appearance to a Gamal". That should be sufficient. And if that was the case, there should be no reason that they now took that name and used it for an entirely different animal, IMHO.

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    2. N8ZL: If we believe in any form of mesorah, then when there was discussion about what each animal referred to, I don't see why it would have been hard for anyone to say "A Shafan is an animal that lives outside of EY but is similar in appearance to a Gamal". That should be sufficient. And if that was the case, there should be no reason that they now took that name and used it for an entirely different animal, IMHO.

      LL: That probably worked for a hundred years or so, but did not last the millenium.

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    3. @LL

      A millenium is 1000 years. Shlomo Hamelech built the Temple 480 years after we left Egypt, and David Hamelech wrote Tehilim around then or, more likely, long before that. Just saying that the term "millennium" is an exaggeration and does not match what's written in Tanach.


      I still don't see why it's a problem to say that MG means "appears to chew its cud" externally, to the point that you are forced to backhandedly say that the identity of the Llama was forgotten and then transposed onto a Hyrax (while at the same time falsely using the term "millennium", lol)

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    4. @N8ZL

      You are correct. Make that 1/2 a millenium.
      With regard to the question of what about mesorah for indentification of Shafan, you see that Rashi himself chulin 59B was not concerned with this question.

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    5. @LL

      Rashi there refers to confusion between a "deer" and "steenbok", two animals that are practically identical, as opposed to a "llama" and "hyrax" that are starkly different from one another

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  16. N8ZL Saying that "maalat gerah" simply means "appears as if its maalat gerah" does not have to mean that "the Torah got it wrong". Is it not a basic viable approach that "dibrah Torah k'lashon bnei Adam"?

    LL: I can hear DTKBA with regarding to speech, idiom, etc. But not about getting basic scientific facts incorrect.

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    1. @LL

      Regarding basic scientific facts, what do you say about the examples that RNS gave about dew and the kidneys? The Torah is not a science book. That simple realization alone solves a lot of the issues that people raise when they say science and Torah contradict one another, in my humble opinion.

      Furthermore, the examples I gave about DTKBA were meant to demonstrate that the Torah vernacular was composed for ease of human understanding. Additionally, the signs of the fish are both external. The sign of the split foot is external. I don't think it's a stretch to say that MG was also primarily meant to convey an external sign as well, which has an internal element when it comes to the camel. I think that BN"Y at that time were not expected to cut animals open to understand their inner biology to know what was kosher or not, and that the more rational approach would be that the Torah was referring to visible external signs that a human being can comprehend easily.

      This is an intriguing conversation. Looking forward to learning more.

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    2. N8ZL: Regarding basic scientific facts, what do you say about the examples that RNS gave about dew and the kidneys?

      LL: someone above asked for sources. I would like to see which sources RDNS is using before answering that. If he is referring to the Tal of Yitzchok's Brocha, that is not a problem as the words are coming from the human perception of Yitzchok...

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    3. http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/12/question-of-kidneys-counsel.html

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    4. @LL

      That's okay. I'll go with other scientific facts.
      Let's start with the creation of the world. Pretty basic. Is there scientific support that humans come from dust/earth or that the Sun and Moon were made at the same time and just put into the sky? Or that the moon was put into the sky at the same time as the stars? What about a talking snake? Or how about fitting every animal into a boat, and then having them survive for a year? There are probably countless more; I just started from the beginning.

      Personally, I believe there is endless depth to be garnered from all these stories and how it relates to mankind's purpose in this world, and ultimately Yisrael's purpose. I do think, however, that trying to claim there is scientific basis for these parts of the Torah is often a futile conversation. The Torah is not a science textbook. Contradiction or no contradiction, it's a discussion that often leads to very silly conclusions, and often times turns people off of Torah study or Jewish practice.
      People often argue the converse: saying the Torah speaks allegorically will eventually lead one to believe the laws are allegorical, and will lead one to stop keeping the mitzvos. Indeed, that was the danger of christianity, and is in fact why Ashkenazic commentators began to go against the grain and interpret things literally. One has to know their own strengths and weaknesses and make a mature decision: either believe that the Torah's depth and greatness includes within it unscientific facts and that it's still possible to be shomer Torah and mitzvos, or believe that everything is literal but then be faced with hundreds of questions that only lead to nonsensical answers.

