Thoughts on Judaism

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

DaatEmet's Zoo

DaatEmet has written a pamphlet and an essay on animals in Chazal and halacha. Not to steal the thunder of R. Slifkin, I will just say the few words that allow the explorer to get a summary of the issues. They definitely amount to a punt for the home team, but it is important to understand why that is. This case is good to illustrate how the kiruv should field a question of this type.

The pamphlet addresses the hare, hyrax and camel. The Torah says that kosher animals have two indicators, split hooves and chewing the cud. Rashi and other Rishonim make clear that "maaleh gairah" means to bring the food back up (ma'alah) through the neck (garon). However, the camel is a classic ruminant. The hare and hyrax do not ruminate in this manner. The apologist is left with four possible answers, none of them very satisfying.

1) The Hirsch answer: Shafan and arnevet are unknown animals that do ruminate.
2) Their mouth and nose movements appear to the lay observer like rumination.
3) The hare and hyrax do indeed process and reprocess food in a manner similar in digestion to rumination, though it is not regurgitation and cud chewing.
4) They do indeed ruminate, though we have not witnessed the matter.

Answer 1 is a punt, plain and simple. There is no basis to say this other than to dodge the contradiction. These words are used throughout Tanach and Talmud and no one questions what they are in any place except this one. Nor does Hirsch try to equate the words with any known or theoretical animal. DE has a field day with this one.

Answer 2 is more in line with what we have seen in arguing on DE before. The layman must make the determination, and it is the layman, rather than the scientist who might mistake the masticulation for rumination. This is weaker in this case, because the gemorra states, as Aish Hatorah unfortunately trumpeted in kiruv pamphlets galore, that these 4, the hare, hyrax, pig, and camel are the only four in the world with one kosher indicator but not both. Obviously, there are many animals, like kangaroos, for instance, which appear to ruminate, but do not. South American camel relatives actually do some form of rumination, but are not listed, nor would the LAYMAN refer to them as camels. This leads into what DE says in the essay, that Chazal did not have any special knowledge of animals, certainly not animals that were not discovered in their times. I would contend that when they say that these are "all the animals in the world", they are only referring to discovered animals. Obviously, they can make no conclusion about undiscovered animals. DE brings the words, "was Moshe a bowman or hunter, that he should know?" as proof that he meant all animals that would ever be discovered. However, these words emphasize the opposite. He only meant those animals that would have BEEN KNOWN by a bowman or hunter, not those that would have required prophecy. Anyway, the Torah is satisfied by this answer, but not the common interpretation of the gemorra. In fact, animals that a bowman or hunter would have known in the Middle East, rodents, appear to ruminate.

Answer 3 trivializes the matter. In the Gutnik Chumash, the editor notes that hares eat soft pellets that pass through their digestive system and come out the rectum. These are separate entities from fecal material, but technically, they are digested and redigested so the process is similar to rumination. This "cacotrophy" is unique to rabbits and hares. Similarly, the hyrax has a stomach extension that is peculiar within its kind. It could be seen as redigesting. This is sort of the opposite approach to answer two. Here we broaden the definition of maaleh gairah, so that ONLY a SCIENTIST can distinguish the indicator. IMO, this makes the indicator useless. It also trivializes the indicator. Once I broaden maaleh gairah, why am I including cacotrophy and double maw, and not including animals who eat from amongst their feces, like rats and horses. Not only that, if pigs have a split hoof, but do not chew cud, but they do eat from amongst feces, and if I extend maaleh gairah to redigestion, then why aren't pigs kosher? There is no reason why redigestion of one type should be included, but not another type. Thus, it is the same sophistry as answer 1. It answers this question, but one would not have derived the answer as a distinction without the question. Which ever animal I want to include, I just find a uniqueness about their digestion and call it maaleh gairah. It also requires the fundamentalist to go against the consensus of Rishonim in redefining maaleh gairah. All of them say that rumination means bringing it back up, as Rashi in parshas Shmini.

