Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lacking in derech eretz and in knowledge

B”H
Lacking in derech eretz and in knowledge

This post is the continuation of the previous

1)
If someone sent a letter by electronic means, how long is it reasonable to wait until it is acceptable to say: I did not receive an answer?
Of course it is relative, but I have Natan Slifkin’s own criteria, i.e. two days (January 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM)

So I will use the same one.

After hundreds of comments in NS’s rationalist blogspot, I sent the following:

B”H
Dear Natan,

My latest questions that you have not answered are:

IB: 17.1 My insistence that you have to provide the source is based on common sense (whoever presents a piece of information, has the responsibility to give the complete and precise reference to it) and in what I wrote above on 7.1 IB

And specially now, when you are still refusing to give the page number on your book where the names of the two zoologists that said what you claim they said are written, seems to be another evasive strategy to cover YOUR lie.


IB: Do you agree or disagree with the following:
Whoever presents a piece of information has the responsibility to give the complete and precise reference to it.
If you disagree, please explain why.

IB 19.1 … If you think they are incompatible please explain why.

IB 20.1 ... Please tell me where you wrote in your book your definition of maale gera?

IB 21.1 Could you please give me your definition of “compatible”?


Are you planning to answer the unanswered questions?

The latter could be summarized in my posts dated:

February 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM (20.1 IB) 
February 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM
February 5, 2013 at 1:07 AM (first and second part) 
February 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM (first and second part)
February 11, 2013 at 8:27 PM
February 14, 2013 at 12:09 AM
February 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM
February 18, 2013 at 7:52 PM (first and second part)
March 3, 2013 at 8:36 PM (first and second part)
March 4, 2013 at 7:46 PM
March 4, 2013 at 8:39 PM
March 8, 2013 at 5:22 PM
March 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM
March 8, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Dear Natan:
Are you planning to answer all the unanswered questions?
More than two days after that, I did not receive any answer from Natan Slifkin, so it seems that he is not ready to provide answers to my challenges against the letter he sent Dialogue Magazine in response to my article on the Biblical shafan = rabbit.


2)
A few days ago, in response to one of NS’s comments, I wrote an answer that I am now expanding with additional bracketed recent developments:

IB:
13.1 There is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows, about thirty leading Great Talmidei Chachamim already signed letters disqualifying the religious contents of your books. 
On the other hand, meanwhile you have not published letters of support of leading Great Talmidei Chachamim.

Additionally, there is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows, you have publicly acknowledged that you do not believe in a basic Chapter of the written Torah, as you wrote:

“Sorry to shock you, but I don't believe in a global flood, either!...”
February 20, 2013 at 11:21 PM

[Additionally, there is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows, you have publicly shared your pictures eating locust which reveal your hallachic standards...]

[Additionally, there is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows you have not answered the following public challenge:

Anyhow, the entire conversation with xxx and Natan Slifkin is fruitless until we determine one fundamental point – do you believe that Torah study contributes to the security and the economic wellbeing of the Jewish people?
If your answer is no, I would like to know how you explain the Gemara in Sanhedrin which seems to declare you Apikorsim. We can then move forward.]

Now, I am operating in the framework of an academic approach because people probably do not know that even your publications in zoology-related-issues, are not easy to support in light of modern zoology (as written in the front cover of your hyrax book).

Incidentally, an additional facet is becoming public, that instead of intellectually defending your two books on the hyrax, and defending what you wrote in your recent letter to Dialogue Magazine, you are evading and making false accusations against an academic opponent.
3)
Recently, when NS’s locust-eating was publicly challenged, NS wrote the following:

... It's just a pity that almost every time I am attacked from the right, my opponents reveal themselves to be somewhat lacking in derech eretz (aside from lacking in knowledge).
lacking in derech eretz
If the reader is interested, he could check the lack of derech eretz of NS’s writings the same dates in his rationalist blogspot...

lacking in knowledge”
Let me present three examples of lacking in zoological knowledge by the “zoo-rabbi” as evident from NS’s letter to Dialogue magazine and the subsequent comments thread:

a)
NS wrote:
“But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby.”

IB:
This is not true.

b)
NS wrote:
“With the hare and rabbit, interpreting ma’aleh gerah as caecotrophy requires going against all classical interpretations of ma’aleh gerah.”

IB:
This is not true.

c)
NS wrote:
“Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...”

NS wrote:
“Well, you can find the names of two zoologists in my book, and I could add two or three others...”

IB published many days ago:
Please provide me the page number of your book where the zoologists have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication, and please add the two or three others that you are offering me.

IB:
NS is still refusing to give the page number on his book where the names of the two zoologists that said what he claims they said are written.
This seems to be another evasive strategy to cover NS’s lie.

PS
Nevertheless, I am still willing B”H to continue this interchange with Natan Slifkin (the author of the letter to Dialogue Magazine) immediately after he publishes the names of “the two zoologist appearing in his book” and answers the unanswered questions.

116 comments:

  1. If R. Slifkin refuses to engage with you further, is there any chance you'll simply post on this blog a point by point and comprehensive response to his letter to Dialogue? If so, when? If not, why not?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. B”H
      Dear Nachum,
      Sorry for the delay in answering.

      In my forthcoming book about the shafan, there is a chapter entitled:
      “WHY SOME SAID THE RABBIT CANNOT BE THE SHAFAN, AND OUR RESPONSE.”
      In that Chapter, seven questions on these issues are analyzed.

      I am still missing some important information that will help me to decide B”H if a point by point and comprehensive response to Natan Slifkin’s letter will be published here and/or elsewhere.
      Best regards.

      Delete
    2. I am still missing some important information that will help me to decide B”H if a point by point and comprehensive response to Natan Slifkin’s letter will be published here and/or elsewhere.

      I think the most important piece of information that you are missing is the answer.

      Anyhow, a point by point refutation is not needed. The only question you have to answer is how the rabbit matches the pesukim in Tanach better than the hyrax, given that the rabbit doesn't hide in rocks, live near the ibex, nor was it even around in biblical Israel.

      Delete
  2. As to why you get no response, I think this one sums it up:

    'IB 21.1 Could you please give me your definition of “compatible”?'

    It's self-evident that trying to answer this question is an exercise in futility.

    I would also point out that an inability to concisely summarize your main points and instead create a homework assignment with a list of "unanswered" questions points to a weakness in your argument, whatever it is. Something that is well understood can be described more concisely.

    I suggest that rather than listing question upon question with no end in sight, that you make an attempt to answer R. Slifkin's main argument: Rabbit doesn't fit the description of Shafan in Tanach very well while Hyrax fits perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. IB:
    NS is still refusing to give the page number on his book where the names of the two zoologists that said what he claims they said are written.
    This seems to be another evasive strategy to cover NS’s lie.


    Have you followed the reference and are you claiming that the book does not contain any such names? If not, on what do you base your assertion of a "lie"?

    ReplyDelete
  4. a)
    NS wrote:
    “But rabbits do not, and did not, live in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere nearby.”

    IB:
    This is not true.


    You are arguing with a strawman. NS corrected his slight mistatement on this weeks ago, immediately after you asked about it. For you to continue to quote his original statement is very misleading and distorts his position. It is true that there are some non-native rabbit transplanted to Egypt. They don't hide in rocks, they don't live in Israel and they were not around in Biblical times, so it doesn't bear any relevance to his letter.

    ReplyDelete
  5. NS wrote:
    “With the hare and rabbit, interpreting ma’aleh gerah as caecotrophy requires going against all classical interpretations of ma’aleh gerah.”

    IB:
    This is not true.


    That is an assertion and not an argument. Ma'aleh Gerah was always interpreted as Ruminant, which makes perfect sense, since all the kosher animals are ruminants and so is the Camel, and the Hare and Hyrax appear to be although they aren't.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anyhow, the entire conversation with xxx and Natan Slifkin is fruitless until we determine one fundamental point – do you believe that Torah study contributes to the security and the economic wellbeing of the Jewish people?
    If your answer is no, I would like to know how you explain the Gemara in Sanhedrin which seems to declare you Apikorsim. We can then move forward.]


    You are revealing the weakness of your argument here. It is much easier to brand someone an "Apikores" that to actually respond in substance to his argument. You have chosen the cheap and frankly dishonorable route consistent with the strength of your arguments.

    ReplyDelete
  7. [Additionally, there is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows, you have publicly shared your pictures eating locust which reveal your hallachic standards...]

    This is another ad hominem argument and it is also an exceedingly weak one. It is not lowering "standards" to each something that is muttar to eat, just because Dr. Betech doesn't agree. Especially the Svara to allow it is quite clear whether you happens to agree with it or not.

    ReplyDelete
  8. B”H
    Dear readers,
    A good friend yesterday asked me why I am not answering the comments David Ohsie has written here.

    First, a general answer:
    Please remember what I wrote originally as a post-script to this post, i.e.