      Furthermore, I don't get why we rush to explain that Reuven having sexual intercourse with Bilhah or the 430 year sojourn in Egypt should not be taken literally, but then we forget that logic when trying to understand other matters of the Torah, and we create irrational arguments in order to preserve the literal reading of the Torah, of which we openly admit is not literal in other instances.

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    5. @N8ZL

      I am a simple llama, and Maaseh Breshis is beyond my ken. However, I do have a Mesorah from time immemorial that my species is Shafan, and when Hashem said that I and my cousins are MG, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

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    6. @LL

      Right. I'll take thats as a "you got me. I don't know". I guess the intellectual part of the conversation ends here?

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    7. @N8ZL

      We can continue to discuss Vayikra intellectually, but Maaseh Breshis is not my expertise. Sorry.

      Whatever happened at creation is a riddle, enigma and mystery. But a passuk with simple biological statements can certainly be translated literally.

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    8. @LL @RDNS

      I respect your response LL. Do you recognize that claiming something "is not my expertise" is just another way of saying "I don't know"? All I'm saying is you asked RDNS for sources in chumash for non-scientific verses and I offered them to you. Therefore, I view those sources, until proven incorrect, as support to the notion that the statement in Vayikra about MG, as well, does not need to be scientifically accurate.

      But let's pretend Vayikra is being scientific:
      How do we know "maalat gerah" even means the internal sign of "chewing cud"? Indeed "maalat" implies some form of "elevation", but where does the word "gerah" imply previously chewed up food that has now risen to the surface? I keep seeing people say that "maalat gerah" incontrovertibly means "cud chewing" but what I'm failing to see is any source in Tanach to support this. For all we know, "maalat gerah" may strictly relate to the external chewing pattern of an animal, and it just so happens to be that (internal) cud-chewers fall within this category, along with a hyrax and hare. Even within the "Torah is scientific" view, is it possible we are jumping to conclusions that these animals have to be cud-chewers based on our preconceived bias of what "maalat gerah" means?
      (I admit I am no expert on this. So if you could provide me with a rebuttal, I will openly retract and go back to my theory that "maalat gerah" can include "appears to be maalat gerah")

      I would be very curious to gain some insight on this. RDNS, feel free to step in here as well.
      Is the word "gerah" related to the word "megerah" which implies something "sliced up"? If that's the only source, I'm afraid it ain't too sharp (pun intended).


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    9. @N8ZL

      I think it makes sense to differentiate between a Mesorah with a "break" and one without. When Hashem told Moshe what MG means, and Moshe passed that info to BY, there were many samples of animals that they were familiar with that performed this action, so it makes sense to say that father to son taught that it means to bring up the cud. As opposed to the Shafan being the llama, there was no animal available to show father to son.

      With regard to your theory that Gerah means sliced up, see RSRH who learns precisely that way. i.e. Gerah means to "saw".

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    10. @LL

      I see your point. But I don't see how father couldn't just tell the son "the Shafan is very similar to a Gamal, with hairier/shorter feet (lol), etc." I still don't see how that mesorah could have been broken and eventually confused with a small furry hyrax just because the llama wasn't in their region.

      Baruch sh'kivanti that RSRH says that. I did some searching in the meforshim and a lot of them relate "gerah" to "garon" or to "gargar", terms that come up only a few times in Tanach. Almost all of these sources imply that it means "neck/throat". Regardless, none of these are conclusive and "maalat gerah" could just be referring to external throat/neck motions while eating. What could be the best approach is joining these approaches together ("neck" and "saw") which would therefore relate to something that's "cut up inside the throat".
      In the end, while this isn't my main point (because MG can still mean "appears to be MG"), it still seems that "MG" is not a very clear term and it could be referring to external chewing style, even scientifically.

      Keep it going.

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    11. @LL

      On the topic of SHRH, I took a really close look. I will quote it here. He says clearly that the "Shafan and Arnevet are not truly maalat gerah". His main focus is on the upper teeth. I was actually thinking that perhaps "maalat gerah" was directly linked to the absence of upper teeth. No matter how you slice it though, he has no issue of the verse calling a Shafan and Arnevet "maalat gerah" even though he himself says they are not in reality.