Answer 4 is the typical fundamentalist, Gossean burp. It gets a little support in this case, because a 1975 study claimed to confirm that hyraxes do indeed chew their cud for very short periods during a 24 hour period. The study claimed to witness the cud chewing, though I have not seen any peer review. This is still weak on grounds that it is not much of an indicator if only one study under 24 hour surveillance could show evidence, so how could the average observer ever see it. It does not help our friend, the hare, either. However, since someone says that hyraxes chew their cud, who is to say that hares do not. Maybe they do, and more studies will show that they do at some time. If the Torah says that they do, then we just don't understand how they do, but they do. Uhhhh .... OK.

R. Slifkin has already written extensively on the evidence in The Camel, The Hare and the Hyrax, so I hope this summary is helpful, but it is rehashing. So, DE has a strong point on this one. However, kiruvistim should not be hiding on these points. One, they should admit that the Chazal knew nothing of animals to which they had not been exposed and drop all proofs of Torah min HaShamayim from the 4 animals and animal based prophecies as proof. Two, they should declare that, while we do not understand how this matter correlates with Torah, we must continue to ask the question. Ultimately, with some data that does not exist today, we may obtain an answer that does indeed correlate clearly, without stretching or forcing, but we do not yet have that answer. Nor should there be a time limit, since scientific discovery is not limited by time. (This is a bit answer 4-ish, but that is OK as long as you acknowledge the weakness of it, that it has not been shown, and that any answer is speculative.) Three, they should acknowledge that such questions broaden the base of Torah learning and interest, and that only by encouraging the question to be asked, will it ever be answered. Four, they should state they they are not afraid of questions that they cannot currently answer, because they are confident that an answer will one day present itself. In short, they should acknowledge that it is a good question, and like all good questions, it is good that we have Jews knowledgeable enough to help us extend our study of Torah.

I have not used a lot of links in this, but the matters discussed are pretty open to google search.


  • Daat Emet changed its forward. It is not the first time that distortionist but later shown to be inconvenient articles or questions disappear from his site. The AntiSemites are very happy to preserve his old material though. I preserve his old material too as you never know when it may disappear. An inconsistency on his part is when convenient he says we don't rely on Agadas and when convenient he does.
    Yisrael Asper Again

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 PM  

  • Rodents do not appear to ruminate.

    By Anonymous amateur zoologist, at 12:33 AM  

  • I think the correct term is "coprophagy". And it's not such a bad answer at all for the Hare, since after all it is technically identical to rumination (food is processed twice), but I think that even R. Slifkin would agree that he does not have a good answer for the Hyrax.

    By Blogger Hayim, at 5:06 AM  

  • AZ
    While anyone who views a rodnet sniffing the air might THINK they are ruminating, they might be able to force it into that answer. The point was that once we start to broaden the definition of maaleh gairah, the infrastructure of the answer begins to fall apart in this case. You are correct. What I meant was not clear from what I said. Alas!

    The term for hares eating their pellets (not their feces) is cacotrophy. The term caprophagy applies to what rats, horses and pigs do. The point is, why can we redefine cacotrophy as maaleh gairah, and not caprophagy. They are both redigesting. And if we include caprophagy, shouldn't pigs be kosher, and should their be more single indicator animals?

    I think the second answer is best so far, but that is only so far. As I said, or at least meant, the Talmud's proof of divine authorship was not that he knew all the animals through prophecy, but that he knew the "known" ones, even though he was not a professional. Similarly, anytime the Talmud claims a proof for divine authorship, it is not against those who say that facts contradict the Torah, but against those who say that the Torah does not CLAIM divine authorship. EG "And Haman said in his heart", from here we have proof that the megillah is min hashamayim.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 6:45 AM  

  • How is it that the AntiSemitic sites have old versions of pages from Daat Emet? Daat Emet has a copyright to all those pages. Does this mean that Daat Emet gave those sites the right to keep pages from it?
    Yisrael Asper again