    Nevertheless, I am still willing B”H to continue this interchange with Natan Slifkin (the author of the letter to Dialogue Magazine) immediately after he publishes the names of “the two zoologist appearing in his book” and answers the unanswered questions.

    As you probably know, Natan Slifkin until today refuses to name the two zoologists in the continued discussion in his blogspost.

    Second, a particular answer:
    If someone is interested on knowing David Ohise’s standards of debate, he can see the following example:
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/02/ruach-hakodesh-and-reason.html?commentPage=2
    March 20, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dr. Betech, I'm quite pleased with your response here. You are admitting that your arguments are so weak that responding would weaken them even further. Therefore you don't address any substance, but instead demand the answers to a never-ending list if "unanswered questions" irrelevant to the topic.

    I particularly enjoy your analysis by threat method where you accuse someone of lying unless they answer a question of yours as if answering the question has any relevance to the accusation.

    You finish off with another non-specific ad hominem attack, this time against a commenter. You are living up to your reputation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Since there is an accusation of a lie, I want to make it easy for readers to see that it is baseless and offensive.

    R. Slikin mentioned that in his book are observations by two zoologists in support of the possibility that Hyraxes practice merycism (regurgitating, re-chewing and re-swallowing of small amounts of food). Dr. Betech claimed he could find no such references and therefore R. Slifin is "lying". Here are quotes from the book making it clear who is reporting it correctly:

    #1: "I could clearly also observe [...] the sequence of regurgitation, chewing, and swallowing."

    #2:"even though the hyrax is primarily a hindgut fermenter, there might be a need for merycism to stimulate saliva flow."

    #3:"I cannot exclude that similar behavior [merycism] could occur in hyrax. It needs to be investigated very carefully..."

    #4:"I would occasionally [...] see them doing some brief chewing movements [...] it may be that they regurgitate and rechew a little bit of food.

    These are all in support of the modest and tentative conclusion:

    Thus, there is a distinct likelihood that the hyrax practices merycism, and is therefore described as bringing up the cud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. B”H
      Dear Natan,

      The falsehood of your original statement was almost evident since the first moment you wrote in the Dialogue article:
      “…Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication…”

      But, when you added in your blogspost (20 Feb 2013):
      “Well, you can find the names of two zoologists in my book, and I could add two or three others…”

      Whoever was interested in checking your book and reading it carefully was able to identify your explicit lie.
      Then, when you let David Ohsie to give infantile instructions to disclose the names of the two zoologists in question, you made yourself more vulnerable, since David confirmed that we were speaking about what is written in the second edition of your hyrax book, between pages 97 to 101.

      Then, you even let David to confirm that we are speaking about the following seven:
      1.- Hendrick Hoeck.
      2.- Dr. Aharon Meltzer and Levnah
      3.- Hubert Hendrichs.
      4.- James Bruce.
      5.- J.B. Sale.
      6.- Ian Hume.
      7.- Christine Janis.

      Of the above seven, five did not state in your book that hyrax practices any kind of regurgitation.
      So, obviously your “two zoologists” must be Hubert Hendrichs and James Bruce.

      Hubert Hendrichs is irrelevant; since based on modern-day-zoologists, you repeatedly questioned in your book the validity of his 47-years-old alleged observation.

      Then, your second “zoologist” must be James Bruce, a TRAVELING LAWYER who wrote 245 years ago that the hyrax is ruminant…

      This is a dishonorable statement. James Bruce can not be your second zoologist since he was not a zoologist.

      By the way, in your recent post about the mouse deer you wrote:
      “I don't understand why someone would quote a non-expert on such a thing.”
      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/03/mouse-deer-tries-to-attack-hare-hyrax.html

      Are Hendrichs and Bruce statements in “light of modern zoology” as you wrote in the front-cover of your hyrax book?

      Are these the zoological standards of the rationalist “zoo-rabbi”?

      If my guess that your second zoologist is James Bruce is wrong, please publish here the name of the second zoologist and I will retract my accusation that you lied in your blogspost.

      P.S. The only answer that could shed light on this obscure issue is publishing clearly the names of the two zoologists in question.
      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.

      No more excuses please, just two names and page number in the hyrax book.

      Delete
    2. This is an excellent reply Dr. Betech, because it demonstrates clearly the falsehood of your accusation. You did in fact find at least some of the references that R. Slifkin pointed out, but disagree that Bruce should be considered a zoologist. So an honest person would say:

      "I found your two references and I don't think that they are strong. Bruce was not a professional zoologist and Hendrichs was disputed by Hoeck."

      Instead you say: "I couldn't find any references; you are lying".

      I would add two things:

      1) My four references don't include Bruce. So you missed some in your "careful" reading. Two of them reference direct observation.

      2) Hoeck disputes Hendrich's claim to hyrax rumination, but admits that merycism may be possible, so Hendrich's observations are relevant, even if his interpretation is incorrect.

      Anyhow, your response is an admission that R. Slifkin was truthful and that you did not read carefully or were not being straightforward.

      Delete
    3. B"H

      The only answer that could shed light on this obscure issue is publishing clearly the names of the two zoologists in question.

      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.

      No more excuses please, just two names and page number in the hyrax book.

      Delete
    4. No more excuses, Dr. Betech. There is nothing obscure here. I've give explicit references quoted from the book, any reader can see. Please retract your accusations.

      Delete
    5. The only answer that could shed light on this obscure issue

      I also would point out that you again admit that your accusation of lying is unfounded. If the point is "obscure" (it isn't), then you have no basis for your accusation. Only a clear obvious misstatement with no chance of error could be termed a "lie".

      Delete
    6. B"H

      Just two names and page number in the hyrax book.

      Delete
    7. Just two names and page number in the hyrax book.

      I have given sufficient evidence from the book and from your own statements to show that your accusation is baseless and internally contradictory.

      If you think that some names and page numbers from the book are relevant to your substantiating your case, then you are free to publish them yourself. My failure to substantiate your argument is not evidence in your favor.

      Please make your case, or retract your allegation.

      Delete
    8. B"H
      No more excuses please, just two names and page number in the hyrax book.

      Delete
    9. No more excuses please, Dr. Betech. Back up your accusation or retract it. Given that you've admitted twice already that R. Slifkin was not lying, and that you have no way to explain how you missed the references from the book that I posted, I suggest that you choose to retract.

      There is nothing dishonorable in a retraction. We all make mistakes. It's best not to double down on them.

      Delete
    10. B"H

      The only answer that could shed light on this obscure issue is publishing clearly the names of the two zoologists in question.

      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.

      No more excuses please, just two names and page number in the hyrax book.

      Delete
    11. DR Betech,Because English is only your third language, you clearly seem to be lacking basic English comprehension skills, I think it would be wise for you to discuss your ideas with R Coffer in Hebrew, and let him post for you. Your accusations and posts do not make any sense to the readers of this blog. Hopefully if R Coffer writes your ideas for you, they would be more reasonable.

      Delete
    12. B"H

      The only answer that could shed light on this obscure issue is publishing clearly the names of the two zoologists in question.

      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.

      No more excuses please, just two names and page number in the hyrax book.


      Dr. Betech, you are repeating yourself. Once again:

      1) If the issue is obscure to you, then no accusation of lying is acceptable; that requires clear proof. This is admission #1 on your part that your charge has no basis.

      2) At March 21, 2013 at 12:46 PM, you admitted to finding the references (although you missed at least one). You then argued that the references were not compelling to you. So again, you admit clearly that your accusation has no basis.

      3) When you accuse someone of lying, it is up to you to prove your charge. You have no standing to demand additional information "or else" your opponent is deemed a "liar". You charge should stand on its own.

      4) In my comment above at March 21, 2013 at 12:08 PM, I gave 4 direct quotations from the book, 3 of which you seem to have missed, but since this upsets your narrative, you need to continue to ignore them and demand more references :).

      For your convenience and that of any readers, I repeat them here:

      #1: "I could clearly also observe [...] the sequence of regurgitation, chewing, and swallowing."

      #2:"even though the hyrax is primarily a hindgut fermenter, there might be a need for merycism to stimulate saliva flow."

      #3:"I cannot exclude that similar behavior [merycism] could occur in hyrax. It needs to be investigated very carefully..."

      #4:"I would occasionally [...] see them doing some brief chewing movements [...] it may be that they regurgitate and rechew a little bit of food.

      These are all in support of the modest and tentative conclusion:

      Thus, there is a distinct likelihood that the hyrax practices merycism, and is therefore described as bringing up the cud.

      Delete
    13. B"H
      "I gave 4 direct quotations from the book"

      IB
      There is no need to give 4 direct quotations, only give the name of the two zoologists in question.

      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.

      Delete
    14. B"H
      "I gave 4 direct quotations from the book"

      IB
      There is no need to give 4 direct quotations, only give the name of the two zoologists in question.

      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.


      Once again, you mistake your position. You have accused someone of "lying", therefore you must supply the evidence. And explain your two prior explicit admissions of error in your accusation and how you missed clear and explicit statements in the book.

      Since you have no explanation for any of that, you give no answer, but simply repeat yourself and compound the error.

      Delete
    15. B"H

      NS wrote:
      “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...”

      NS wrote:
      “Well, you can find the names of two zoologists in my book, and I could add two or three others...”

      IB:
      I looked in his book and could not find the names of the TWO zoologists in question.

      Please provide me the page number of your book where the zoologists have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication.

      The latter may be done by Natan Slifkin himself or any reader.

      Delete
    16. IB:
      I looked in his book and could not find the names of the TWO zoologists in question


      Yes, you did, but you quibbled on the credentials of one. Also, your presentation is again deceiving. If you wanted the truth you would say: "I found two, but one of the two was a traveler and I would not count as a professional zoologist, although R. Slifkin may have done so. So I see there was no lie and I retract my accusation."

      You are also ignoring again the other references which include other zoologists.

      Delete
    17. B”H

      I am not ignoring the other references because they did NOT state that they have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication, so they are irrelevant to our question.

      Regarding the “two”:

      Hubert Hendrichs is irrelevant; since based on modern-day-zoologists, Natan Slifkin repeatedly questioned in his book the validity of his 47-years-old alleged observation.

      Then, the second “zoologist” James Bruce, a TRAVELING LAWYER who wrote 245 years ago that the hyrax is ruminant…

      James Bruce can not be Natan Slifkin´s book second zoologist since James Bruce was not a zoologist.

      By the way, in your recent post about the mouse deer you wrote:

      “I don't understand why someone would quote a non-expert on such a thing.”
      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/03/mouse-deer-tries-to-attack-hare-hyrax.html

      Are Hendrichs and Bruce statements in “light of modern zoology” as you wrote in the front-cover of your hyrax book?

      Are these the zoological standards of the rationalist “zoo-rabbi”?

      Delete
    18. You are repeating yourself. You found at least 2 references which you have quibbles with, so there is no "lie". Now can you retract?

      Delete
    19. There is nothing that I can do other than juxtapose your claim against the evidence:

      I am not ignoring the other references because they did NOT state that they have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication, so they are irrelevant to our question.

      #1: "I could clearly also observe [...] the sequence of regurgitation, chewing, and swallowing."

      #2:"even though the hyrax is primarily a hindgut fermenter, there might be a need for merycism to stimulate saliva flow."

      #3:"I cannot exclude that similar behavior [merycism] could occur in hyrax. It needs to be investigated very carefully..."

      #4:"I would occasionally [...] see them doing some brief chewing movements [...] it may be that they regurgitate and rechew a little bit of food.

      These are all in support of the modest and tentative conclusion:

      Thus, there is a distinct likelihood that the hyrax practices merycism, and is therefore described as bringing up the cud.

      Delete
    20. B"H

      You wrote:
      You found at least 2 references which you have quibbles with, so there is no "lie". Now can you retract?

      IB:
      There are not TWO zoologists!
      There is a lie.

      Delete
    21. B"H

      You wrote:
      There is nothing that I can do other than juxtapose your claim against the evidence

      IB:
      There are NOT TWO zoologists that state that they have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication.

      Delete
    22. David Ohsie,

      Shalom Aleichem! Welcome to our blog and thank you for writing.

      The tirdos of parnasa have kept me occupied of late. Consequently I haven’t had the time to follow developments on the blog. However, someone forwarded to me a comment by Danny which then impelled me to review your dialogue with Dr. Betech. You wrote:

      You are repeating yourself. You found at least 2 references which you have quibbles with, so there is no "lie". Now can you retract?

      I’ve reviewed your interchange with R’ Isaac. I have no desire (nor time) to insinuate myself into the fray but I think you need to understand a few things about R’ Isaac which, I believe, might shed some light on your current dialogue with the good doctor.

      Dr. Betech possesses an extensive background in academia. And while he is a Medical Doctor by profession, he has taken to the study of lagomorphs in a most intense fashion. I haven’t spoken to him about this but from what I have gleaned from another one of my colleagues, he has been studying rabbits for 20 years! Currently Dr. Betech is in the process of releasing his findings on this topic in a soon-to-be-published book. His presentation is exhaustive and he takes great pains to document all of his statements in the published scientific literature.

      Dr. Betech feels that from a scientific perspective the Shafan cannot be the Hyrax. One of his primary arguments in favor of the Rabbit over the Hyrax is that it practices a form of reingestion (caecotrophy) whereas the Hyrax does not. This makes the rabbit consistent with the Torah’s category of ma’aleh geira while simultaneously eliminating the Hyrax as a contender.

      ‘Dialogue’ is an Orthodox (right) publication. When Rabbi Slifkin writes there that

      “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...”

      and then reinforces his claim by writing that

      “Well, you can find the names of two zoologists in my book, and I could add two or three others...”

      Dr. Betech takes this very seriously. If Rabbi Slifkin is right and he can indeed produce 4 or 5 professional zoologists in the published scientific literature who assert that the Hyrax practices a form of reingestion, this would obviously pose a serious problem to one of Dr. Betech’s primary arguments in favor of the Rabbit. On the other hand, if it turns out that Rabbi Slifkin’s claim is not, shall we say, entirely on the up and up, this could be very irksome to Dr. Betech. The truth is, Bruce is not a zoologist and Hendrichs is irrelevant on Rabbi Slifkin’s own admission. The problem is, most of the readers of ‘Dialogue’ do not know this. They are thus left with the impression that Rabbi Slifkin has adequately defended his position against Dr. Betech’s scientific argument from non-rumination in the Hyrax and this, to Dr. Betech, is a misrepresentation of the facts, or as he terms it, a lie.

      As I mentioned at the beginning of my comment, I am not interested in becoming involved in this debate. Your limud zchus for Rabbi Slifkin (2 zoologists = Bruce/Hendrichs) may very well be valid and Rabbi Slifkin perhaps did not mean to misrepresent the facts. Nonetheless I have chosen to write the above in order to put Rav Isaac’s allegation of prevarication in the proper context. I hope you can at least see that Dr. Betech’s objection is not merely a “quibble”. He takes any claim re Lagomorpha (and Hyracoidea) very seriously.

      Rav Isaac: Shalom u’vracha chaveiri ve’yididi! I did not consult you before writing this comment so please let me know if I have misrepresented your position in any way.

      Shabbat Shalom u’mvorach to all!

      Delete
    23. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    24. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    25. My deleted comment was the same as my posted comment modulo some spelling errors that I corrected.

      Delete
    26. R. Coffer, I appreciate your attempt to be melamed z'chus on Dr. Betech, and I can perhaps understand him a little better now. I can fully understand that when someone is heavily invested in a thesis through 20 years of work, that they will act in a not entirely rational manner in defending their thesis when it is shown to be mistaken. Not everyone can act like Frege, who responded to Russell's paradox with the following : "Hardly anything more unfortunate can befall a scientific writer than to have one of the foundations of his edifice shaken after the work is finished. This was the position I was placed in by a letter of Mr Bertrand Russell, just when the printing of this volume was nearing its completion."

      That said, it should be made clear that while I do not attempt pass judgement on Dr. Betech personally, I do judge his continued use of ad hominem arguments and evasive tactics as very convincing proof of the emptiness of his arguments. So while I can to some degree accept your defense of Dr. Betech as a person, his argument obviously cannot be rehabilitated by your testimony of his passion for his thesis.

      Finally, I will take issue with a few of the assertions in your comment.

      [Dr. Betech] has taken to the study of lagomorphs in a most intense fashion.

      Frankly, I would question Dr. Betech's expertise here. He was unaware that only hares and not rabbits live and have lived in Israel, in part because he took at face value some papers that mistakenly transposed rabbits for hares when (mis)quoting their sources. It was R. Slifkin's more detailed understanding that allowed him to catch these mistakes in the papers quoted by Dr. Betech. Dr. Betech tried to rehabilitate his argument in part by observing that rabbits live in pet stores across Israel (?!). If Dr. Betech has been studying the area for 20 years, then I can only say that it is not practice that makes perfect, but "perfect practice" that makes perfect.

      The truth is, Bruce is not a zoologist and Hendrichs is irrelevant on Rabbi Slifkin’s own admission.

      I'm not sure whether you are simply quoting Dr. Betech or making your own argument, but these statements are not true, and if even they were true, do not support Dr. Betech's false and unsupported accusations. Since you've asserted that you don't want to argue the point, I won't delve further, but the readers can see above for the excerpts from R. Slifkin's book that by themselves show plainly that R. Slifkin's characterization of what he wrote in his own book is 100% accurate, as you might expect.