      מעלת גרה – ״גרה״ נגזרת מ״גרר״ – כדרך ש״גזה״ ״זמה״, נגזרות מ״גזז״ ״זמם״. ״גרר״ הוא השורש של ״מְגֵרָה״: מַסּוֹר; נמצא ש״גרר״ פירושו ״לנסר״. לפי זה תיבת ״גרה״ כשלעצמה יש בה את סימן הבהמה הטהורה. לכל מעלי הגרה האמיתיים יש גם פרסות שסועות לגמרי ולכן הם מותרים באכילה. לכולם חסרות שיניים חותכות בלסת העליונה, ובמקומן יש להם שם לוח קשה ומחוספס, שעליו מוליכות ומביאות השיניים החותכות של הלסת התחתונה את המזון, וכך הוא נקצץ, היינו ״מנוסר״. לדעתנו, מזון שנלעס בדרך זו קרוי ״גרה״. נמצא ששם זה מורה על חסרונן של שיניים חותכות בלסת העליונה, וחסרון זה הוא סימן היכר מספיק לבהמה טהורה. כפי שנאמר בחולין (נט.): ״כל בהמה שאין לה שינים למעלה בידוע שהיא מעלת גרה ומפרסת פרסה וטהורה״.
      השפן והארנבת, הנזכרים בפסוקים הבאים, אינם מעלי גרה אמיתיים, מאחר שיש להם מערכת שלמה של שיניים חותכות עליונות; ולגמל גם חסרות רק האמצעיות והצדדיות, אך יש לו את השיניים החדות הקרויות ״ניבי״ (חולין נט.). רק בגמלים צעירים, במערכת השיניים הראשונה, ״שיני החלב״, חסרות כל השיניים החותכות. לפיכך ניתן לקבוע כשרותה של בהמה על פי סימן השיניים, אם הוא יודע שאינה גמל צעיר: ״ובלבד שיכיר בן גמל״ (שם).
      לאור זה, מובנות מאליהן לשונות הפסוק שהובאו לעיל: ״והוא גרה לא יגר״ (פסוק ז), ו״לא גרה״ (דברים יד, ח) המקוצר אף יותר. מאחר שלחזיר שיניים חותכות עליונות שלמות, הרי שאינו מעלה גרה.
      לבהמות מעלות גרה יש ארבע קיבות. המזון נלעס על ידי ״ניסור״ גרידא ומגיע ל״כרס״, שם הוא מתרכך. לאחר מכן עובר המזון לקיבה השנייה (״בית הכוסות״), מקבל צורת כדורים, ועולה שוב לחלל הפה. רק בשלב זה הוא נלעס היטב. לאחר מכן הוא יורד אל ה״המסס״ ולבסוף מגיע אל ה״קיבה״, שם הוא מתעכל על ידי מיצי הקיבה. העלאה חוזרת זו של המזון שרק ״נוּסָר״ מבית הכוסות לחלל הפה – קרויה ״העלאת גרה״.

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  17. The Rambam never said the Torah contradicts science. He said there are apparent contradictions. The Torah can't be true and at the same time contain falsehood.

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    1. @YA

      If your comment was on a national board exam I'd put down "First statement is true. Second statement is false"

      Indeed, the Torah does not have to contradict science. And that's because the Torah was written in a manner that is meant to convey moral principles and guidelines, and often uses a non-scientific allegorical medium to get to that goal. The earlier non-Ashkenazic commentaries didn't have a problem with this, and unfortunately most people just don't know their Tanach or the mefarshim. When one is familiar with Jewish history and the beginnings of christianity, they will then understand why most of the Ashkenazic commentaries went to the opposite extreme of literalizing everything so as to prevent more Jews falling prey to the antithetical dogma of the church.

      Indeed, everything in the Torah is true. But there's a difference between "truth" and "fact". There's a difference between taking something "seriously" and taking something "literally".
      If someone is going to say that everything in the Torah is absolute 100% fact then by definition they have to say that we were in Egypt for 430 years, that someone who takes out an eye gets his eye taken out, that Shlomo ha'melech committed idolatry, that we start counting sefirah after Shabbos not Pesach, etc.

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  18. Thanks, I am cleaning for Pesach, hence no time for the full monograph, but it seems that the sources are all post biblical. As stated earlier, I have no problem with any human saying something that is not scientifically correct, but so far I don't see any biblical source making an incorrect statement. Hence, I do not believe that MG can be referring to an animal that is not MG.

