Friday, June 19, 2020

Return of the Re'em

The Biblical re'em is described as a huge cattle-like creature with magnificent, upwards-pointing horns. This is the aurochs - the wild ancestor of domestic cattle. It's challenging to display one in a museum, because they have been extinct for four hundred years! But thanks to artist Tom Hammond we are able to display this amazing life-size reproduction of a re'em.

Meanwhile, here's a riddle: During the course of Shabbat, how many times do we mention the re'em?

(And watch out next week, when there will be a very special announcement!)

6 comments:

  1. Not counting Shabbat Balak when it's in the parsha, twice in mizmor ledavid, and three or four times (depending on minhag) in mizmor shir leyom hashabbat

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    1. It also appears in zemiroth such as Menucha VeSimcha.

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  2. I have read that scientists are trying to revive the aurochs by reverse engineering their DNA. Have you heard anything about this? I believe the aurochs is the only animal mentioned in the Torah that is now extinct.

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    1. @Zack613 An argument could be made that the Torah mentioned dinosaurs. Genesis 1:21, “and G-d created the big taneneem [big reptiles]…” Or, for example, when Moses throws his staff on the ground and it becomes a taneen. Yet others translate Genesis 1:21’s taneneem to mean a whale or a crocodile.

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    2. In the case of Aharon's (yes, specifically Aharon's; Moshe's turned into a serpent) staff, it makes sense from context that the taneen was a crocodile (which was one of the royal symbols of Egypt). In the case of the passage from Breishit, the meaning could be more vague and general.

      And remember, current evolutionary taxonomy has crocodiles, dinosaurs and birds all part of the same evolutionary branch, so the context of the fifth day of Creation and the use of the term "taninim" ends up even more consistent with evolution.

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    3. Zack, it's discussed in my encyclopedia.

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