      Your limud zchus for Rabbi Slifkin (2 zoologists = Bruce/Hendrichs) may very well be valid and Rabbi Slifkin perhaps did not mean to misrepresent the facts..

      I did not assert that the 2 zoologists = Bruce/Hendrichs, although that if that is all R. Slifkin had in the book, then he his statement would not be a misrepresentation in the slightest, and thus no recourse to limud z'chus or intention would be necessary.

      If Rabbi Slifkin is right and he can indeed produce 4 or 5 professional zoologists in the published scientific literature who assert that the Hyrax practices a form of reingestion, this would obviously pose a serious problem to one of Dr. Betech’s primary arguments in favor of the Rabbit.

      This is not a particularly accurate summary. The main argument against the rabbit is that there were and are no rabbits in Israel (pet stores notwithstanding) and that the Pesukim in Tanach describing the shafan do not match the rabbit at all and do match the hyrax 100%. The argument about whether R. Slifkin accurately characterized what he wrote in his own book, besides being a false accusation, is simply a diversionary tactic by Dr. Betech, perhaps explained by his overinvestment in his thesis. And even if the Hyrax could somehow be shown to be an untenable explanation for shafan (and it can't be), then the Rabbit still doesn't fit.

      Delete
    27. B"H

      You wrote:
      There is nothing that I can do other than juxtapose your claim against the evidence

      IB:
      There are NOT TWO zoologists that state that they have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication.


      Ummm... You responded to my sentence of introduction with a repetition of your bald unsupported assertion. Care to address the actual argument? Based on everything I've seen so far, I assume that the answer is that you will address it as soon as all the unanswered questions are answered.

      The problem I see is that until Mashiach arrives, we'll have an unanswered question as to when he will arrive, and once he does, then he can settle the shafan argument without our blog posts. Puts us in kind of a tough situation, I suppose.

      Delete
    28. B”H

      Only one that has not followed the comment threads in the rationalist blogspost and here, can be mislead by the distortions, evasiveness and cynicism of these responses.

      Since you seem convinced that your arguments are so strong, share them with Natan Slifkin, if he publicly endorses them, I am ready to answer them B"H one by one.

      If someone forgot why I do not consider an honorable task to discuss directly with David Ohsie, please see what he wrote on:

      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/02/ruach-hakodesh-and-reason.html?commentPage=2
      March 20, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      Delete
    29. Only one that has not followed the comment threads in the rationalist blogspost and here, can be mislead by the distortions, evasiveness and cynicism of these responses.

      If someone forgot why I do not consider an honorable task to discuss directly with David Ohsie


      Pot, meet kettle:


      IB 21.1 Could you please give me your definition of “compatible”?

      Additionally, there is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows, you have publicly shared your pictures eating locust which reveal your hallachic standards...

      I would like to know how you explain the Gemara in Sanhedrin which seems to declare you Apikorsim. We can then move forward.

      2.1 In modern Yisrael there are rabbits, if you want, check in pet-stores or in the private houses of rabbit-lovers.

      Even the syntax in Rashi’s description (“maala umekia”) is compatible also with caecotrophy, since in rabbits, the partially fermented food of the cecum “ascends” through the ascending colon, then it is excreted from their inners.




      Delete
    30. David Ohsie,

      In my last comment I stated that “I have no desire (nor time) to insinuate myself into the fray” and I meant it, at least at the time. But things change. I still do not have time. But I am beginning to develop a bit more desire. I have not investigated the sugya of Shafan anywhere near the level of Dr. Betech and from the few comments I’ve seen you make in this post you seem quite knowledgeable about the sugya yourself. However, after some coaxing by a colleague of mine I have decided to immerse myself in this sugya.

      So, Dr. Betech says the Shafan is a rabbit. R’ David Ohsie, invoking Rabbi Slifkin’s approach, is convinced it is a hyrax. Me? I’m looking to see whose arguments are more compelling. Let’s see where the chips fall.

      R. Coffer, I appreciate your attempt to be melamed z'chus on Dr. Betech, and I can perhaps understand him a little better now. I can fully understand that when someone is heavily invested in a thesis through 20 years of work, that they will act in a not entirely rational manner in defending their thesis when it is shown to be mistaken… So while I can to some degree accept your defense of Dr. Betech as a person, his argument obviously cannot be rehabilitated by your testimony of his passion for his thesis.

      I’m sorry David but you are clearly mischaracterizing my words. I was not defending Dr. Betech as a person. I was providing a valid justification for his allegation of prevarication against Rabbi Slifkin.

      Imagine you spent several days preparing a shiur, studied all the sources, cross-referenced all the gemaros, and began delivering your shiur in public only to be challenged by a member in the audience who attempted to undermine your chiddushim by quote-mining several Rishonim out of context. Wouldn’t you be upset? Wouldn’t you challenge you protagonist to clearly produce the quotes in question so they could be verified and analyzed? Wouldn’t you begin to suspect “mischaracterization” (advertent or inadvertent) after repeatedly requesting precise mareh mikomos without response?

      In my opinion, Dr. Betech did not act irrationally. He acted normally. The only ta’anah you might have is that perhaps Rav Isaac shouldn’t have used the “L” word but you already accepted my “limud zchus” of Dr. Betech as a person so there’s nothing left to talk about here, right? Let’s just move on to the substantive issues.

      Continued…

      Delete
    31. Finally, I will take issue with a few of the assertions in your comment.

      [Dr. Betech] has taken to the study of lagomorphs in a most intense fashion.

      Frankly, I would question Dr. Betech's expertise here.

      This is precisely what I was not interested in getting involved in.

      He was unaware that only hares and not rabbits live and have lived in Israel,

      Unaware? I’m confused. Isn’t this the very point of contention between Dr. Betech and Rabbi Slifkin? Whether rabbits did indeed live in Israel of the past?

      Continued…

      Delete
    32. I wrote: “The truth is, Bruce is not a zoologist and Hendrichs is irrelevant on Rabbi Slifkin’s own admission.”

      I'm not sure whether you are simply quoting Dr. Betech

      Yes, I was. I have no reason to doubt Dr. Betech. However, now that you and I are communicating directly I pulled out Rabbi Slifkin’s book and looked it up myself. Re Bruce, here’s what Rabbi Slifkin writes: (my highlights)

      “The researcher referred to is the zoologist Dr. Hubert Hendrichs, who also cites the 18th centurty traveler James Bruce.” (The Camel, the Hare, and the Hyrax, Zoo Torah, pg. 97)

      So unless you are doubting both Dr. Betech and Rabbi Slifkin, it seems clear that Dr. Betech’s assertion that Bruce is not a zoologist is on the up and up. That’s one zoologist down. Let’s move on to #2.

      Continued…

      Delete
    33. Here are some comments/quotes by Rabbi Slifkin in the aforementioned book re Hendrichs. (my highlights)

      “But a contrasting view (to the non-rumination of the Hyrax) is presented in a study of hyraxes by Dr. Aharon Meltzer and Michah Levnah, although these authors note that it is of doubtful credibility (ibid.)

      The “contrasting view” of “doubtful credibility” is that of Dr. Hendrichs, as Rabbi Slifkin mentions in the very next sentence ad. loc.

      On page 99, Rabbi Slifkin quotes J. B. Sale as follows: (my highlights)

      “Newly-captured and nervous animals frequently show it (chewing motions) when being observed by humans…this motion reminds one forcibly of a ruminant and is probably responsible for the statement by some observers that hyrax chews the cud (Bruce, 1790)… Hendrichs 1963 claims to have observed rumination in P. capensis in captivity in Europe. He informs me that the animals chewed the cud for ½ hour (in 24 hr) when fed on dried grass (?hay). Until more details of these observations are available it is unwise to comment but my own view is… hyrax…do not regurgitate material from the stomach for further mastication.” (J. B. Sale, Daily food consumption and mode of ingestion in the hyrax, Journal of the East African Natural History Society (1966) 25 pp. 215-224)

      Sale doesn’t sound very enthusiastic about Hendrich’s observations, does he?

      In the following paragraph, Rabbi Slifkin quotes yet another zoologist who questions the implications of Hendrich’s observations, one Dr. Hendrik Hoeck. Rabbi Slifkin writes:

      “Dr. Hendrik Hoeck, author of the statement in The Encyclopedia of Mammals that hyraxes do not ruminate, likewise claims that Hendrich’s conclusion was mistaken.” (ibid.) Rabbi Slifkin then goes on to quote Hoeck to this effect.

      So, upon reviewing the material in Rabbi Slifkin’s book, I am inclined to accept Dr. Betech’s assessment that “Hubert Hendrichs is irrelevant; since based on modern-day-zoologists, (Rabbi Slifkin) repeatedly question(s) in (his) book the validity of this 47-years-old alleged observation.”