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:59 PM  

  • {Well piece by piece I can write some more on the challenges Daat Emet poses until I'm just left with his mouth without quotes. I actually stick to his quotes except incidentally more when at all to his ramblings. Daat Emet is after all first and foremost a duplicious site.}The {}Represent my comments.
    Daat Emet writes in pamphlet 1:
    "…(Tractate Rosh Hashanah 21b)…50 measures of understanding were created in this world and all were given to Moshe Rabbeynu OBM at Sinai aside from one, as it is said: "That You have made him little less than divine."
    And so writes the Ramban in his introduction to Genesis: "All that was said through prophecy, from the matter of the chariot and the matter of creation, and what was received of them by the sages, with the four lower powers—mineral, vegetable, the mobile soul and the speaking soul—all were said to Moshe Rabbeynu, etc. The fifty measures of understanding are one measure of mineralogy, and one measure of knowledge of ground plants, and one measure of knowledge of trees and animals and birds and reptiles, etc. All these are the knowledge of Chazal and their understanding, and about their wisdom it has been said that if we are as men, they are as angels…Is spontaneous abiogenesis possible? (From the Greek: spontaneous creation of life from objects not alive.) That is—is the spontaneous creation of living matter or life forms from inanimate material possible?
    The early generations believed that creatures such as vermin and insects and even fish and rodents were created from mold, that is, from rotted material or from the mud. This opinion obviously relied on the appearance of these type of creatures in different materials with no source of life apparent to the naked eye. Given the influence of Aristotle, this opinion reigned in biology during antiquity, the Middle Ages, and up through the 17th century. Eventually, of course, it was proved for all those cases that living creatures are only created from their similar parents and that life can not stem from anything other than life. Never is life spontaneously created from inanimate materials.
    In Masechet Shabbat 107b it is said "A louse does not reproduce,"… And on page 12b it states: "Rabbah killed them" (Rashi’s commentary: "killed them even on Sabbath," the reason being that lice do not reproduce, but "from the flesh of man they swarm," end of quote.)
    And the Tosfot there says: Lest he kill—it is written that there are two types of lice, the black jumping louse which is created from the dust, as is written "Hit the dust of the ground and it will become lice," and there is another type, swarming head lice which do not reproduce, but come from the sweat of man. And the Rosh, in chapter one, section 29, says: One may kill white head lice which come from old clothes.
    The Ran also writes: "Rav Huna said: ‘and all the fleas’ is the jumping louse, and should you ask why is the jumper forbidden, as it is from the dust and does not reproduce, it should be said that this principle serves us only to exclude vermin created from mold, such as lice -- but all that is created from dust has vitality in it, as though it had reproduced from male and female, and one who kills it on Shabbat is liable," end of quote…the louse…According to Rashi it is created from man’s flesh, according to the Tosfos from the sweat of man, according to the Rosh from old clothes, and according to the Ran from mold. (A flea, according to some of the Rishonim, is created from dust.)
    We will add and emphasize that the Gemara in Shabbat, on page 107b, asks: "And does the louse not reproduce? Yet it is said: G-d sits and nourishes all, from the karnei re’emim to the eggs of lice" (meaning that there are eggs from which come lice, and therefore lice do reproduce). And they explained it: "There is a creature which is called "eggs of lice" (that is, there is a different type of insect whose name is "eggs of lice")…
    Encyclopedia HaChai V’HaTzomeach Shel Eretz Yisrael (Ministry of Defense Publishing—the book is found in every public library and is well worth reading), that "there are lice which reproduce by parthenogenesis." And you, the wise student who shows no favoritism, come and see how your rabbis answer—we claim apples and they answer oranges. Or, perhaps, they didn’t understand what they read at all, or even worse. Parthenogenesis is sexual reproduction, {by definition it is not sexual} but the female provides the impregnating material to the egg she produces. {She does it all}. Is this "creation from mold"? Is this reproduction in which there is no resemblance between the inanimate material which births and the living thing which is born? Something born through parthenogenesis is exactly like the being which birthed it {exactly, asexually reproduced}. On the other hand, what similarity is there between mold (or flesh, sweat, or rags) and a living, crawling louse?