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    1. You are present in their mouths, but far from their kidneys. (Jer. 12:2)
      I bless God, Who has counseled me; my kidneys admonish me at night. (Ps. 16:7)
      God of Hosts, just Judge, Who examines the kidneys and heart... (Jer. 11:20)
      I, God, probe the heart, and examine the kidneys, and repay each man according to his ways, with the fruit of his deeds. (Jer. 17:10)
      God of Hosts, Who tests the righteous, looking at the heart and kidneys... (Jer. 20:12)
      ...the Lord, the righteous, examines the hearts and kidneys. (Ps. 7:10)

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    2. @RDNS

      All your sources are from scripture written by man, hence it has man's perspective. I am looking for a source from Chamisha Chumshei Torah.

      It was Hashem who said MG - so it must be MG. When it comes to Nach, then I will be happy to apply DTKBA.

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    3. Valid observation. Which would also explain why the Llama in Mishley could be "Dibra Torah kloshen bnei adam" hence be called ""ketanei eretz".

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    4. @LL,

      Chumash was also written by man. The Luchot may have been Michtav Elokim, but no one has ever claimed the rest was. There is no hint that science has any role in Chumash. You are retrojecting your biases on to a text written for a people who would not have understood your premises.

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    5. @Avi,

      My Talmud says that it was dictated to Moshe who inscribed it aside from the last few lines. Hashem dictated directly that a Shafan is MG. RDNS claims that it is a hyrax, which is not MG in the conventional sense. The Talmud Chulin 42A says that Hashem showed Moshe each of the animals described. Moshe in turn showed them to BY. See Malbim on Vayikra 11: 3-7.

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    6. @LL

      "The Talmud Chulin 42A says that Hashem showed Moshe each of the animals described. Moshe in turn showed them to BY"

      (1) If the Llama that wasn't in the region, how did Moshe show it to BY?
      (2) Where does the gemara say that "Moshe in turn showed them to BY"?
      (3) The gemara saying Hashem showed the animals to Moshe sounds more like drash than pshat, don't you think?

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    7. 1. Hashem brought a llama on a magic carpet and showed it to Moshe. Moshe in turn showed it to BY saying this is the Shafan that you may not eat.
      2. See the Malbim noted above.
      3. No. See Chulin 42A.

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    8. @LL

      1. Do you really think that's something that happened in reality (not the magic carpet, lol. the other part)? See point 3.
      2. I don't have access to a Malbim at the moment. But I asked where the gemara, not the Malbim, says Moshe showed BY the animals.
      3. Dude, I am basing my comment on Chullin 42a. Telling me to look at the daf concerns me that you are not understanding the difference between pshat and drash, or that you believe everything in gemara must be pshat

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    9. See the Malbim, HaTorah VHaMitzvah on the Sifra on Parashas Shemini #62. He is dealing with the discrepancy that the Talmud Chulin 42A says that Hashem grabbed each animal and showed it to Moshe, and in the Sifra it says that Moshe grabbed each animal and showed it to BY. Which he resolves quite elementary that Hashem took each animal and showed it to Moshe, who in turn showed it to BY.

      So my dear dude, why do you assume that this is Drash?

      http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=57960&st=&pgnum=447

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    10. @LL

      Thank you for explaining the Malbim to me.

      Why do I assume it's drash?
      Anything that is not in Tanach and makes a claim of something miraculous or supernatural should always be assumed to be drash before being assumed to be pshat, in my humble opinion.
      But more than that. A sensitive eye will know when the gemara is speaking in pshat or drash. Chullin 42a begins with a question asking for a "remez" for Treifah min ha'Torah ("min ha'Torah minayin" is a classical drash phrase, which I'm sure you're well aware). And if you think that "remez" here does not mean something drash-like, just look at the answer the gemara goes on to give:
      וזאת החיה אשר תאכלו' חיה אכול שאינה חיה לא תיכול '
      I'm sorry, but the pshat of the pasuk is clearly "this is the animal you are to eat". The fact that the gemara takes the word "chaya" and now says it should mean "living thing that will survive on its own" should not be too hard of an indication that we are not in the pshat realm here.
      Then, when the gemara actually goes into what the word "v'zot" means, it says "TANNA D'VEI R Yishmael" which is often a midrashic formula (similar to Tanna Devei Eliyahu. I admit, this term is not always midrashic, but I'm using it as part of the general analysis here)
      Also, the pshat of the word "v'zot", which the entire teaching of God showing the animals to Moshe is predicated upon, means "and this" which is referring to what is about to come in the next pasuk. Every time "v'zot" is used in the Torah it does not refer to God showing the thing to Moshe directly. In the pshat realm, "v'zot" simply means "the following".
      Additionally, The very fact that you have a statement from the Sifra, which is primarily a miDRASHic work, that is parallel to the gemara is in of itself a strong indication that this is not meant to be a literal comment. You can take the Malbim and address the discrepancy between the gemara and sifra, but in the end you're addressing a midrash.