      Continued…

      Delete
    34. By the way, I can’t resist mentioning the following. Rabbi Slifkin and I used to argue a lot in the past so I am very familiar with his MO and one thing I can say about his books; his presentation of the scientific facts is beyond reproach! The above quotes are a case in point. Although Rabbi Slifkin identifies the Shafan as the hyrax, this does not get in the way of a truthful presentation of the relevant scientific material. I actually like his books for this reason although I strongly disagree with most of the personal conclusions he draws based on the facts.

      or making your own argument, but these statements are not true,

      Well, in view of my presentation above, I would have to disagree.

      and if even they were true, do not support Dr. Betech's false and unsupported accusations.

      I’m not sure what “false and unsupported accusations” you are referring to. If Bruce is not a zoologist and Hendrichs is irrelevant, this justifies, at least technically, Rav Isaacs’s accusation (singular) of prevarication.

      Since you've asserted that you don't want to argue the point, I won't delve further,

      I changed my mind. I now do want to argue the point. Let’s delve further…

      but the readers can see above for the excerpts from R. Slifkin's book that by themselves show plainly that R. Slifkin's characterization of what he wrote in his own book is 100% accurate, as you might expect.

      Don’t be so hasty to speak on behalf of our readers. I too am a reader of this blog (in addition to a contributor) and I do not see how your excerpts from Rabbi Slifkin’s book “show plainly that R. Slifkin's characterization of what he wrote in his own book is 100% accurate”.

      Continued…

      Delete
    35. I haven’t been following this thread for very long (not here , nor on Rationalist) but I spent some time last night and today investigating the relevant comment threads and it seems that Dr. Betech has been requesting the names of the zoologists – and the page numbers in Rabbi Slifkin’s book that their statements appear – for quite some time. And as far as I can see he still hasn’t received a reply. Actually I ran a Google search and discovered that essentially Dr. Betech has been requesting this information from Rabbi Slifkin for close to two years! (See the comment interchange in Josh Waxman’s blog, August 28, 2011.)

      Eventually Dr. Betech became fed up and dropped a comment to the effect that Rabbi Slifkin’s assertion was not true (yes, I know, he said “lie” (gasp!); let’s get over it!)

      You, David, claimed that Dr. Betech’s accusation was “baseless and offensive” and supported your assertion by delineating four quotes in Rabbi Slifkin’s book which you feel supports Rabbi Slifkin’s claim. Here they are, one by one, with my kindly remarks inserted after each one.

      Continued…

      Delete
    36. #1: "I could clearly also observe [...] the sequence of regurgitation, chewing, and swallowing."

      This statement was made by Hendrichs. Dr. Betech already explained that even Rabbi Slifkin admits that Hendrichs’ observations/conclusions are not considered reliable by the consensus of modern zoological opinion.

      #2:"even though the hyrax is primarily a hindgut fermenter, there might be a need for merycism to stimulate saliva flow."

      This quote appears at the top of page 101 (in RNS’s book) by Professor Ian Hume and is entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand. Hume says nothing about having “observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...”

      #3:"I cannot exclude that similar behavior [merycism] could occur in hyrax. It needs to be investigated very carefully..."

      This statement was made by Hoeck (ibid.) and as with the previous comment is entirely irrelevant. Hoeck says nothing about having “observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...”

      #4:"I would occasionally [...] see them doing some brief chewing movements [...] it may be that they regurgitate and rechew a little bit of food.

      This statement was made by Christine Janis (ibid.) and once again is entirely irrelevant to our sugya. Janis says nothing about having “observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...”

      Quote #1 is considered unreliable by mainstream zoology and quotes 2, 3, and 4 are merely speculations, not observations.

      You know what’s funny? I just spent a whole page refuting your sources when Isaac already did the same job in one simple sentence. In response to your accusation (April 2) that Isaac was ignoring these 4 references which include other zoologists, Isaac responded with one simple and direct answer which encapsulates everything I just spent ten minutes writing! He wrote: “I am not ignoring the other references because they did NOT state that they have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication, so they are irrelevant to our question.”

      Continued…

      Delete
    37. These are all in support of the modest and tentative conclusion:

      Tentative? What are you talking about? Rabbi Slifkin wrote that there were two zoologists in his book who observed regurgitation and re-mastication in hyraxes and he could supply another two or three. There’s nothing “tentative” about that statement. Dr. Betech took umbrage with this, rightfully so. Look David; if you personally wish to believe that the speculative musings of the scientists in your last three quotes results in the “distinct likelihood” that the hyrax practices merycism, so be it. But this is not our topic. Dr. Betech is looking for sources in the zoological literature which support Rabbi Slifkin’s contention; not your “modest” conclusions.

      BTY, now that I’ve wrapped up my response to your comments, I want to mention that I understand that in the heat of discussion (or letters to Dialogue) people sometimes overstate their points. I am not trying to knock Rabbi Slifkin for misstating his argument in Dialogue. All I’m trying to do is provide you (and the readers of this blog) with the rationale behind R’ Isaac’s arguments. For better or for worse, I believe I’ve succeeded. If you disagree I’m sure you’ll let me know…

      Continued…

      Delete
    38. I did not assert that the 2 zoologists = Bruce/Hendrichs, although that if that is all R. Slifkin had in the book, then he his statement would not be a misrepresentation in the slightest, and thus no recourse to limud z'chus or intention would be necessary.

      I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      I wrote: If Rabbi Slifkin is right and he can indeed produce 4 or 5 professional zoologists in the published scientific literature who assert that the Hyrax practices a form of reingestion, this would obviously pose a serious problem to one of Dr. Betech’s primary arguments in favor of the Rabbit.

      This is not a particularly accurate summary.

      Yup. That’s because it’s not a summary; it’s an observation. I was trying to explain to you why Dr. Betech takes exception to RNS’s claim in Dialogue.

      The main argument against the rabbit etc.

      Sorry David but this is not our topic and I’m all argued out now. If you want to discuss arguments against the rabbit, do it with RIB. He knows a lot more about the sugya than I do.

      The argument about whether R. Slifkin accurately characterized what he wrote in his own book, besides being a false accusation, is simply a diversionary tactic by Dr. Betech,

      Hmm… look who’s appealing to ad hominem argumentation now…

      Besides, even if you’re right, who cares? Simcha Coffer and David Oshie are discussing a very specific topic; are there zoologists who have observed regurgitation and re-mastication in the hyrax, or are their not zoologists who have observed such a thing. Let’s try and keep our eye on the ball and not fall prey to “diversionary tactics”…

      Be Well,

      Simcha Coffer

      P.S. To our readers: As in my initial comment, I have not spoken to or consulted with Dr. Betech regarding any of the material herein. I think I’ve done a decent job explaining his position but I don’t know for sure. Accordingly, he is free to repudiate (or correct) any of the material I’ve submitted.

      Delete
    39. So, Dr. Betech says the Shafan is a rabbit. R’ David Ohsie, invoking Rabbi Slifkin’s approach, is convinced it is a hyrax. Me? I’m looking to see whose arguments are more compelling. Let’s see where the chips fall.

      R. Coffer, while I'm 100% willing to engage you in discussion on all your arguments, I'd like to avoid arguing with straw men or hashing over irrelevant points that have already been overhashed. Could you succinctly describe exactly what it is that you are arguing for (or against) and what your evidence is? I will do the same. Then we can have what is hopefully an enlightening discussion.

      1) Are you arguing that you believe that R. Slifkin lied about something in the debate? If so, could you quote the lie, then give your evidence that it is a lie and then explain how it is important to the debate (if it is)? For example, you could say something like "R. Slifkin says in his letter to Dialogue that his book proves that rabbits are red. In fact, source 1 in his book says that they are pink and the other sources say that they are green; he knowingly misleads us to believe they are red. This is important because we know that Shafan can only refer to a non-scarlet animal, as R. Slifkin admits in book 'Roses are Red, but the Shafan is not'. Thus, R. Slifkin lies to make it appear that Shafan cannot be a Rabbit when the opposite is true".

      2) If not, are you arguing that Shafan = rabbit or that Shafan != hyrax? If so, can you summarize your argument.

      To both show good faith and advance the discussion, I will do likewise in the next post. This will ground our discussion.

      Delete
    40. Here is a summary of my understanding of the debate as played out in R. Slifkin's blog and this one:

      1) R. Slifkin points out a number of flaws in the Dialogue article. The most important, and the one that is most debated here, is that the Shafan is described in the Pesukim in Tanach as an animal that hides in rocks. It is also described in the same pasuk as one describing the Ibex as taking refuge on high hills.