    Their explanations are worth nothing—quite the opposite. They’ve strengthened our words, that spontaneous creation of life from the inanimate, to which sages had attributed the louse, never has happened. {According to science it has at least in the past, further according to the fuller Talmudic quote of Shabbat 107b the topic is not one of simple pronouncement of the Chazal but one of deducing after thinking back and forth "…it was taught, R. Eliezer said: He who kills vermin on the Sabbath is as though he killed a camel on the Sabbath. R. Joseph demurred to this: The Rabbis disagree with R. Eliezer only in respect to vermin, which does not multiply and increase, but as for other abominations and creeping things, which multiply and increase, they do not differ. And both learn it from none but the rams. R. Eliezer holds, It is as the rams: just as there was the taking of life in the case of the rams, so whatever constitutes the taking of life. While the Rabbis argue, It is as the rams: just as rams multiply and increase, so are all which multiply and increase. Said Abaye to him, Do not vermin multiply and increase? But a Master [a Tanna, a Rabbi from Mishnaic times] said: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, sits and sustains, from the horns of wild oxen to the eggs of vermin'? — It is a species called 'eggs of vermin'. But it was taught: Tippuyyi and the eggs of vermin? — The species is called 'eggs of vermin'. But there is the flea, which multiplies and increases, yet it was taught, If one catches a flea on the Sabbath: R. Eliezer declares him liable, while R. Joshua exempts [him]? …"
    Daat Emet blew his case. This isn’t something arrived at by the Rabbis through unanimous passing down of tradition but through deduction whether over tradition or science with rabbis saying it is so and those saying otherwise. Further the Rambam believed in creation from the inanimate because of the science of his day not because of the Talmud.}…
    The Rambam, in "Sefer HaMitzvot" prohibition 177, counted the insects which do not reproduce as a prohibition of their own and thereby determined a special commandment within the 613 commandments, and thus he wrote: "that we have been warned against eating the insects which are created from mold, etc. This is the difference between when it says ‘the insects which teem upon the earth’ and ‘the insects which swarm upon the earth’, because the insects which teem upon the earth are insects which have the power of procreation, and thus they will teem upon the earth, and the insects which swarm are the insects created from mold, which do not procreate and do not birth other creatures similar to themselves," etc., end of quote.
    And the Rambam once again recalled this issue for prohibition 179 and expanded on it there, to the point that he stood as a bulwark against those who would appeal against it, as he said, "It is not considered impossible that the ant or wasp birth from mold, and others like them amongst the birds and vermin, which are from mold within food, except by those who know nothing of natural wisdom."… {not really as assuming it would really make up a special commandment amongst the 613 commandments as alleged by Daat Emet it would really by now be restated for those who reject the Rambam’s scientific statement here as meaning "the insects which swarm" which is what the Rambam was referring to. How we identify "the insects which swarm" is a matter of dispute but that’s the real concept. It is the same with dictionary definitions which may state a definition based on wrong science but as long as we know what it is referring to it doesn’t change the meaning. We are far from having unanimous agreement on how to translate the Bible and animal and plant names are certainly no exception in it. Rabbi Gil Student writes: "According to Rav Dessler, this prohibition should remain also. The Torah commanded us not to eat insects that appear to us as if they grow out of mold.
    However, this entire line of questioning is incorrect for a more fundamental reason. Even if we assume that no insects are spontaneously generated and that the prohibition is meaningless, this has minimal implications. To understand why, we need to know a little more about the "books of commandments" literature.
