Friday, August 14, 2020

The Challenge of Eagles and Hoopoes

There's a Torah-science challenge that you've never heard of. In fact, I think that nobody has ever thought of it before. But it's been bothering me for years. In this post, I will discuss it, and suggest a path towards reconciling with it. 

The laws of kashrut that were introduced in Parashat Shemini are repeated in this week's parasha, Re'ay. With land animals, we are given signs for identifying kosher animals - a system that we can use thousands of years later to identify newly discovered species such as okapis as being kosher. With fish, we are likewise given signs, which we can easily utilize to identify kosher fish at markets anywhere in the world. Even with insects, while it is a a little more complicated, there can be absolutely no doubt that the desert locust (which happens to be 99.99% of all locusts you'll ever see swarming in the region of Israel) is one of the kosher species mentioned in the Torah. 

But with birds... it's a whole different matter.

The Torah does not give signs via which to distinguish kosher from non-kosher birds. It just lists the names of the birds that are non-kosher. And this is a problem.

I've spent a quarter of a century working at identifying the creatures of the Torah. In some cases, one can reach 100% certainty, such as with the shafan being the hyrax. This is based on a convergence of evidence from many different areas - primarily identifying clues given in other locations in Tanach, but also comparative linguistics, evidence from other ancient sources, the ability to rule out alternate possibilities, and so on. But in other cases, one cannot be so sure. The yachmor is either the fallow deer or the hartebeest, but it's difficult to be certain which it is. Still, it makes no halachic difference, since with mammals we can rely on kosher signs.

But it's a problem with birds, since the Torah doesn't give any signs. It only gives names, and it's very difficult to know which birds are being referred to. I've served as consultant on this matter for ArtScroll and Koren and Chabad and Steinsaltz (the new Steinsaltz Chumash contains probably the best discussion of the matter), but while it's possible to achieve certainty or near-certainty for some of the birds, with others one cannot be anywhere near certain. We set up an exhibit of all the non-kosher birds in the Hall of Kosher Classification at the new Biblical Museum of Natural History, but as we explain to our visitors, we are far from certain as to the true identities of all the birds. The hoopoe is the popular and strongest candidate for the duchifat, but there is very little to go on. And as for birds such as the tachmos, there are many different suggestions, none of which are anything more than guesses.  

And there are all kinds of related difficulties. Since the nesher is undoubtedly the griffin vulture, where does the eagle appear on the list of non-kosher birds - is it the ayah, or is nesher a generic term that also includes eagles? Why is the ayit that descended on the carcasses of the Brit Bein HaBetarim not in the list of non-kosher birds - is it a synonym for another type, is it a generic name for scavenging birds, or is there some other explanation?

Even more problematically, the list of non-kosher birds in Re'ay is not the same as the list in Shemini! Now, the Gemara in Chullin addresses this, and argues that Moshe gave different names to some of the birds due to differences in what some people called them. But this just begs the question - if the Torah accommodated past name changes, what about future name changes?

The fact is that if you want to refer to an animal for an audience spanning different times and places, the absolute worst way to identify it is by its name. Because different places and different times have different animals. And consequently, names get transposed. 

The animal known today as a red deer in England is called an elk in America. But the word elk in England refers to the animal that Americans call a moose. 

Americans buy pet turtles. In England, a turtle is a sea-dwelling creature that reaches a yard in length; the reptiles that Americans buy are called tortoises (if they are terrestrial) or terrapins (if they live in lakes and rivers).

The American turkey vulture is also often called a buzzard. But in every other part of the world, "buzzard" refers to a very different bird of prey, of the Buteo family. Yet these birds are called hawks in America. Whereas "hawk" elsewhere refers strictly to birds in the Accipitridae family.

Now, the problem of identifying the birds of the Torah's list is not a new one. Consequently, the Tanna'im studied the kosher and non-kosher birds and identified a combination of characteristics which can be used to identify which birds can be eaten. (Unfortunately, it is very difficult to correlate this system with our knowledge of birds Still, most Rishonim are of the view that it can be implemented, though the stringent view that a tradition is required has recently become widely accepted.) But while previous generations grappled with the difficulty of identifying birds, they didn't discuss the inherent problem with the concept of the dietary laws being based on rules that would be destined to become incomprehensible.