      Does this mean R Yishmael was wrong? Chas v'shalom! It means he was teaching us something in the drash realm. But there is a major difference between taking drash "literally" and taking it "seriously".
      When people are talking in the realm of pshat of what is the identity of a Shafan, there is no place for midrashic allegorical interpretations to be the basis of supporting one's point.
      In the end, we're discussing an animal's identity and it will unlikely affect our lives. The bigger problem is when the lines of drash and pshat become blurred concerning matters that are far more grand, and end up being applied to an entire way of life. That's where the danger is very real and, in my humble opinion, is one of the root causes of many issues in the Jewish Orthodox world today.

      You ask me "why do you assume the gemara is drash?" and I ask you: "How can you not?" If you want to demonstrate how the gemara is speaking in pshat, I am very open to hearing your argument and learning more. As always, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

      Delete
    11. @N8ZL

      If the Gemara says that Hashem showed them to Moshe, why should I assume it is Drash? Tosfos seems pretty clear that it was real.

      If Hashem can gather all the animals of the world and send them to Noach, I don't see why he can't gather 11 or 12 animals and 24 birds and show them to Moshe.

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    12. @LL

      "If the Gemara says that Hashem showed them to Moshe, why should I assume it is Drash? Tosfos seems pretty clear that it was real."
      The first half of your statement implies that the gemara does not imply drash. Please go learn more gemara then.
      The 2nd half of your comment: Tosfos' question is stronger than his answer. Rightfully so he asks why this example is not included in the list of things that "Hashem showed to Moshe directly". The question is not a question when you recognize it's drash. If you want to rely your on Tosfos for your opinion (which would all go away when you recognize that not everything is literal), then that's okay. Instead of saying that the gemara is your support, however, you should make it clear that you mean "the gemara according to Tosfos". The gemara in its plain sense is drash. You did not address any of the points I made regarding the textual style of drash in the gemara, which I take as an "I don't know".

      "If Hashem can gather all the animals of the world and send them to Noach, I don't see why he can't gather 11 or 12 animals and 24 birds and show them to Moshe."
      I didn't say Hashem can't do it. Of course He can. I never questioned what He can or cannot do. I questioned what He did or did not do.
      Furthermore, as mentioned in one of my comments above that you claimed "no expertise in", the story of Noach is not a scientifically plausible story in the slightest. You cannot bring me pshat-proof from sources that are not rooted in pshat.
      Lastly, I mentioned above that "outside of Tanach" statements that are supernatural should be assumed to be drash. You cannot now take a supernatural event (that is, if you read it as literal) from Tanach and apply it to Torah sh'baal peh.

      You do realize that you are going through all these acrobatic twists and turns, to the point of saying David and Shlomo Hamelech were wrong, all because you cannot accept that things in the Torah or even in the gemara (!) are not meant to be 100% factual or literal. Do you see this as rational?

      Delete
  19. There has been overwhelming evidence presented that the Hare and Hyrax are not the Shafan and Arneves.

    If you wrote a book and spent a good part of your life believing that the Hare and Hyrax are the Shafan and Arneves, you'd also fight the overwhelming evidence disproving your long-held beliefs.

    To even suggest that when the Torah is providing kosher signs of animals, that somehow those signs were just "Dibra Torah kloshen bnei adam" is beyond ludicrous.

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    1. OK. So say that the hare and hyrax used to chew their cud, and nishtaneh hateva.