    The source of this literature is the Gemara in Makot 23b:
    R' Simlai exposited (darash): 613 commandments were given to Moshe at Sinai - 365 like the days of a solar year and 248 like the number of limbs in a person. Rav Hamnuna said: What is the textual source? "Moshe commanded us a Torah" (Deuteronomy 3:4). Torah is that in gematria (numerical equivalence). They asked: Torah is only 611 in gematria. [He answered:] That is because they heard "I am [the Lord your G-d]..." and "You shall not have unto you..." (Exodus 20:2) directly from G-d.
    This, and a few other aggadic sources (e.g. Rashi on Genesis 32:5, Numbers 7:20, 15:39), is the basis of the count of 613 commandments (the number of knots in tzitzit is merely a custom; see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 11:14 and Bet Yosef there sv um"sh ela ikar). Ramban, in his comments to Rambam's Sefer Hamitzvot (p. 1) even suggests:
    Perhaps this statement of R' Simlai is not unanimous but is disputed. R' Simlai counted the commandments as he saw fit and arrived at this number. He then established this textual exposition (drasha).
    Everyone agrees that G-d commanded us many things. However, the classification of these commandments determines how many commandments there are. Should the daily morning and afternoon sacrifices be counted as one or two mitzvot? Are fearing and respecting one's parents counted as one or two? The classification and categorization of commandments is crucial for developing a count but it is also very subjective. It requires many uses of personal judgement that are, in the end, irrelevant.
    The first endeavor to list all 613 mitzvot was the important geonic work Halachot Gedolot. R' Saadia Gaon also listed the commandments but his work was lost to us. R' Yerucham Fishel Perlow recently tried to recreate this list based on a piyut (liturgical poem) that R' Saadia Gaon wrote for Shavuot. The Rambam wrote his list in Sefer Hamitzvot and prefaced it with14 rules on classification. This Sefer Hamitzvot contains many disagreements with Halachot Gedolot. There are many places where Rambam removed a commandment that Halachot Gedolot listed and added a different commandment. Of course, they both agreed on what was commanded but they disagreed on how these commandments should be classified. Ramban rose to defend Halachot Gedolot and changed 34 commandments in Rambam's list. Other important lists of mitzvot were Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (Smag) by R' Moshe of Coucy and Zohar Harakia by R' Shimon ben Tzemach (Rashbatz) Duran.
    With all this background, we can easily see that removing a commandment from Rambam's list is not a big deal. There are many other mitzvot that can take its place (according to Ramban, 34). Even if we did not replace it, it is possible that the entire concept of 613 commandments is a single aggadic opinion." The Rambam’s list certainly seems to be reigning but it hardly is a basis for projecting the what Chazal thought from times past before and after his time.}
    Another example of a creature which does not exist in reality is the mouse mentioned in Masechet Hulin, page 126b, in the Mishna: "A mouse who is half flesh and half dirt, one who touches the flesh is impure, the dirt, pure."…Rashi, in Mishna 126 commented: "There is a type of mouse which does not reproduce but which is itself made from dirt, as trash which teems with worms, and if the mouse has not yet been created—only its right or left half—one who touches the flesh is impure, the dirt side is pure."
    The Tosfot Yom Tov, in Hulin 89, Mishna 6 even brings a proof about the creation of the world from this mouse: "And this, in my opinion, is a great complaint against those who believe in the primordial nature [of the world]," end of quote…
    And not only the Rishonim thought that, {the half earth mouse existed} the Achronim after them did, too. {Some rabbis did, some not. The Rambam (the great Rishon) only did because he heard reports of them from so many.} The Tiferet Yisrael (89, Mishna 6, Hulin), despite hearing that there was no such creature, wrote thus: "I heard apostates mocking about a creature mentioned here and in Sanhedrin, denying and saying that it does not exist in reality at all, and I wanted to recall here what I saw in a German book, written by a wise man named Link, famous for his knowledge of secular wisdom, in his book Ihrvelt, part one, page 327, who did find such a creature in Egypt, in the province of Tahabaim; the mouse is called Dipus Vaculus in Egyptian and in German is called Springmaus. Its frontmost parts, the head, chest and paws are well-described, and its hindmost parts are still covered in clods of earth, until one day it becomes completely flesh," end of quote.