Someone from the mystical school of thought might claim that the problem is just due to our limitations. The very first thing that man did in the world was to name the animals, and from the mystical perspective, this means that Adam was able to divine the fundamental nature of each animal and give it a perfectly appropriate name in the Holy Language which exactly expresses its essence. Accordingly, the Torah's listing of non-kosher birds is in fact a perfect way of describing them. But in fact, this is not much of a solution. None other than ArtScroll says that none other than some of Chazal themselves had difficulties identifying the birds. If identifying birds by means of kabbalistic powers is too much even for Chazal, then what chance does everyone else have?

All of this forces one to the conclusion that the Torah's way of identifying kosher from non-kosher birds is very limited in application. It cannot and could not possibly stand the movements of the Jewish People over the world and over history. And, if one believes that God authored the Torah, one must therefore also believe that God knew this. Yet He nevertheless gave a system that would prove impossible to implement after a few centuries.

So what is a believer supposed to do with that? Actually, it's not necessarily as a big a problem as it might first appear. But it might require some adjustment in one's conception of Torah.

Being an Orthodox Jew means accepting that the Torah is binding in all times and in all places. And yet, it has long been acknowledged (at least by the more rationalistically-inclined rabbinic authorities) that the presentation of Torah was oriented towards the generation that received it. (This is a topic that I discussed in detail in my book The Challenge Of Creation.) As Rambam puts it, "the Torah spoke in the language of man" - i.e. the people that first received the Torah. Rav Hirsch notes that the Torah's description of the "firmament" as a solid dome was in accordance with the conception of the universe held by people at that time. The same approach is necessary with numerous other scientifically-inaccurate statements in the Torah.

Rambam and others go even further than just saying that the Torah packaged its description of the universe in terms familiar to the generation that received it. They say that even certain commandments were primarily oriented to that generation. Naturally, this leads to a concern that later generations will abandon their observance, which is one reason why Rambam's advancement of this argument regarding offerings aroused much controversy. Still, he advanced it nonetheless, and there can be many other arguments for adhering to observing a commandment even if the primary original reason no longer applies.

And so the Torah's presentation of the laws of kosher birds is no different. For the generation that received the Torah, that was the most effective way of teaching them which birds may and may not be eaten. Yes, it's not a system that would withstand the later movements of the Jewish People through space and time. But then again, nor would all the laws which are dependent on living in the Promised Land!

It's also important to note that, in practice, the Torah's system for identifying kosher birds has not been problematic. Birds that were commonly available and farmed - chickens, ducks, and geese - were accepted without a problem. So were other commonly eaten birds, such as quail, guinea fowl, pheasants, and sparrows. Even turkey managed to get accepted before the Jewish community took on a more stringent approach to the dietary laws. For a variety of reasons too complicated to discuss here, it's safe to predict that there will never be any new species of bird to be commercially farmed.

It's true that recently things have taken a turn for the worse. Misunderstandings of both zoology and Talmudic natural history have lead many to believe that even some breeds of chicken may not be eaten. During the infamous Chicken Wars of 2017, it was claimed that all commercially available chickens are not kosher. Still, hopefully it will be possible to correct this error (my monograph on this topic is available in both English and Hebrew). I'm very much hoping that the Biblical Museum of Natural History, through its exhibits and publications, will successfully teach people that the laws of kashrus are both sensible and practical. The questions and difficulties are in the realm of fascinating theoretical and academic discussions - in practice, there is no shortage of birds to eat.

Nevertheless, as the global population increases, it will make more economic sense to obtain protein from insects. Food scientists have recognized this for years and are working to bring insects into the food market. Thank God, the Torah is future-proofed, and locusts are kosher!

The Biblical Museum of Natural History teaches tens (and soon hundreds) of thousands of people about the relationship between Judaism and the natural world. Please join our mission by becoming a Friend or Patron of the museum, and enjoy a personal tour of the museum, either in-person or via Zoom. See details at www.BiblicalNaturalHistory.org/support. Thank you!

63 comments:

  1. > For a variety of reasons too complicated to discuss here, it's safe to predict that there will never be any new species of bird to be commercially farmed.

    Where else are you discussing this issue? If the answer is nowhere, please understand this as a request for such an article!

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    1. If articles like this prove successful in generating funds for the museum, then I can justify taking the time to write more of them.

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    2. Does the page generate funds now? How so? There are no ads (at least for me). Is it just donations?

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    3. No ads. See the last paragraph of the post.

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    4. Is the last paragraph of the post an official donation to the site or the museum?

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  2. This was an excellent article, thank you! Can you share the primary sources for requiring a tradition for birds? It would be interesteling to see the time line of how this developed.