      This evidence presents a number of large problems for the rabbit hypothesis:

      a) There is no evidence that rabbits have ever lived in Israel. Specifically, "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region." http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_2000_num_26_1_4701. Thus, it is unlikely that pesukim in Tanach are describing a rabbit which would have been unknown to the readers. The Torah is also unlikely to refer to the rabbit, but the Nach pesukim would be completely unintelligible.

      b) Rabbits don't hide in rocks; they burrow in the ground. There is a species of rabbits that hide in rocks, but they live only in southern Africa.

      c) In Israel, there is actually a small animal that hides in rocks and it lives in the same location as the Ibex that take refuges on hills: it is the hyrax and it is called something similar to Shafan in the local languages.

      Thus, the rabbit doesn't match the Shafan as described in Tanach.

      2) Dr. Betech tried to parry this by asserting that in fact Rabbits did live in Israel, but died out at some point. Unfortunately for his argument, he seemed to be unaware of Tchernov's statement above, and he also was fooled (as I would also certainly have been as a non-expert) by a number of sources that mention rabbits as game, but turn out to be based on sources that really mention hares, not rabbits. In any case, the types of rabbits that Dr. Betech argues for don't hide in rocks, so his argument is in any case a red herring. He finally fell back to arguing that rabbits live in pet stores in Israel (I'm forced to remind the reader that this is not an exaggeration; he really said this).

      2) Dr. Betech also responded with another line of attack in his own blog post, which I personally consider shameful, but I admit that YMMV:

      a) R. Slifkin is a Apikores.

      b) R. Slifkin doesn't follow Halacha because he ate locusts permitted by a Sephardi tradition.

      c) R. Slifkin is a liar on various shifting and self-contradictory grounds that have yet to be elucidated clearly. First because R. Slifkin mentioned two sources in his book supporting his conclusion that Hyraxes may practice Merycism, which Dr. Betech could not find. Then he stated that he could find the sources, but he did not agree on classifying one as zoologist and because the other was declared "irrelevant", although sometimes Dr. Betech emphasized the word "TWO" as though he seemed to admit that he could find one source.

      Dr. Betech never explains why R. Slifkin would bizzarely intentionally misquote his own argument from his own book, nor how this any impact on the meaning of Shafan or on R. Slifkins argument which concludes as: "Thus, there is a distinct likelihood that the hyrax practices merycism, and is therefore described as bringing up the cud." and "If the hyrax does not practice merycism—and perhaps even if it does—
      it would seem that there is different and superior way to approach the entire topic." Thus even if Dr. Betech could prove that the hyrax does not practice merycism against the experts who are unsure, the argument for hyrax doesn't dissipate, nor does the argument for rabbit become feasible again.

      Delete
    41. B"H

      You wrote:
      a) There is no evidence that rabbits have ever lived in Israel. Specifically, "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region." http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_2000_num_26_1_4701.

      IB:
      In the above mentioned article, in which page they explain which measurements or method they used to distinguish between rabbit´s and hare´s fossils?

      Delete
    42. R. Coffer, I don't mean to make demands of you, but it would also help if you could very briefly identify your position on the following:

      Having read the hyrax chapter for R. Slifkin's book, which of the following best describes your understanding?

      1) Hyraxes definitely practice merycism.
      2) Hyraxes make chewing motions during non-eating periods and experts aren't sure whether or not this is merycism.
      3) Hyraxes definitely don't practice merycism.

      Again, I'm not trying to give a homework assignment; I'm just trying to understand clearly where you are arguing for so that we can discuss this fruitfully rather than talking past each other, especially given the time constraints.

      Delete
    43. You wrote:
      a) There is no evidence that rabbits have ever lived in Israel. Specifically, "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region." http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_2000_num_26_1_4701.

      IB:
      In the above mentioned article, in which page they explain which measurements or method they used to distinguish between rabbit´s and hare´s fossils?


      Dr. Betech, is this a rhetorical question or are you truly having trouble reading and understanding the paper?

      If this is rhetorical, I'm not sure what you are getting at. Please elucidate. If it makes it easier, assume that I will grant you arguendo your first 2 or 3 steps in your argument.

      If you are really needing help to understand the paper, I'm not the one to help you as I have not been studying lagomorphs for 20 years or even 1 day. I'm sure that your many contacts in the field can be of much more help than I can.

      Delete
    44. B”H

      According to my approach, my hypothesis that the Biblical shafan is the common rabbit does not depend on archeological evidences of rabbits in Eretz Yisrael.
      On the other hand, you tried to refute -or at least weaken- my rabbit identification with the quotation "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region."
      I read the article you cited and I could not find a description of which measurements or method they used to distinguish between rabbit’s and hare’s fossils.
      As you know, rabbits and hares have similar skeletons, so if you want to use against my hypothesis the findings of the article you cited, you have to be able to proof that the lagomorph fossils they found are indeed hare’s fossils and not rabbit’s.
      Hamotsi mechavero, alav hareaya.

      Delete
    45. According to my approach, my hypothesis that the Biblical shafan is the common rabbit does not depend on archeological evidences of rabbits in Eretz Yisrael.

      So it seems that you have no answer for the questions posed by R. Slifkin. You simply choose to claim that your hypothesis is immune any counter-arguments with no explanation. If you are going to take this approach, you can claim Shafan is pretty much anything, such as a llama. I'm also not sure why you would bother to engage in any discussion since your hypothesis is immune from any discussion by fiat. It is something like a Halacha L'Betech MiSinai. If your preferred choice doesn't fit in to the pesukim, no problem, your hypothesis doesn't depend on this.

      I hope that you understand that this is not very convincing to people outside yourself and your collaborators.

      Delete
    46. B"H

      I see that you again instead of answering the precise question that was presented to you, you opted for evasiveness and insulting.
      This reminds me your debating tactics, as evident in:

      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/02/ruach-hakodesh-and-reason.html?commentPage=2
      March 20, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      Delete
    47. On the other hand, you tried to refute -or at least weaken- my rabbit identification with the quotation "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region."
      I read the article you cited and I could not find a description of which measurements or method they used to distinguish between rabbit’s and hare’s fossils.
      As you know, rabbits and hares have similar skeletons, so if you want to use against my hypothesis the findings of the article you cited, you have to be able to proof that the lagomorph fossils they found are indeed hare’s fossils and not rabbit’s.


      To summarize, rabbits don't live in Israel today. And those who have looked into finding lagomorphs (which includes rabbits) have found only hares and no rabbits.

      Nevertheless, you hypothesize that rabbits were there and died out. For this, you bring no actual evidence, and you attempt to disprove those who have researched the issue and concluded otherwise by speculating, with no evidence, that perhaps they made a mistake. After all, who knows?

      Hamotsi mechavero, alav hareaya.

      Of course this is a Halachic principle about property and not a scientific principle. Science doesn't recognize possession. That said, if you'd like to apply the principle here, please honestly apply it to yourself and provide some evidence for your claims.

      Once you do that, you can also address the other mismatches between rabbits and the Shafan described in the pesukim.

      Delete
    48. B"H

      The Royal Society's motto 'Nullius in verba' roughly translates as 'take nobody's word for it'.
      It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment. 
      http://royalsociety.org/about-us/history/

      On the other hand, you tried to refute -or at least weaken- my rabbit identification with the quotation "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region."

      I read the article you cited and I could not find a description of which measurements or method they used to distinguish between rabbit’s and hare’s fossils.

      As you know, rabbits and hares have similar skeletons, so if you want to use against my hypothesis the findings of the article you cited, you have to be able to proof that the lagomorph fossils they found are indeed hare’s fossils and not rabbit’s.

      Delete
    49. I see that you again instead of answering the precise question that was presented to you, you opted for evasiveness and insulting.

      Your question was rhetorical! You were really saying: I don't accept the conclusions of the paper; I think that they misclassified rabbit remains as hare remains.

      Of what value could it be to answer a rhetorical question? (Note: that is a rhetorical question; the answer is "none").

      Asking a series of questions (rhetorical or otherwise) is not a substitute for an argument.

      Delete
    50. B"H

      If you accept the conclusions of the paper you quoted, please appeal to facts determined by experiment.

      Delete
    51. David Ohsie,

      R. Coffer, while I'm 100% willing to engage you in discussion on all your arguments, I'd like to avoid arguing with straw men or hashing over irrelevant points that have already been overhashed. Could you succinctly describe exactly what it is that you are arguing for (or against) and what your evidence is? I will do the same. Then we can have what is hopefully an enlightening discussion.