    And the Mishnah Brura, written by the author of "Chofetz Chayim" who lived after it was definitely known that there is no life but from life, ruled and wrote (section 316, paragraph 9, subsection 38): "Since red rams reproduce and multiply, it is the same for all which reproduce and multiply; this is not so for lice which do not come from male and female, but come from sweat and are not considered creatures; however fleas, even though they also do not reproduce, since they were created from dust have vitality as though they were created of male and female and one who kills them is culpable," end of quote (and see Biur Halacha, where it says "To kill it—of the wonders of creations of insects and vermin and worms…")…
    Today we know that… never has life been spontaneously created from the inanimate. {Yes it did and if life exists elsewhere it will under admittedly unusual circumstances relative to daily life.} Since it is impossible, Heaven forbid, to blame this lack of scientific knowledge on G-d who knows all things {Daat Emet is an atheist now but not for his pamphlets} it follows that Chazal’s knowledge in matters of reality comes not from the Divine or from Sinai but from their own understanding. {What reality? Cars, stars? Fine.}…
    Here it is appropriate to conclude with the words of the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim, part 3, chapter 14: "And do not ask me to reconcile everything that [the Sages] said on matters of astronomy with the situation as it really is, since science at that time was lacking and they did not speak so because they had a tradition of those things from the Prophets, but from the scholars of those generations in those disciplines or they heard them from the scholars of those generations, and this is not the reason to say of those things that match the truth that they are incorrect or accidentally correct, but all that can be clarified so that it matches proven reality is better and more correct," end of quote. {The Rambam he first made out to be just going along with his supposedly unanimous Chazal and now he is being used to go against them. Daat Emet is inconsistent.}
    We find that also in the opinion of the Rambam, the "great eagle" and authoritative halachic rule-maker, Chazal’s knowledge was no greater than that of the scholars of those early generations…. And with this we have concluded the first section, the section on vermin, in order that you should learn and check the words of Chazal, the Rishonim, and Achronim to see if they have been verified by reality; that you should be as a thinking man and not as a fool who accepts everything [Typical mocking tone on his part. Adults needn’t worry about it.] …The many true believers who publicize Torah and commandments to the secular in an attempt to "return them to religion" are well known, so why aren’t the secular allowed to publicize their wisdom to the Charedi public to open their eyes and lead them from the darkness into the light? {Daat Emet is no ray of light but a demogouge.}
    And on this question Rabbi Mordechai Gerlitz, in the HaModia newspaper, wrote an article titled "Elul on both sides of the wall,"and these are his words: "It is just the duty of secular to and take interest in what is happening on the other side of the wall…but the people of the religious camp, on the other hand, have an opposite obligation: to fortify themselves on their own side, to believe only in the truth which exists in their own camp and not to pay any slight attention to listen, G-d forbid, to the voices which come from the other side of the wall!" These bare words were really written in a Charedi newspaper, meaning that the Torah and its sages can not deal with the questions of those who do not believe in Torah from the heavens, and therefore "every glance at the other side of the wall" will be considered a grievous sin.
    Did anyone ever forbid, in a secular newspaper, "peeking at the other side of the wall"? {Daat Emet does with its tight censorship and push to forbid Judaism from being propagated by force of law. Secular newspapers censor plenty.} It seems that the secular believe in their immunity and the truth of their beliefs more than R’ Gerlitz believes in the power of his faith to stand criticism, even of a hasty glance! {The Secular can believe or not they don’t have one immunity and truth despite what Daat Emet thinks and whether they feel secure in it varies.}…"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 PM  