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    1. For the development, see https://www.biblicalnaturalhistory.org/blog/turkey-the-traditionless-kosher-bird/

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    2. See too my essay on the Chicken Wars.

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    3. Great, I will take a look, thank you!

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  3. Dibra Torah K'lashon b'nei Adam anteceded the Rambam by a mere millennium.

    More importantly, it doesn't conceivably mean what you say it means. I cannot find an earlier authority then one Rabbi Slifkin for the notion that "the presentation of Torah was oriented towards the generation that received it." It's a version of the "the fossils were implanted into the strata to test us" level of contrivance, which is maybe why the idea hasn't had a huge amount of currency.

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    1. Of course the phrase anteceded the Rambam! But because Rambam uses it differently from Chazal, I quoted him rather than the Gemara. For Rambam, Rav Hirsch and Rav Kook it means that the Torah catered for incorrect scientific worldviews. "Rambam wrote that Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot was presented to him in a manner that accorded with the view that the heavenly spheres make sounds, and that Mercury and Venus are above the sun, even though the truth is that the spheres make no sound, and Mercury and Venus are below the sun. For prophecy presents itself to the prophet in accordance with his own conception of the world." (Rabbi Shlomo Fisher, Derashos Beis Yishai, Ma’amar Hamo’ach Vehalev).
      See tooעוקשי, ציון. "דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם: גלגולי הביטוי ותכניו", דרך אפרתה ט'-י' (תשס"א) עמ' 39-59.

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    2. I stand corrected. It seems to me that Rabbi Fisher is the somewhat earlier authority for this reading of the notion of "Dibra Torah". I simply don't see this reading has any basis in Moreh. Please correct me if I am wrong.

      Rambam doesn't unqualifiedly adopt Aristotle's belief in the silence of the sphere in Moreh 2:8, but he certainly seems to conclude with that opinion. However - and this is crucial - he defers to scientific knowledge only when in conflict with Chazal, but no on behalf of the scripture.

      He does discuss the "glass sphere" placement of Mercury and Venus in parts 2:9-10 and 2:29 - not in the context of discussing the Merkava vision - but in the context of expressing the haziness and lack of precision of the cosmology of his day. Mercury and Venus don't get discussed in part 3, which deals with the Merkava.

      Rambam does discuss the dictum of "dibra torah" in 1:53 and 1:59 in the sense that he is conventionally understood to have used it - with reference to anthropomorphic language concerning Hashem.

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  4. Dr. Slifkin,

    You say that names can be transposed. You also state that it is 100% certain that the Shafan is the hyrax. But you are basing much of your proof on the fact that Nach refers to the Shafan and in that case it seems to be the hyrax. But why couldn't the identity of Shafan been lost in the time between Matan Torah and Neviim?

    The Torah says that the Shafan is Maalah Gerah and only with some real apologetics can one state that it does.

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    1. When everything is considered, it's infinitely more reasonable to say that the Shafan of Torah is the hyrax and that maaleh gerah needs to be reinterpreted than to say that the shafan refers to a different animal. There's just no other candidate. See my book The Camel, The Hare And The Hyrax for a full discussion.

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    2. Infinitely more reasonable and the fact that you can't come up with an alternative does not lend to statements that "it is 100% certain".

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    3. Sure it does. Just like I would say it's 100% certain that there's no giant invisible alien above Manhattan, even though, technically speaking, I can't disprove it.

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    4. If the Torah claimed (the way I was taught to interpret it) that that there was a giant invisible alien above Manhattan, I would believe it. After all, the Torah makes far bolder claims than that.

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    5. Actually, it would be time to re-examine the way that you were taught to interpret Torah.
      The Torah's description of the hyrax as maale gerah is far easier to understand than its description of a rakiya, or of the kidneys housing the mind, or of dew falling from the heavens, etc.

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    6. Huh? The Torah makes far bolder claims, even the way you interpret it. The miracles of Yetzias Mitrayim are far more fantastic than a giant invisible alien, and I assume you believe in them (at least I haven't seen seen otherwise in your writings, correct me if I'm wrong). The water coming from a rock, the manna, the pit that swallowed Korach, etc. Thus, there wouldn't be much advantage to changing my interpretation.

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    7. Torah doesn't say anything about kidneys housing the mind, that came later.

      I still can't get a grip on a Torah scholar and zoologist could say that the hyrax is MG. You got the wrong animal.

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    8. The miracles in Egypt are NOT more fantastic than an alien. Plus, they are explicitly described as being miracles!

