Divrei Torah on the weekly portions
Having recently left Egypt, the Jewish People were given the laws of Kashrut. The latter part of our Sidra deals with the subject of kosher animals, fish and birds.
Animals can be classified under the following four headings:
Only the animals in category (1) are kosher.
Interestingly, the Torah enumerates (in VaYikra 11:4-7) the world’s only three animals in category (2), namely gamal, shafan and arnevet, and the world’s only animal in (3), the chazir. (We will translate these words shortly.) This statement (Chulin 59a and Rambam Hilchot Ma’achalot Asurot 1:2-3) that there are no other animals in the world satisfying the criteria for categories (2) or (3) adds to the testimony that the Torah’s origins are divine, since no human would dare make such a bold statement. Regarding this, the Gemara comments (Chulin 60b) that Moshe was not a zoologist, deep-sea diver or ornithologist.
Our Rabbis teach that chazir is the pig family, but what are the gamal, shafan and arnevet? It is important to note that these Biblical words may not necessarily mean the same as in modern Hebrew where the respective translations are camel, cony and hare. In fact, the cony and hare neither chew their cud nor have split hooves.
Furthermore, why is it that:
In the journal “Intercom” (published in 1973 by the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists), Rabbi Meyer Lubin provides the following explanation based on his research in conjunction with leading zoologists:
In conclusion, Shemini teaches us to take great care over what enters our mouth. The following Sidrot, Tazria and Metzora, remind us that we must similarly take great care over what leaves our mouth.
PS Kosher symbols you may not know: