March 25, 2008

Genesis Shmenesis

Remember all the hours spent on discussing Bereshit, and how it does not match up with science? Feh. Thats nothing. You could somehow wiggle out of that by claiming its all a mashal. No. The real problematic parasha is non other than this weeks parasha (Checking calendar). Parashat Shemini.

So why is this parasha more problematic? Well, I think because this one deals with a clear example of halacha that could be checked to see if its true or not. This parasha is famous for introducing us the greatest of all animals.....the shafan. I don't think I need to get into it. The Torah says the shafan chews its cud when it clearly doesn't Lev. 11:5) . An interesting point is the commentary Artscroll includes:
Thus they appear to chew their cud, but what they do is in no way similar to cows and sheep. Perhaps the term "bringing up its cud" simply refers to any animal that brings food back to its mouth from its stomach whether or not it is like a cow.
Perhaps?? LOL, what happened to the oral law. Isn't the oral law supposed to tell you what something like that means? And this is not some complicate legal issue that depending on circumstances, might change the outcome. We are dealing with a one time definition that sticks throughout the generations.

Now, there is also another issue that I don't think I have ever seen dealt with:

Lev. 11:20 Every flying teeming creature that walks on four legs - it is an abomination to you. Only this may you eat from among all flying teeming creatures that walk on four legs: One that has jumping legs above its legs, with which to spring upon the earth.

The problem obviously is that insects, which what is being talked about here only have six legs. Artscroll jumps in and says:
R' D.Z. Hoffman raises the difficultly that all insects have six legs not four. He explains that they have four legs that are used for simple walking, while the other two are used for jumping [grasshoppers].
But that does not really help much sense since the next pasuk clearly mentions that. Meaning the first pasuk is obviously talking about insects OTHER than the ones that use two to jump. I remember this bothered me a lot, so I decided to do a little research, and I finally came up with this friendly guy. Besides basically walking on four legs (it uses the other two legs as claws to kill prey) and flying, it is also predatory and the females are known to eat the males. This seems to fit the pattern in the Torah of forbidding eating animals that are predatory. So you would think the problem is solved, right? Well, I brought my findings to non other than Rabbi Slifkin and he told me I am wrong and that it does not fit the sheretz that the Torah speaks about. :( I forgot what he told me, so please feel free to email him and ask. Too bad though. I really would have liked my name printed in some commentary.