      Torah DOES say that the kidneys house the mind.

      ALL scholars of Biblical natural history say that the shafan is the hyrax. It's vastly easier to reinterpret MG than to say that the shafan is not the hyrax.

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    9. It's just surprising that for articles that profess academic integrity, you'd use such an exaggerated expression, in fact it makes one wonder what other expressions of your (albeit very likely correct) opinion are also over exaggeration. Definitely detracts from the integrity of the article and certainly not very "rationalist".

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    10. The miracles in Egypt are infinitely more fantastic than an alien, how could anyone think otherwise??? Similarly, a mysterious shafan extinction is much more believable than the Exodus. But this depends on how seriously one takes the traditional interpretation of maaleh gaira vs. the opinion of
      ALL scholars of Biblical natural history. Remember, the opinion of the VAST MAJORITY of archaeologists is that the Exodus never happened, and by your reasoning, is vastly easier to reinterpret.

      I would like to add that I very much appreciate your writings, have read some of your books, and visit this website quite often. You have opened my mind to new ways of understanding certain parts of the Torah, and introduced me to long-ignored aspects of it.

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    11. "...this depends on how seriously one takes the traditional interpretation..." If you're going with tradition, then the tradition (from Chazal) is absolutely most definite that the arneves is the hare - and yet the hare is not MG. And the tradition (from Chazal) is also that the shafan of Mishlei/Tehillim is the same as the shafan of the Torah. Which is why many traditional authorities also preferred to reintepret MG. In fact, why not go with the "traditional" approach of nishtaneh hateva, and say that the hyrax used to ruminate in the conventional sense? Even that is less unreasonable than saying that the shafan and arneves are not the hyrax and hare.

      By your logic, the aryeh, dov and zev are not the lion, bear and wolf, since the Gemara says that their gestation is three years, and that's not true of these animals!

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    12. I like this answer, thank you. You never disappoint!

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    13. "The miracles in Egypt are infinitely more fantastic than an alien, how could anyone think otherwise???"

      Actually, the miracles are less fantastic than an alien since the miracles were only natural, but nevertheless unusual and exaggerated events.

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    14. @Turk Hill what nonsense, miracles are miracles, not natural. And by your silly reasoning the invisible aliens would be natural as well.

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    15. @happygoluckypersonage - The world works according to the laws of nature. Rambam explains that the miracles in Egypt were natural, but unusual events. It is more reasonable to suggest that G-d works through nature rather than violates natural laws.

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    16. Scholars have provided natural explanations for all miracles of the Exodus and wanderings, except perhaps the last of the 10 plagues. Natural explanations have also been provided for the so called mountain revelation. I have written up alot of that stuff at my blog. It is possible the Torah's Exodus may have a kernal of real history, but most likely embellished and jumbled. ACJA

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    17. @Turk Hill, again, more nonsense, the Rambam says no such thing. It's impossible to take seriously someone who has never bothered reading the Bible, whether in Hebrew, English, or any other language. If you have a point to make about the Rambam, quote the source in the Rambam himself, rather than some article or book you read about it.

      To the other person who obviously doesn't believe the Torah at all, there is no need to respond, except that to him the "scholars'" explanations are unnecessary, as he doesn't believe the Torah in the first place.

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    18. @Turk Hill and even if the Rambam did say that miracles were natural, it wouldn't refute the original point at all, as he could just as easily say the same thing about giant invisible aliens.

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    19. ACJA, Actually, scholars and rabbis have explained all of the ten plagues naturally. I can send you an excellent essay on the topic if you want. Also, you would like to check Rabbi Dr. Joshua A. Berman's new book “Ani Maamin,” where he seemingly debunks the Documentary Hypothesis. I agree with much of what he wrote. 

      Happygoluckypersonage, It is very rare that people read the Tanakh. Most people skim the Bible in Hebrew or another language. They feel satisfied that they have read the Bible. But one needs to carefully study the Tanakh and delve into the Bible to see what is happening. The Bible was written brilliantly and is full of its use of stories, poetry, metaphor, etc. 

      Regarding miracles, some feel that Maimonides didn’t believe in miracles. All agree that he at least minimizes them. Whatever his views, does it make a difference whether G-d works through nature? I think that it makes no difference. Even if G-d worked through nature, people would still be believing that G-d was miraculously involved in producing the miracle. If we accept the former view, then it follows that miracles are less fantastic than invisible aliens. RNS agrees with me.

