Two of my readers told me last week that whenever they see the word "hyrax" in a post, they stop reading. I am sympathetic to that, but if you are such a person, I urge you to make today an exception! This post is more about the general idea of Rishonim having ruach hakodesh; the hyrax is only appearing incidentally.Slifkin writes that "we should not be viewing the Torah as some sort of ultimate scientific text reflecting perfect Divine knowledge of the physical universe". Slifkin's statements are both a scientific (see previous posts by Dr. Betech) and a metaphysical falsehood. Here are some of the problems with his statement quoted above.
Today is Hyrax Day - the day that Daf Yomi studies Chullin 59b, which launches the discussion of the camel, the hare and the hyrax. There are those who suggest that the shafan is not the hyrax, but instead is the rabbit. Previously, I noted that the reason why some Rishonim (medieval Torah scholars) believed that is that they lived in Spain, and were thus familiar with rabbits, but not with hyraxes. The shafan of the Chumash, Mishlei and Tehillim, on the other hand, must have been an animal from the Land of Israel - and in Israel there are plenty of hyraxes (there is one ten feet away from me right now!) but no rabbits.
1. It is not only the Rishonim who translated shafan as rabbit. The authors of the Targumim were familiar with our mesora (and with the Middle East) and they translate Shafan as טפזא (jumping). The Aruch Hashalem in one translation of טפזא has springhasse, i.e. jumping rabbit. Jastrow also translates טפזא as rabbit.
2. David Hamelech in Tehillim (also inspired by ruach Hakodesh) is addressing all of creation, not just the land of Israel. See for example how Radak and Malbim explain Borchi Nafshi. In the Tanach we are told about new animals brought to Eretz Yisroel in the times of Shlomo Hamelech.
The Talmud in Chulin 59a describes Hashem as Shalit beolamo, i.e. the Ruler of the His World, the One Who knows that only the camel is maaleh geira and yet tamei. ... So, of course, Hashem knows all the animals of this world. Who could think otherwise?
I wish all our readers Shabbat Shalom. This week's parsha (and this week's daf yomi) are indeed providential. There is an additional mitzvah in learning about all the signs of kosher animals, to know how to distinguish between those animals that are tamei and those that are tahor.