      Hello David. Thank you for writing. Initially I got involved in this discussion for the express purpose of explaining Dr. Betech’s accusation re the “two zoologists” thing. I did the appropriate research and then replied. But if you would like to discuss the sugya as a whole, I need to prepare a bit more. I need to carefully re-read Rabbi Slifkin’s chapter in The Camel and his letter to Dialogue. I need to re-read Dr. Betech’s article in Dialogue and sift through the hundreds of comments in the various threads on Rationalist and Analysis. I started doing this on several occasions in the past but there was so much irrelevant information, not to mention outright mud-slinging (some of Rabbi Slifkin’s chasidim are not very nice), that I became dissuaded from following the threads. Once I have finished the above (I’ll try and get it all done tonight), I will probably need to contact my colleague (Dr. Betech) and ask him to respond to whatever I need him to respond to. I will then jump back online and gladly accept your challenge. As far as what I am arguing for, or against, I don’t know yet. I need to do the research. However, I can pretty much predict what will happen. From what I’ve seen of Rabbi Slifkin’s stuff, he has some good arguments in favor of the hyrax (although I don’t know for sure until I give Rav Isaac an opportunity to remark on them). I also think Dr. Betech has some very good points. When I first read RNS’s chapter in The Camel, it sounded very convincing. But then I began studying Rav Isaac’s stuff and he sounded convincing too! So I will not be arguing against anything here per-se. What I intend to do is to present all of the arguments of both Rabbi Slifkin – in favor of the hyrax – and Dr. Betech – in favor of the rabbit – and then weigh in with my opinion on whose arguments are more compelling. Please give me until tomorrow to begin our dialogue. Thank you.

      Delete
    52. Initially I got involved in this discussion for the express purpose of explaining Dr. Betech’s accusation re the “two zoologists” thing. I did the appropriate research and then replied. But if you would like to discuss the sugya as a whole,

      No, we don't have to re-discuss the whole thing. My questions were more directed to get a context about your support of Dr. Betech's assertion of lying on the part of R. Slifkin. It would help if you could answer this one question and I'll make it easier for you to answer without research:


      1) Hyraxes definitely practice merycism.
      2) Hyraxes make chewing motions during non-eating periods and experts aren't sure whether or not this is merycism.
      3) Hyraxes definitely don't practice merycism.
      4) I don't know enough to say.

      Delete
    53. If you accept the conclusions of the paper you quoted, please appeal to facts determined by experiment.

      I think that we're tapped out here, Dr. Betech, on this line of argument. Our standards for determining truth are different and I don't think that it is fruitful to start arguing about what the definition of "appeal to authority"; suffice it to say that we disagree in either concept or application or both. And since no new facts or arguments seem to be forthcoming, I think that we've done our job and can leave it to the readers to come to their conclusions.

      Delete
    54. David Ohsie,

      I’m taking a break from analyzing technical papers on lagamorph paleontology for our upcoming discussion and taking some time to respond to your current thread of comments.

      1) Are you arguing that you believe that R. Slifkin lied about something in the debate?

      No. I was providing historical context for the purpose of explaining Dr. Betech’s frustration which ultimately led to his accusation. I’m pretty sure I was clear about that. But frankly, this element of the discussion is distasteful to me. I’m trying to get past it and move to the substance. So, if you’re asking me if I maintain that Rabbi Slifkin lied, the answer is no. Can we please move on now?

      If so, could you quote the lie, then give your evidence that it is a lie and then explain how it is important to the debate (if it is)?

      I’m pretty sure I already did that but I don’t mind repeating. First of all, as I just said I do not maintain that Rabbi Slifkin lied. I do however feel that he overstated his case when he wrote:

      “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication...” (my emphasis)

      and when challenged to reproduce said zoologists, responded:

      “Well, you can find the names of two zoologists in my book, and I could add two or three others...”

      As far as my evidence of overstatement, just read his book again. I have it right here on my desktop and I do not see any justification for claiming that there are “some” zoologists that have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate some food for re-mastication. If you feel I am wrong, I challenge you to produce the quotes. Start from page 97 and go to the bottom of page 101. Good luck.

      As far as how it is important to the debate, that’s obvious (and as before, I already explained this in my initial comments). One of Dr. Betech’s strongest proofs that the hyrax can’t be the shafan is because it is not a ma’aleh geira, i.e. it does not re-ingest its food. Merycism, although not a real form of rumination (as pointed out by the experts in Rabbi Slifkin’s book), could be understood by some as a way of mitigating the force of Dr. Betech’s otherwise strong objection. Naturally it is important to see how many experts, if any, claim that the hyrax “does in fact” practice merycism. Other than Hendrichs (who repeatedly claims full rumination), none of the other experts claim that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate some food etc (i.e. merycism). Not Meltzer, not Levnah, not Sale, not Hoeck and not Janis. Even the most enthusiastic one amongst them, Hume, concludes his statement with:

      “So even though the hyrax is primarily a hindgut fermenter, there might be a need for merycism to stimulate saliva flow.” (my emphasis)

      I hope my presentation was a bit clearer this time around.

      One final comment. Merycism is a very weak argument in favor of ma’aleh geira but this I will leave for our future discussions.

      Delete
    55. David Ohsie,

      2) If not, are you arguing that Shafan = rabbit or that Shafan != hyrax? If so, can you summarize your argument.

      I intend on presenting both arguments (shafan = rabbit and shafan = hyrax). As to which one I will ultimately adopt, I’m pretty sure it is the former but of course one can claim that this is merely my bias talking. So honestly, I don’t know yet. If during the course of my research I feel that the latter has equal merit, I will have no choice but to bow out from “paskening” and let our readers hash it out, me amongst them.

      Delete
    56. David Ohsie,

      Here is a summary of my understanding of the debate as played out in R. Slifkin's blog and this one:

      Dear David,

      I acknowledge your summary and thank you for taking your precious time to outline it. I will refer to it bl’n when presenting my case, hopefully next week bi’ezras Hashem.

      Delete
    57. David Ohsie,

      R. Coffer, I don't mean to make demands of you, but it would also help if you could very briefly identify your position on the following:

      Feel free to make as many demands as you want. I like demands, especially if they end up proving helpful.

      Having read the hyrax chapter for R. Slifkin's book, which of the following best describes your understanding?

      1) Hyraxes definitely practice merycism.
      2) Hyraxes make chewing motions during non-eating periods and experts aren't sure whether or not this is merycism.
      3) Hyraxes definitely don't practice merycism.

      Again, I'm not trying to give a homework assignment; I'm just trying to understand clearly where you are arguing for so that we can discuss this fruitfully rather than talking past each other, especially given the time constraints.


      Just like demands, I like homework! But if you really want a clear understanding of what I am arguing for, I’m afraid you left out choice 4) None of the above and choice 5) which best describes my understanding. Here it is.

      5) Experts feel that Hyraxes most likely do not practice merycism although the possibility cannot be entirely ruled out.

      Delete
    58. Just like demands, I like homework! But if you really want a clear understanding of what I am arguing for, I’m afraid you left out choice 4) None of the above and choice 5) which best describes my understanding. Here it is.

      5) Experts feel that Hyraxes most likely do not practice merycism although the possibility cannot be entirely ruled out.


      Fair enough; I was only suggesting possible answers to help explain my question. Of course you are you right answer as you see fit.

      You might not like this, but your #5 is in basic agreement with R. Slifkin. Which is why I will (gently say) that "L" stuff needs to be dropped. And I'll not bring it up again; sorry for doing it one last time, but I did it gently as you asked...)

      We can get into more detail later, but the meaning of Maaleh Gerah throughout the ages has been "ruminant". So it troubles us that it turns out while all the kosher animals + the Gamal are ruminants, neither the hare or hyrax are (neither is the rabbit). But it is much less troubling when we see that using 21st century technology, we're still not sure what the heck that hyrax is doing when it is chewing and until the 20th century or so, it was even misjudged as ruminant (as was the hare in ancient times).

      Since the Torah was given to angels and not men, it would have been very confusing for the receivers to have a list of "almost kosher" animals that didn't include 2 of the "almost kosher" animals most commonly eaten in the area.

      One more thing: the rabbit is bad candidate for Shafan, not because the hyrax is a merycist or appears to be one. It is a bad candidate because it doesn't fit.

      Delete
    59. Since the Torah was given to angels and not men, it would have been very confusing for the receivers to have a list of "almost kosher" animals that didn't include 2 of the "almost kosher" animals most commonly eaten in the area.

      Of course I meant to say: "Since the Torah was given to men and not angels"...

      Delete
    60. I want to clarify that I agree that the formulation of the sentence in my letter to Dialogue regarding the possibility of merycism was not very good. The more detailed formulation in my book and my encyclopedia chapter is much better. However, it's almost completely irrelevant, and Betech's attempts to focus on it are an obfuscating tactic.

      It's a single sentence on the third page dealing with an extremely minor aspect. As I make clear in my book, and the letter, and my blog, merycism is only a secondary possibility as to how to explain maaleh gerah; I added it to the letter as a "v'yesh omrim". I've never been committed to the hyrax practicing merycism, and even if it does, I personally don't think that this is why it was called maaleh gerah. And Betech doesn't think so either. So it's irrelevant to both of us.

      Betech pretended to have absolutely no idea as to who I was referring to, even though he obviously knew at least one of the people that I had in mind (Hendrichs), and merely disputed whether that was a legitimate source (on the grounds that Hendrichs is disputed by others - which I do not see as negating him as an opinion, merely as showing that his position is not conclusive, which I readily agree!). So Betech was being dishonest and distracting, as per his usual methodology.