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    20. @Turk Hill again, please cite your source in the Rambam rather than "scholars", "rabbis", "people feel", etc. It doesn't take scholars or rabbis to claim that the miracles were natural, any fool can make that claim. And I don't need you to send me an essay on the topic, a simple google search yields thousands of such articles, each one sillier than the next.

      "If we accept the former view, then it follows that miracles are less fantastic than invisible aliens". Absolutely not, you totally missed my point. The miracles of the exodus were infinitely more fantastic than giant invisible aliens. If we somehow accept that these extremely fantastic events were "natural", then it is infinitely more reasonable to say that giant invisible aliens are "natural" as well.

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    21. @happygoluckypersonage, I do not think their claims silly. Does it make more sense to suppose that the miracles were natural, but unusual events rather than violating natural law? Since God is perfect, it follows that creation — laws designed by G-d — are perfect and devoid of defects. G-d is all-knowing and all-powerful. When He created the world He foresaw all the needs of humans and took care of it within the laws of nature. Thus, the world works according to the laws of nature. Natural law is fixed and needs no change. Thus, there is no reason for G-d to alter or change the currently existing, perfect rules for the universe. The talmudic rabbis recognized this when they wrote that the miracles were formed during the six days of creation, meaning that they are part of natural law. Thus, an invisible alien hovering above manhattan for no apparent reason must be more fantastic, even if it is "natural," since this is not part of the initial plan of creation.

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    22. @Turk Hill, huh? You are not addressing the original point at all. If the amazingly fantastic miracles of Exodus were formed in the six days of creation, and are thus "natural", then a giant alien, which is far less fantastic, can just as easily be formed in the six days of creation, and be "natural" in exactly the same way.

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    23. @happygoluckypersonage, Yes, the giant alien would be "natural," but since it would be out-of-this-world, it follows that it would be more fantastic then natural but exaggerated events (ie miracles). I think this makes more sense, don't you?

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    24. @Turk, Hill, No. It would also be a "natural but exaggerated" event. It would be in this world, hovering above Manhattan. And, of course, it would be infinitely less fantastic than the miracles.

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  5. Excellent article. Your monograph on Chicken Wars states that "no Gallus junglefowl ever lived anywhere close to Chazal’s region". Are you sure this is correct? The Encyclopedia Iranica article on the Sasanian Persian economy states as follows:

    "..continuity can be assumed for domestic animals (oxen, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese), which furnished labor, meat, milk, and materials for textile manufacturing and tanning"

    https://iranicaonline.org/articles/economy-iv

    I also found the following National Geographic article:

    "If you go back to ancient Babylon, about 800 B.C., in what is now Iraq, you find seals used by people to identify themselves. Some of these have images of chickens sitting on top of columns being worshipped by priests. That expanded with the Persian Empire. Zoroastrians considered the chicken sacred because it crowed before dawn, before the light appeared. And in Zoroastrian tradition, the coming of the light is a sign of good. So the chicken became associated with an awakening from physical, as well as spiritual, slumber."

    https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/news/2014/12/141221-chickens-civilization-avian-flu-locavore-turkey-ngfood-booktalk

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    1. Sorry, I missed out a word. It should say "no WILD junglefowl."

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    2. But then the premise of the thesis falls away. I.e. The word Tarnigol isn't new then. Since domestic chickens were around... Maybe another post on this?

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    3. I don't understand what you are asking. There's a difference between Biblical times and Talmudic times.

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  6. What say you about the ינשוף? The word נשף seems to mean either nighttime or shrieking. This would indicate the hooting owl. But in rabbinic Hebrew it means to jump. Rabbinic Hebrew doesn't trump Biblical Hebrew, but does it nonetheless possibly speak to a different interpretation? A bird in the Middle East region known for hopping or jumping?

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    1. @DF, see Brachos 3b with Rashi SV נשף יממא (ואתי לילא). קפץ ועלה כמו לנשוף מדוכתיה וכו', that the two definitions are intertwined.

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  7. Teaching apologetics without committing apologetics,this is what people want in a rationalist blog. The readers don't need to understand what's wrong with the Charedi world. They know it already and that's how they ended up here.

    My 2 cents.

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    1. Rambam was an apologist as well. ACJA

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    2. @ACJA Depends what you are referring to...

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    3. "Rambam was an apologist as well." Do you have proof?

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  8. To make things more confusing, "turtle" was originally the name of a bird, what we call a "turtledove" today.