      Delete

    2. I am not seeing any evidence here. What is the big deal with saying that MG includes animals that appear to chew their cud? It's a simple solution to every point that has been offered. All it takes is a mature understanding of the Torah that not every word is literal, as we do countless times. What am i missing here??

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    3. Nishtaneh hateva!
      So the olives and eggs used to be big as well nishtaneh hateva ?!
      The back and forth in this pseudo speculation of sorts is, just that - massive speculation. You are better off with an absolute than speculative theory. The Llama absolutely chews it's cud as does the Alpaca and family. That is a fact. As a scientist, you should be accepting fact over highly speculative ideas.

      Delete
    4. @SW @LL

      I could be wrong, but RDNS was being facetious. I think he was trying to bring home the point in which you yourself have just stated: "You are better off with an absolute than speculative theory". Just replace the "As a scientist" part of your comment with "as someone who knows how to read Tanach" and then the rest will flow nicely.
      (I do agree that RDNS' choice of pesukim about the klayot v'lev did not help him)

      You don't need to speculate about animals becoming extinct or that David and Shlomo Ha'melech got it wrong because the name was transposed from a Llama onto a Hyrax. You also don't need to be stuck with the question of why the Torah singles out 3 animals that are all alike, when you could learn one out from the others. You don't need to come up with fanciful future/past tense diyukim in the text to fit your theory. I find that approach is extremely, in your words, speculative.

      The theory that is more absolute and has the least speculation is that "maalat gerah" does not refer to actual chewing of the cud, but rather to any animal that chews in that unique external manner; it just so happens that camels also chew their cud.
      I was using the "dibrah Torah k'lashon BA" argument just to point out that the Torah doesn't always speak in absolute fact, and there are so many other instances in which this tends to be the case.

      You claim that "There has been overwhelming evidence" but I'm simply not seeing it. I'm looking forward to hearing some more thoughts to back up the Llama theory. This is a great discussion.

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    5. @N8ZL

      Of course RDNS was being facetious. I actually LLOLL'ed when I saw him comment Nishtaneh Hateva!

      My only beef with him is that he makes statements such as "there are no alternative viable candidates". Of course my theory is off the beaten path, but it is logical and is certainly viable.

      Finally, the Gemara does make statements about why the Torah delineated only the Gamal, Shafan, Arneves and Chazir, as being the only animals with one sign. If you learn like RDNS, you have more than 4. If you learn like me, there are exactly 4.

      Delete
    6. @LL

      I originally included in my statement that I disagreed with RDNS' exact wording that "there is no viable candidate". I took it out bc my response was getting too long. So we're on the same page there. It's a viable approach, but there are difficulties with it. And there are difficulties with my own. Such is life on a grander scale. The obligation of each person is to first be honest by recognizing those difficulties, then come to grips with them, and ultimately make a mature decision that suits their logic and rationale to adopt that idea/belief/lifestyle.

      Please send me the mekor for the gemara so I can learn some more about it. From my previous understanding, there were 4 animal subtypes that other animals would fit into. Looking forward to expanding my knowledge on the topic.

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    7. @N8ZL

      See Chulin 59A with Tosfos.

      http://hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=31&daf=59&format=pdf

      email me at sotitest2020@gmail.com

      Delete
  20. As I see it, as a layman: If there were specific kosher or non-kosher animals that no Jew had ever seen as of Matan Torah, how could these have been called out by Hebrew name in the text, much less characterized? But any then-unknown-to-Jews animals would have been included automatically in general statements defining the characteristics of kosher and non-kosher animals.

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  21. "32. Rabbi Dr. Yosef Zeliger, Kitvei HaRav Dr. Yosef HaLevi Zeliger (Jerusa- lem: Defus Ivri, 1930), pp. 236–237 suggests that the shafan and arnevet are two undiscovered miniature varieties of camel, one even small enough to hide under rocks, but the conspicuous absence of any fossils or other evidence for such extraordinary creatures renders this highly implausible."

    This a complete misquote of Rabbi Dr Yosef Zelliger. He says clearly that the Shafan and Arneves are the Llama and Alpaca of South America which in his language he says "small camels of America" he doesn't say anywhere that he is referring to an extinct species.

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    Replies
    1. @So What

      Where is this quote from, and can you show us the real one?
      Is the part about the camel being "small enough to hide under the rocks" accurate? Sounds really far-fetched and speculative if it is.