  • Next on Pamphlet 2 with my {} comments
    Daat Emet writes:
    …“Ben Bag Bag said: Turn it over and turn it [again] for all is contained therein” (Avot, chapter 5, mishna 22)…

    It is accepted by us that just as the Written Torah was given at Sinai, so too were the scientific words in the Talmud handed down from Sinai. These are the words of Chazal (Mesechet Rosh Hashanah 21b,), who said that 50 measures of understanding were created in this world and all were given to Moshe Rabbeynu OBM at Sinai aside from one, as it is said: “That You have made him little less than divine.”…

    We have found in the Writings: “One should not validate the words of doctors against the words of the Sages which are as a pegs established forever,” the words of the “Chazon Ish” in Hilchot Treifot chapter 5 section 3.

    And so wrote the Saba of Kelem “B’m’orot Gedolim,” “What the renowned wise man Aristotle, chief of philosophers, innovated in philosophy throughout his life, is found hidden and intended in one word by Rabbeynu Yonah in the book ‘Shaarei Teshuvah’.”

    And now we will clarify the knowledge of Chazal about the anatomy of the animal, from which halacha in all issues of treifot were determined. {Here comes the thrust of his argument: Supposedly the Chazal had used the anatomy outlined by him below as the basis of deciding all issues of treifot and they had it wrong and so all treifot laws are then based on nothing} We will prove, G-d willing, that the pegs of the sages are not established forever but rather the opposite.

    One of the types of treifot is the drusa—an animal known to have been attacked by a beast of prey, and in Hulin page 42, in the mishna, they counted the prey saved from the attack of a wolf, and Rashi commented that it strikes with its nails and poisons it and burns it.
    And so it is written in the Gemara, in Hulin page 53a: there is no prey except by forefoot, to exclude by hindfoot, there is no prey except in life, to exclude after death, and the Gemara adds that if it was preyed upon and [the attacker’s] forefoot was cut off before it managed to retract the forefoot it does not project its venom. And in the words of Chazal there: “Now, if you say unintentionally, is it necessary to say not after death? No, it is necessary, for if people cut its forefeet off while it was attacking you might think it discharges its venom when it inserts its nails. This comes to teach us that it discharges its venom when it retracts its nails.”…{Daat Emet’s argument is not the best. Language can be looser especially when dealing with ancient terms. The idea of a poison’s result is what is for sure meant. The rest is a matter of debate: namely what is meant by poison in the Talmud? What is meant for it by modern science? Did different Rabbis have different pictures of what it meant? The word poison here is open to dispute amongst translators. }
    The whole issue of the drusa is also brought in the Cuzari (see there, fourth article, section 31) as a proof and sign of Chazal’s knowledge of realistic knowledge…

    And the Sages’ claim that these animals secret venom is particularly difficult. The Rambam, in the laws of shechitah chapter 5, halacha 3 wrote, “And even though they all (all types of treifot) are law handed down by Moses on Sinai, since none are mentioned explicitly in the Torah except for the drusa they were stringent about it and every doubt which arises about a drusa makes it forbidden.”
    It turns out, therefore, that the only treifah explicitly mentioned in the Torah is not found in reality at all! {Whether it is the only one explicitly mentioned or not, however one interprets the venom, the fact is that the definition of a drusa is that it is an animal that was pierced by a predators nails. The planets didn’t stop being called planets once their definition could no longer be phrased as defining starlike bodies that orbit the Earth and move separately from the “fixed” stars. }

    And in the book “Mitchtav M’Eliyahu” by R’ Eliyahu Dessler (volume 4, page 355) he was asked about this issue and answered that one should not change halacha, even if its cause has ceased to be. The book’s editor, Rabbi Friedlander OBM, found a pretext that issue of the drusa is not the projection of venom but the fear of filth and dirt which accumulate under the nails, which could lead to pollution and could kill the slashed animal (and by this agrees that beasts of prey have no venom, nullifying the words of the holy Gemara!) {The Gemara is accepted for Halacha so there would be no harm}…And to reinforce our words I will further state that according to “Michtav M’Eliyahu” the pollution is what makes it trief, and logically there is no difference between a forefoot or hindfoot—with both of them the rule should be treif, but Chazal, in Hulin page 53a, say that it is considered as being drusa by forefoot, to exclude the hindfoot. {It is typical of Daat Emet’s style to say what the halacha is to be according to him and then condemn it or use it for supposed contradictions}…

    And if we are dealing with treifot, we will bring more from Masechet Hulin, page 45b,: “If it pierced the heart to its chamber, it is treif. Rabbi Zira asked: to the small chamber or the large chamber?” And Rashi interprets: “the large chamber, the middle chamber, the small chamber: there are many chambers around it,” end of quote. And so interprets the Ran.
    And the Rashba, in “Torat HaBayit” wrote: There are three chambers to the heart, one is large in the center, and there are two smaller ones, one to the right and one to the left.
    And so rules the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah, chapter 40: “The heart has three chambers, etc.”…

