Thoughts on Judaism

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

DaatEmet - Treifos

In the Gemorra Chulin, 53, the laws of a drusa are discussed. They are codified in the Mishneh Torah, hilchos Shchita, and particularly, ch 5 on which we will focus. As DaatEmet points out, the only Torah treifah is a drusah, an animal that has been clawed by a predator beyond the ability to recover. All of the toehr 7 signs and numerous restrictions are Rabinic. However, in the Gemora, it states that a drusah dies because of the poison that the claws of the predator inject into the animal. According to their science, the poison is injected at the withdrawal of the claw. Such a poison is assumed to be part of the physiology of predatory large felines, birds, and there is argument about canines. Thus, the gemorra brings the case where a lion's claw is severed during attack and it never withdraws its claw, concluding that it is not drusah. Two poskim stand out. The Tosfos points out that such a case is not practical because the predator may have attacked many times and we have only witnessed the final attack. The Rambam does not mention the poison at all, but indicates that one might examine the inwardds of the prey to determine if were indeed a drusah. One thing is clear from both of the answers. It is the apparent condition of the animal rather than the theory that determines the halacha.

DaatEmet uses this theory of poison to conclude that there is no such thing in reality as a treifah, since a drusah is depends on poison that does not exist. He successfully refutes the Michtav M'eliyahu zt"l, one the most brilliant rationalist rabanim of modern times, who says that the poison is actually the spoiled remains of prey around the nails, which cause infections. The obvious refutation is that this poison is introduced at penetration, not at retraction. And here hinges the big point. A fundamentalist is now forced to conclude something preposterous to defend the poisnon injection. However, if one looks at the matter, it is clear what happened.

Contemporary science saw that predator claws cause redness, swelling and wasting flesh in the vast majority of cases. Its students concluded that some poison was the culprit and therefore, that it was introduced at retraction, like snake poison or any glandular poison. Halacha concluded similarly, and added legal implications. The Tosfos and Rambam make this clear. The Tosfos refutes the practical implications of the case in the gemorra, saying that it is never possible to know for sure that the animal did not retract its claws. On the contrary, appearance of the diseased inwards would effectively prove that retraction had occurred. The Rambam does not even bring the gemorra's theoretical case and bids the observer to look at the flesh itself in determining whether the animal is drusah or not. IOW, the halacha clearly and definitively goes according to the apparent observation of the layman, not according to the carefully controlled observation someone who seeks a deeper explanation. If you see X, conclude Y. In halacha, this is called "chazaka", and the entire sea of Jewish Law depends it. In fact, the entire sea if Rabinic Law that is designated as "fences" was developed, by and large, to protect the lay observer from these gaps. In the case of treifos, the Rambam clearly states the matter that the chazakas of the rabanim stand, regardless of observed reality.

So as we discuss astronomy, zoology, cryptozoology, biology and the like, keep in mind that the attacks largely fall on the fundamentalist approach, though the rationalists are not entirely immune, as we saw before.


  • >Contemporary science saw that predator claws cause redness

    Very good point. Anyone who argues on halacha using these types of arguments shows that they do not understand halacha.

    By Blogger The Jewish Freak, at 4:48 PM  

  • Ever hear of cat scratch disease? Large and small cats can carry it in their saliva. If you have ever been scratched by a kitten you might have had a mild case of it. It is bacterial.

    It's possible that one of the Chazal were scratched or bitten by a cat and developed serious symptoms, especially if he was allergic to cat saliva, and this may have translated, in his mind, into something bigger. He may have assumed that such reactions are common in any animal scratched or clawed by a cat or lion.

    I am a devout cat owner. Or do they own me?

    By Blogger Shlomo, at 12:32 AM  

  • SLA
    Cat scratch disease is transmitted at penetration, not at retraction. The Rambam would only have us look at the results, the penetration to the internal body cavity and attendant redness or wasted flesh. Cat scratch disease does not require penetration into the internal body cavity. It is a topical infection. This answer is similar to that of Rav Dessler.

    Interestingly, the sages do discuss whether housecat has poison enough to kill birds and render them treif or not.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 9:27 AM  

  • "
    Question: Publication date: 09-04-2006
    Title: Hayitachen?
    Content: Is it absolutely necessary to make available to a whole world of people who are looking for excuses to harm Jews all the chilukim in Halacha between Jews and goyim?

    Is there one person in the world who will become a greater yirei shmayim because of this? Would you fell proud if the NY Times quoted your site and the Halacha of emet spread thought America and the whole world even causing the death of one Jew?

    R' Moshe Feinstein, z"l allowed members of Hatzalah to be mechalel Shabbat even with Isurei D'oraisa because he considered it "pikuach nefesh of a Jew" (not mishum eivah) since they will not respond to Jewish calls for help, yet you are b'yadaim giving them the ammunition to let Jews die in the street since, after all, we would do the same to them? If for Shalom bayis we are allowed to be meshaneh the emet why not simply not publicize it to save a life? Isn't that the reason Dovid Hamelech was mochek the Shem Hamefurash?

    What a burden you have placed on your shoulders. There are hundreds of thousands of Jews living among goyim and reshaim and you feel that the "end" - your spread of emet will justify the "means" - the placing of all these Jews in sakanah. Emet in Halacha is a lofty goal but to drag that emet into the forum of the internet where every evil person can use it for their own means is a perversion of all that Halacha stands for - to do the ratzon Hashem.

    Hashem yichapair ba'adchem v'yaster divreichem m'soneinu shelo yishpoch od dam yehudi b'glalchem.