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    2. The entry on Hyraxs in R' Slifkin's Encyclopedia on animals.

      Have you ever seen large rock craggs or cliffs that humans and large animals can fit under - if you haven't, I'd suggest you Google it.

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    3. @So What

      Thanks for showing me the quote from RDNS. Now, can you show the real quote from R Zeliger? I'm not saying RDNS is right here. I just want to know what R Zeliger actually says.

      "cliffs that humans and large animals can fit under" That tells me that the rocks are big, rather than the animals being small.
      The description of the Shafan in Mishlei include them in "ketanei ha'aretz" with spiders, locusts, and ants. Granted, a hyrax is bigger than these, but a llama??

      Furthermore, from what I'm seeing the "llama and alpaca" do not uniquely live in rocks, at least not more so than the distinct species of vicuna and guanaco.

      Delete
  22. RNS:
    Serious question from reviewing shemini last week: perhaps it’s discussed elsewhere, I don’t know I was hoping you might know-

    From your discussions recently about Mafris parsah (MP), shosaas shesah (SS), and maalei gerah (MG); it seems like: there are 3 signs, it must have a hoof (MP), that Hoof must be split (SS); and it must do MG (whatever that means - not relevant for my question).

    If so, when giving the example of animals, why does the Torah only give examples of either YES for MP + SS but NO for MG (chazir) OR YES for MG but NO for MP with no mention of SS (gamal, shafan, arneves).

    To me It seems like the Torah should have given an example of something (anything) that HAS BOTH MG + MP, but NO SS or something that has both MG + SS but not MP. It would make a stronger example - something that has 2/3 signs rather than just 1/3 signs still not being kosher. Strange that it doesn’t. Unless, such an animal doesn’t exist and all animals that are MP are ALSO SS. AND all animals that are SS are ALSO MP. In which case, why doesn’t the Torah simply list 2 signs MG and MP? Or MG and SS?? It seems really strange to me. Is this discussed anywhere (including your books)

    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
  23. @Jeffrey

    Great question, and this is because you are learning like Rashi that MP means split hooves. But see Rabbeinu Yeshaya, Targum Y, RSGaon, Rashbam, Chizkuni, Ralbag, Ibn Ezra, Raah, Bechor Shor etc. who learn that MP means "covered with hoof" or hooved with a hoof. Hence there are 3 simanim, as Sifri clearly states. So now, if an animal is not MP (not hooved) there is no point in saying it is not SS, as there is no hoof to be split. Which is the case with the Gamal, Shafan and Arneves. When the Torah gets to the Chazir, then it says that it has a hoof, MP, and that hoof is split, SS, just it is not kosher bec it is not MG.

    See RDNS's previous post (evolution of camelus) where this is discussed in more detail.

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    Replies
    1. LL:
      I’m not sure that really answers my question since there could still be an animal that has a hoof that is not split and that is also Maleh Gerah (picture a ruminating horse) and the Torah should say it is Maleah gerah and Mafris Parsa but not Shosaas Shesa and therefore we cannot eat it.

      Alternatively there could presumably be an animal without a “hoof” but with a completely cloven foot and the Torah could say it is shosaas shesa and maaleh gerah but not Mafris parsah so we can’t eat it.

      Maybe I’m just confused or missing something.

      Delete
    2. There is no animal with a non-split hoof that ruminates.

      There are animals which ruminates and has a completely split foot but no hoof - the llama and alpaca.

      Delete
    3. So if that’s the case, and if Mafris parsah means “has a hoof” and if shosaas shesa means “completely split”, then I would have predicted that the Torah would have just said You can only eat an animal that is maaleh Gera and mafris parsah - since by definition all animals that have both of those also have Shosaas shesa, there’s no need to Mention that characteristic at all. Why does the Torah then require shosaas shesa? It seems the Torah is giving unecessary redundant information. Why?

      Delete
    4. Good question. I don't know. But then again, nobody really knows the reasons why these signs should make an animal kosher anyway.

      Delete
    5. @Jeffrey

      Perhaps it is precisely to tell you not to learn like Rashi that MP means partially split. Because if the Torah only said MP and MG, and you learned that MP means partially split, you would end up eating the LLama, which is partially split and it chews its cud.