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    1. The French had a word for turtle which was confused by the English from their word for dove (latin turtur, related to תור?)
      More fun- how חזרת ceased to mean lettuce & now means horseraddish.

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    2. Dove make a sound like "tuuurrr," so it may just be a coincidence that it's "תור" in Hebrew and "turtur" in Latin (but you never know), from whence "turtle" in Old English. The sea creature is called "tortoise", derived from the French tortue or tortre, completely unrelated to "turtle" but changed to that by English sailors who found it hard to pronounce.

      By the time of King James "turtle" had to be changed to "turtledove," but some stand-alone "turtles" remain, such as in Shir HaShirim: "The voice of the turtle is heard in our land."

      None of the actual marror species grow (or grow well) in Northern Europe, and so horseradish was used. Growing up we were told that "marror" on the seder plate is horseradish and "hazeret" (correctly) is romaine lettuce, but in Israel "hazaret" means horseradish, almost certainly under Eastern European influence.

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    3. Probably because of places where there was no lettuce. On my family's Seder plate, the ground up horseradish gets the maror spot (center), and the chazeres spot (at the 6:00 position) is taken up by... the end of the physical horseradish! Visualwise, this puts something green in the "second maror" spot as the stalk at the back end of the horseradish now poke up into the air EVEN THOUGH we don't eat it. The Romaine lettuce is not put on the table for display (though it is eaten). I imagine this was the mesorah from a lettuce poor region of Eastern Europe or from a money-poor society trying to make do without purchasing lettuce.

      At my own table, I have replaced the horseradish posterior with a small bowl of lettuce (with of course, a larger bowl kept separate for everyone to have enough for all of the shiurim - see you local kezayis broker).

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  9. RNS

    how would you interpret 'hashesuah' of this weeks parsha?

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  10. "All of this forces one to the conclusion that the Torah's way of identifying kosher from non-kosher birds is very limited in application. It cannot and could not possibly stand the movements of the Jewish People over the world and over history. And, if one believes that God authored the Torah, one must therefore also believe that God knew this. Yet He nevertheless gave a system that would prove impossible to implement after a few centuries."

    It is true that the original Hebrew list of animals in the Torah would gradually become incomprehensible over time. However, oral Torah means that you can identify which animals are acceptable to eat and continue eating them, even if their names change. Of course oral traditions can die out too - and they mostly did, in this case - but this means there is no *inherent* reason why the tradition has to be lost. We rabbinic Jews believe in a special role for oral Torah, but in this case you don't have to believe anything special, it is just a natural consequence of people continuing to eat what they and their parents previously ate. For me, this entirely removes the theological problem.

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    1. But Oral traditions regarding identities of birds inherently cannot survive Exile.

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    2. "But Oral traditions regarding identities of birds inherently cannot survive Exile." Which is why we have the codification of the Mishnah (first Jewish code of law) by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. In short, I agree with you, Rambam, and Rabbi Ishmael, that “the Torah (which is intended for humans) speaks in human language.” This not only makes sense, but it is the easiest way to reconcile the problem. I therefor think this is a fair solution.

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    3. Would migration patterns be a factor that make it more difficult to keep track of bird names?

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  11. Aaaah... What a pleasure!

    Back to our regularly scheduled programs.

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  12. RNS apologetic at best may work for a religious ritual ( it is really not convincing even for those either - my blog explains in detail). But it is a weak apologetic for things we are allowed or not allowed to eat. Also why not use names for the other allowed and non animals based on the same apologetic ? Also, why not give signs for birds. Perhaps there were no signs that could be used to distinguish allowed and non allowed birds, so Torah just listed the birds. The author just assumed the identity of the birds would not be lost and that assumption turned out to be wrong. Torah could have had the foresight and gave help to ID the birds. Now we are stuck with another obsolete and hindering law.

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  13. Are you going to do a review on Revel in Emunah which is Rav Moshe Shapiro's shiurim on the ikarei emunah?

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  14. "Nevertheless, as the global population increases, it will make more economic sense to obtain protein from insects. Food scientists have recognized this for years and are working to bring insects into the food market. Thank God, the Torah is future-proofed, and locusts are kosher!" Except the vast vast majority of Orthodox Jews will not eat Locust because they consider them not kosher. So the Torah again failed. Also Locust have extreme population fluctuations so again the Torah fails us. The Torah probably allowed Locust because what better way to get back at something eating your wheat (it would help keep the Locust population down) plus a readily available source of food. Pass the fries.

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    1. That's disgusting. I don't want to eat locust for any reason. Would you?

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