    Most Sincerely,
    Yoel Silverberg

    Answer: Publication date: 09-04-2006
    Title: Hayitachen?
    Content: Dear Joel,

    We have decided to share with you a few thoughts produced by the contents of your letter.

    1. In this letter you represent the Orthodox point of view. For example, you express your doubt that even one person in the world will become a greater yirei shmaim as a result of our activity. Indeed, that is highly unlikely – if only because drawing people to religion, let alone religious Orthodoxy, is not our goal.

    2. Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that we speak completely different languages. Since you think as an Orthodox Jew, and we as ordinary rationalists, it is quite possible that each of us is wholly and totally right within the framework of his own cultural system. Without a doubt, an Orthodox believer is always right from his own point of view in a debate with the non-Orthodox. At the same time, most of his arguments are completely irrelevant to a secular person. Thus it would be a good idea to narrow the scale of our debate down to concepts and arguments that mean more or less the same thing for both of us.

    3. The only axiomatic statement you have made that can be rationally examined is the claim that the gentiles – or the goyim in your language – are villains and scoundrels. If not all, then most of them, at any rate. The poor defenseless Jews are forced to live among these fiends. You write, for example: “There are hundreds and thousands of Jews living among goyim and reshaim.” Among gentiles and villains! You offer no evidence in support of this claim, believing it to be more or less self-evident. The trouble is that we emphatically reject it.

    From our point of view, the majority of gentiles are far from evil, while the Jews are not all virtuous and defenseless. Most gentiles are completely decent people who have no inclination to inflict deliberate harm on anyone. The same probably applies to the majority of Jews. On the other hand, both the gentiles and the Jews contain quite a few vicious and aggressive people who cause untold harm to others -- whenever they have a chance, of course.

    There is no doubt that accepting your axiom regarding gentile maliciousness and Jewish defenselessness would be equivalent to agreeing with your view of our activity. On the other hand, accepting our view of human nature -- which holds, among other things, that the Jews are little different from the gentiles -- immediately puts our activity in a positive light.

    From our point of view, the Jews have won full equality throughout the Western world. No one impinges on their rights; their lives and property are protected to exactly the same extent as those of the gentiles -- say, the rest of US citizens. On the other hand, Jews that hold religious beliefs that deny the gentiles are their equals, deserving equal rights and equal protection. In Israel, this attitude finds glaring and regrettable expression; however, its effects in other places are equally worthy of note.

    We believe that the concept of Jewish exclusivity is at once mistaken, amoral, and dangerous. Among other things, our activity is intended to counteract this concept and its implications. We do not believe that in the modern civilized world the Jews are threatened by anything that does not threaten the gentiles. On the other hand, the advocates of Jewish superiority, as well as the advocates of any other kinds of superiority -- or, simply put, racists of every sort and nationality -- definitely pose a threat to others, not to say to all mankind.

    4. You assert that unmasking the true Jewish religious position would endanger the Jews. We believe that in the modern Western world no nation, including the Jews, is facing any kind of danger. Therefore, without any particular fear, we can strive to achieve our main objective: eradicating Jewish religious racism, creating conditions that would make its existence impossible. Speaking of which, religious Jews are always the first to speak out against others’ racism, which often threatens them. Why not apply the same yardstick to themselves, if only from time to time?

    5. In conclusion, we repeat: from the Jewish Orthodox point of view, we are certainly wrong. From the point of view of universal humanism, you are the one who is totally wrong. Thus all that remains for all of us to do is to choose the point of view. The rest is trivial.


    Daat Emet"

    Below is my (me again) response that I posted for his site:
    He needs proof and yet you don't? You are living in a dream world. Jews in
    France for example wear yarmulkas at their own risk. You ignore the news. What's
    more your supposed expose of Judaism's view of the Gentile is to a great extent
    a lie. Your view of the Talmud is also to a great extent a lie. You select and
    misinterpret and then you complain that you are not listened to in universities.
    Taking you seriously
    Yisrael Asper
    My email to Talk Reason unpublished so far:
    > For a serious and balanced view of Judaism's attitude to Gentiles see
    5 also see the Encyclopedia Judaica under Gentiles.
    Yaron Yadan's piece on the topic in Daat Emet is now only viewable on
    AntiSemitic sites such as the Nazi one. Previously it was on those sites and his

    The Meiri's tolerance he backed up by extensive neglect from the masses
    including from the rabbis. The Talmudic interdictions which varied in time
    basically in response to how the world treated the Jew were made for a
    persecuting idolatrous world that was noted to no longer exist in full form
    later. Still not taking even the more relatively refined world that followed is
    a stretch. Not taking that into account is like denying a context to a Black
    slave for his measure of negative feelings towards whites when the world he saw
    was one of horrifying treatment towards his people. Omission of full quotations
    and contexts and extrapolating from legalistic wording that do not imply
    anything beyond words describing legalistic backups and underpinnings that even
    sometimes include categories of pious Jews shows a selectiveness or ignorance
    that makes one wonder what is the point made. There is the sin or ignorance of
    omission. There is also plain wild extrapolation that betrays ignorance. What we
    have here is an unbalanced and wrongly thought out reasoning for Jewish
    attitudes towards Gentiles. Theory real and imagined counts for all, but actual
    practice doesn't? Usually people speak volumes of the later since it is the real
    force. The world has done great harm to the Jew who has given so much to it.
    Including giving it a moral fabric that we all in the Western World share to
    some degree. It should be explaining itself infinitely more so than is victims
    still fresh with the memory of the dead that culminated after two thousand years
    of hatred in the Holocaust, More so to explain not only degree but in kind.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:07 PM  

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