      Delete
    6. RDNS: There are animals which ruminates and has a completely split foot but no hoof - the llama and alpaca.

      LL: Is the llama family split front to back or top to bottom? If the Torah's criteria is top to bottom, and the llama is not split top to bottom, then there is no such animal in this case either.

      Delete
    7. @RDNS @J

      I believe the same question applies to fins and scales for fish. The gemara [Niddah 51b] says if you have scales, then there will automatically be fins.
      RDNS, is this corroborated scientifically ?

      Delete
    8. That’s a similar question and was asked by the Gemara there. There are a differences.” However, One primary difference is the basis for the question:

      That question regarding fish is based based on the Mishnah’s statement (based on science?) that whatever has scales also has fins - it’s not explicit in the text of the Torah shebichtav.

      My question on the other hand is a seeming oddity on the face of the Torah shebichtav - no scientific knowledge required: the Torah gives 3 signs MG, MP, and SS. Then the Torah gives examples of some animals that have some signs and not others (no corresponding list is given by fish) - my original question was if there are 3 required signs, why does the Torah give examples of animals (gamal, shafan, and arneves) which have only 1 of 3 signs, wouldn’t a better example be an animal with 2/3 signs still not being kosher?

      It was only when RNS confirmed that there is no such animal that has MG and also MP but not SS. That’s when my question morphed into something similar to that in the Gemara which is also based on science - why is SS necessary to be mentioned if all animals with MP and MG by definition also have SS.

      Notably, I think rashi says that the camels feet are not sufficiently cloven (above, but not below - presumably because they are webbed); but as RNS has pointed out the Llama and Alpaca do not share that same defect. So including those in the list of examples and saying these which have MG and also SS but not MP are still not kosher would have been expected. But that is not in the Torah.

      Delete
    9. MP means hooved
      SS means totally split through and through
      MG probably means bringing up the cud.

      So the Chazir is MP, and SS, but not MG.
      The Gamal, Shafan and Arneves are MG, but not MP, and not SS
      The horse/zebra/mule/donkey are MP, but not MG and not SS

      So SS, even though the Chazir has it, and it is MP is not Kosher.


      To be Kosher, the animal must have a hoof that is totally split. If there is no hoof, we don't need to discuss whether it is split or not. So all kosher animals i.e. cow, sheep, goat, deer are MP which is SS, and are MG

      Delete
  24. Interesting that Artscroll translates Shefanim as gopher.

    Slayim are giant bolders not rocks.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "5. The lamoids and peccaries from South America also possess only one kosher sign. To posit that they are of the same min as camels and pigs (respectively) can only be done with a novel definition of min that grants a high degree of unspecified flexibility in categorizing new species under the Torah’s preexisting range of types. Accordingly, making an argument out of the exclusivity of the list is greatly weakened." Are you stating this with full %100 certainty? why should we rely on you? Whats novel to you cant be right?? Only what fits into your great awesome intellect and knowledge is correct!?
    Ask any person who looks at a picture of them and he would disagree.
    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Torah only lists 10 Kosher animals, so obviously the type "shor" is including cow, buffalo, yak etc. So it would seem that the Torah's view of MIN is quite expansive. Certainly all llamoids can fit under the category Shafan.

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    2. If a buffalo and cow are included under a "shor", wouldn't it make sense to say a llamoid and camel fall under the category of "gamal"?

      Delete
    3. A buffalo is a "Teo" not under category "shor".

      Delete
    4. Llamas look a lot less like camels than horses look like donkeys.
      Also, it is very difficult to argue that the Torah's list of 10 kosher animals includes every kosher animal in the world.

      Delete
    5. @RDNS
      I am presuming you are bringing up horses and donkeys because there are separate terms for them in Tanach, instead of subsuming them under one common name.
      (1) While the llama-camel vs. horse-donkey statement is not objective (I happen to think the reverse), would you agree that donkeys function in contrast with horses is vastly different (at least in Tanach) compared to the function of a llama compared to a camel, and therefore the analogy may not work?
      (2) I was posing the question specifically to LlamaLlover who believes the Shafan is the llama. In my humble opinion, llamas look a lot more like camels than buffalos look like cows.

      @Llama Llover
      Nu? Llama lo ?

      Delete

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