Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
Happy Jumping Elephant Day!
Can you acquire an elephant by making it jump?
It’s so exciting - Daf Yomi is reaching the Case of The Jumping Elephant! The Gemara refers to a view which states that one performs an act of acquisition on animals by lifting them up. The Gemara asks, but then how do you buy an elephant? And it cryptically answers, “with a bundle of vines.” What does this mean? Tosafos explains it to mean that you have them hanging in the air and make the elephant jump to get them. But can elephants jump?
You can download my original essay on this topic at this link. Even better would be to read its publication in The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom, which is best purchased on the museum website.
Y'know, it's funny. There were people who went crazy with me for saying that one of the Tosafists never saw an elephant. On the other hand, Rabbi Moshe Meiselman says that all of the Rishonim were repeatedly wrong in their basic understanding of several topics in the Gemara! I am waiting for Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel to be consistent and to condemn Rabbi Meiselman, too.
Meanwhile, I am still receiving objections to this topic. Somebody once wrote to me arguing that Tosafos could be understood as referring to an elephant jumping in the water, or on a trampoline! I kid you not!
Rationalist Judaism is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.