    About these the “Yad Yehuda” wrote in his laws of treifot, chapter 30: “And it is clear that our master the Rashba OBM was not an expert in this, it is only that this is how it appears from the view of the Gemara.” …

    And…the author of the Tanya, whose words all are kaballah and the Divine spirit coming from his throat? He writes in Part A, chapter 9: “The left chamber of the heart is full of blood, etc. and also the right chamber of the heart which has no blood, as is written, ‘a wise heart to his right’.”…

    It is obvious that an understanding of the actions of the heart and the cycle of blood in an animal’s body is predicated on correct knowledge of the anatomy of the heart and its functioning; anyone who is not expert in these simple and obvious matters can not be called a scholar nor an expert but an ignoramus, with all due respect. And how will one who is not expert in simple reality make halachic rulings? {How many chambers there are and how many filled with blood doesn’t affect the halacha.}

    About these did the “Yad Yehuda,” in the laws of treifot, say: “And we find that in some matters they were not fully expert, etc. and this is not to detract from their honor, as we have also found in the Gemara in Hulin 57a that Chizkiyah said a bird has no lung and Rabbi Yochanan said it has. The Gemara concluded ‘from the words of Baribi (Chizkiyah) it is obvious that he is not expert in fowl.”…

    And look at the more difficult example of the sages’ ignorance of reality. {This statement comes from a man who in the previous pamphlet thought his great victory was knowledge of scientific reality and was mistaken far more fundamentally than the in the examples he gives in this 2nd pamphlet} In Hulin page 45b it is said, “Amimar said in Rabbi Nachman’s name, ‘there are three windpipes, one goes off to the heart and one goes off to the lungs and one goes off to the liver’.” And Rashi commented that the windpipe enters the chest and divides in three… According to Chazal through Rashi’s interpretation: the windpipe branches off to the lungs, the liver, and the heart… The author of “Kehilat Yaakov,” the Steipler… wrote (in Hulin section 17) about the needle found in the liver, “that there is a vein which goes from the liver to the lung.”…And on that same topic, the Rama (Yoreh Dayah, section 40, article 3) says: “If it (the needle) was only found in the large tube in the heart and the vessel to the outside, that is, next to the open area of the heart, if the head of the needle is as the seed of a date-palm, it is kosher, as something which enters through the windpipe to the tube and through to the heart.”…

    And…the “Yad Yehuda” (R’ Leibush Landa,…) said on this matter in the introduction to chapter 30: “I always thought that the liver really hangs from the windpipe, since this is what it seems from Rashi’s interpretation on page 45b about ‘Amimar said…there are three pipes, one goes off to the heart, etc.’ and Rashi interpreted ‘that after the pipe enters the chest it splits in three,’ end of quote and that is what the world thinks, etc. but I have seen that really they (the liver and heart) have no connection to the windpipe. That the windpipe, after it enters the chest, splits in two, one enters one part of the lung and one the other. But the windpipe does not go to the heart and the liver at all. This I have seen with my own eyes and this is what is brought by surgical scholars.”…if the Tanaim and Amoraim, the Rishonim and Achronim made mistakes about things in reality and spoke of their own accord, how very much more so [is it true] that not in a single word nor in an entire book of Rabbeynu Yonah is there wisdom like the wisdom of the philosopher Aristotle, as the Saba of Kelem boasted above. The holy Rambam said that Aristotle was the chief of all philosophers and also said about him, in the book Moreh Nevuchim, section 2, chapter 14 about the commands of scholars, “And I will pay attention to none save Aristotle, for his opinions are worthy of study.” The scholar Aristotle looked at reality correctly and found therein the truth. {If Daat Emet really believes this he’s very behind the times}…an announcement was publicized throughout Bnei Brak in the name of Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landa, head of the Bnei Brak Beit Din, about these pamphlets. What reason he had for calling us heretics and missionaries we do not know. The rabbi knows well who we are and from which yeshivas we have come. Are all Jews who seek knowledge and truth to be called heretics and missionaries? After all, we hate the Christian faith with all our heart and soul. {He is a man of many faces.}

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:48 PM  

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