Kollel Guys vs. Lions; Plus, Some Announcements
Some people want to read critiques of guys in kollel, others want to read about lion attacks in light of Torah/science. How about a post that combines both?
In the previous post, we saw a reference to the following verse:
[Where is] the lion that tore prey for his cubs, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his lairs with prey, and his dens with mangled flesh? (Nachum 2:13)
Although this verse appears as part of a metaphor, metaphors are intended to be genuine, i.e. to reflect actual facts. Furthermore, the Gemara certainly takes it as expressing facts about lion hunting.
But, as one reader pointed out, lions do not in fact hunt for their cubs and lionesses. It's the lionesses who do all the work!
This is yet another example of the same phenomenon that appears with Scriptural descriptions of hares and hyraxes chewing cud, dew falling from the heavens, the heart and kidneys as housing the mind, and the sky as a solid dome. As Rambam says with regard to Yechezekel's account of the heavens, which Rambam saw as scientifically inaccurate, prophesy appears via the worldview of the prophet. Or, to use another phrase: Dibra Torah k'lashon bnei adam, "the Torah speaks in the language of man."
But this is not enough. There always has to be an actual plausible reason why the errant belief arose. Why was it believed that lions do the hunting for the pride, if in fact it is the lionesses that do it?
The answer is obvious. It's because in human society, it is the male who is bigger and stronger, and who provides for his family. Naturally, then, the assumption was that with lions, where the male is likewise bigger and stronger, it is the male who provides for the family.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I would imagine that in every one of the hundreds (thousands?) of cultures over the world, over the ages, it is the husband whose role it is to provide for the family. That's certainly the traditional Jewish model, as enshrined in the kesubah. Isn't one of the complaints against Pharaoh that he inverted these normal roles?
And yet, in contemporary charedi society, this role has been completely inverted! Boys (I don't think that they can be called men) enter marriage with the absolute expectation that their wives will be the ones who work! And the girls are taught that their job is to support their husbands! Furthermore, they consider this the lechatchilah approach, and regard anyone who does otherwise as a lesser Jew!
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And now for something completely different - a few brief announcements regarding programs in different parts of the world:
CANADA: I'll be visiting Toronto and Montreal on a lecture tour for twelve days over Shavuos. Details will be posted here when my schedule is finalized. If you live in Toronto and are interested in attending a parlor meeting regarding the Encyclopedia and Museum, please be in touch. I also have some windows of time available for meetings, presentations, etc.
USA - NY: This year, I only have one Shabbos available in the NY region - August 2/3. If you are interested in arranging for me to be scholar-in-residence in your community, please be in touch.
USA - CA: I'll be running several programs in LA in August, at Beth Jacob, the West Coast Torah Center, and probably YINBH.
AFRICA: There are a very small number of places still available on my African Safari. Please visit the Torah in Motion website for more details. Come watch a lion hunt in action!
ISRAEL: Last but not least, remember that I run programs for groups at my mini-museum in my home. See here for more details.