      Why was Betech harping on this minor, irrelevant point? Because he saw it as enabling him to avoid dealing with the primary point of my letter: that the rabbit cannot be the shafan, since it doesn't live in Israel and doesn't habitually hide in rocks. Even if you want to posit that David and Shlomo had ruach hakodesh, that does not remotely help, for numerous reasons spelled out at http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/02/ruach-hakodesh-and-reason.html. This is what makes Betech's approach utterly fail, and his refusal to address this is most revealing.

      In contrast to parashas Shemini, where the goal is to list animals with one kosher sign, the goal of Tehillim and Mishlei is to refer to a small animal that hides in rocks. When there is a local animal that does exactly that - and moreover, is associated with the ibex that is mentioned in the same verse - it is just plain silly to propose that they instead decided to refer to a distant, unfamiliar animal that doesn't usually do that.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. david,

      i'm a bit late to this party and certainly haven't read all the back and forth of this (at least to me ) almost inane discussion. But, could you kindly tell me what is the practical difference if the shafan is the hyrax or the rabbit or the platypus for that matter?

      Delete
    2. david,

      i'm a bit late to this party and certainly haven't read all the back and forth of this (at least to me ) almost inane discussion. But, could you kindly tell me what is the practical difference if the shafan is the hyrax or the rabbit or the platypus for that matter?


      I don't think that there is a practical difference, for the most part. If you maintain that Shafan and Arneves are musk deer and mouse deer, then there might be a difference because then those animals would be considered non-kosher whereas otherwise, they may be (are?) kosher.

      R. Slifkin speculates on the reasons for passionate argument about this here.

      My own motivation for participation is well described here.

      Delete
    3. Fixing the link.

      R. Slifkin speculates on the reasons for passionate argument about this here.

      Delete
  12. I’m sorry David but you are clearly mischaracterizing my words. I was not defending Dr. Betech as a person. I was providing a valid justification for his allegation of prevarication against Rabbi Slifkin.

    I certainly can't argue with you if you say that you meant something else, but I'm at a loss as to what it could be. The state of mind of the accuser is wholly irrelevant to adjudicating the merits of a charge of intentional fraud. So the only thing that it help with is to exonerate Dr. Betech as a person if he overreached. If that was not your intent, then I don't get the point of your argument.

    Wouldn’t you begin to suspect “mischaracterization” (advertent or inadvertent) after repeatedly requesting precise mareh mikomos without response?

    We can argue analogies all day long, but the obvious difference is that R. Slifkin has laid out his argument and sources for possible hyrax merycism in his book. Dr. Betech was making one of his odd zero-content arguments when we said that he "could not find" the reference (or was it that he could find one, but not two references, or maybe he found two but he disagreed with one, or maybe it was that he found two, but he thinks that testimony from the 18th century is suspect, or that he disputes a title). He had the book, so his suspicion of what was behind the references was silly.

    In my opinion, Dr. Betech did not act irrationally. He acted normally. The only ta’anah you might have is that perhaps Rav Isaac shouldn’t have used the “L” word but you already accepted my “limud zchus” of Dr. Betech as a person so there’s nothing left to talk about here, right? Let’s just move on to the substantive issues.

    This sounds reasonable, but there is a problem. The only possible purpose for Dr. Betech to discus the two zoologist issue is to try to discredit R. Slifkin as a person. This is not isolated as he uses as part of his argument above, that he is an Apikores and that he is not a Shomer Mitzvos: adding fraud completes the troika. The question of one or two references or zoologist vs. traveler is wholly irrelevant to the substance of the argument. While I don't agree with Dr. Betech's hazy arguments, if I did it would be wholly irrelevant for a number of reasons:

    1) R. Slifin's hyrax chapter and section on rumination and merycism stands on its own. It is clear that even the strong opponents of Hyrax rumination conceded and have even observed that we simply don't know whether the obvious chewing motions of the hyrax are merycism or not. So the only "hook" is fraud or lying (+ apostasy and being an "avaryan".)

    2) This is wholly unrelated to whether or not the rabbit works. It doesn't because it doesn't match the pesukim. Without the fraud angle the whole thing is silly (and the whole thing is silly).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David Ohsie,

      I wrote: “I’m sorry David but you are clearly mischaracterizing my words. I was not defending Dr. Betech as a person. I was providing a valid justification for his allegation of prevarication against Rabbi Slifkin.”

      To which David responds:

      I certainly can't argue with you if you say that you meant something else, but I'm at a loss as to what it could be.

      At a loss? Do words mean nothing to you? Just read the very paragraph you quoted above. I did not mean the second sentence, I meant the third sentence.

      The state of mind of the accuser is wholly irrelevant to adjudicating the merits of a charge of intentional fraud.

      Correct. And totally irrelevant. Right after the paragraph you quoted above, I went on to give you a long example of circumstances that could easily justify an objective accusation of fraud and then related them to our current circumstances.

      This sounds reasonable, but there is a problem. The only possible purpose for Dr. Betech to discus the two zoologist issue is to try to discredit R. Slifkin as a person.

      NO IT IS NOT! The reason is precisely the one I’ve supplied you with, at least two times during the course of this thread, maybe three (the back and forth is making me dizzy). Here’s time #3 (or 4?).

      The “two zoologist” issue serves to weaken one of Rabbi Betech’s primary arguments against the hyrax; to wit, that the hyrax is not a maaleh geira. As such, it is crucial to the substantive issue at hand. I am at a loss (to borrow your term) as to why this argument needs to be continuously repeated.

      It is clear that even the strong opponents of Hyrax rumination conceded and have even observed that we simply don't know whether the obvious chewing motions of the hyrax are merycism or not.

      Lovely! Then that’s what one should say! Not that “some observed for a fact that the hyrax does practice some regurgitation”. I think I’ve repeated this ta’anah enough times by now…

      This is wholly unrelated to whether or not the rabbit works. It doesn't because it doesn't match the pesukim.

      Actually, this is entirely false. Assuming the rabbit existed in Israel during early biblical times, it fits perfectly with the pesukim! I wasn’t going to bring this up until next week but I couldn’t resist making at least a minor protest against such a blatant misstatement.

      Delete
  13. Frankly, I would question Dr. Betech's expertise here.

    This is precisely what I was not interested in getting involved in.

    You brought up the "he is an expert" defense, so if you want to drop it, it is fine with me. I'll only say that his seeming ignorance of the seemingly basic sources show otherwise.

    He was unaware that only hares and not rabbits live and have lived in Israel,

    Unaware? I’m confused. Isn’t this the very point of contention between Dr. Betech and Rabbi Slifkin? Whether rabbits did indeed live in Israel of the past?

    Not really. Neither Dr. Betech nor R. Slifkin have done any original research in the area. So to say that they argue the point is overstating it. What they can do is quote the research of others, and here is where Dr. Betech was unaware of the source material or confused by it:

    1) The topic has been specifically studied here and the abstract says: "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region." http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_2000_num_26_1_4701

    2) Some other sources indicated that rabbits where hunted as game such as this one, turned out to be based on transpositions to rabbit from the hare of the original source. http://www.amazon.com/Last-Hunters-First-Farmers-Perspectives/dp/0933452918

    Dr. Betech was unaware of these issues and the complete lack of evidence that rabbits ever lived in Israel. The proof is that until recently, he was still trying to claim that Tchernov did find rabbits in Israel and that the other sources misquoting him where quoting some unreference personal communication that they got from him that he neglected to write down (or something like that; the argument was not all that coherent). Now he's switched over to "I assert it despite all the existing research finding no evidence". If he had known about the lack of any evidence for rabbits in Israel initially, then he would have simply made the argument "I know full well that the experts who have researched the issue claim no evidence, but I claim rabbits lived there anyhow".

    I suppose in that sense you could say he not ignorant of the fact there were no rabbits in ancient (or modern) Israel in the same way that a flat-earther is not ignorant of the fact earth is round; they just deny it. I'll say instead that he was ignorant of the sources until recently; now he's in denial mode.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really. Neither Dr. Betech nor R. Slifkin have done any original research in the area. So to say that they argue the point is overstating it. What they can do is quote the research of others,

      Sorry David but you’re off by a country mile. The issue of hyrax versus rabbit existed long before Tchernov’s paper in 2000. There are plenty of compelling reasons to say that the shafan is a rabbit. Tchernov’s paper does nothing to undermine this, trust me. Actually, don’t trust me. Just wait for my analysis of his paper next week and we’ll discuss it then.

      I gotta go. Be well...Simcha

      Delete
  14. These are all in support of the modest and tentative conclusion:

    Tentative? What are you talking about?

    You clipped off my quotation from R. Slifkin. I'll put them back here along with some others:

    From his Camel, Hare, Hyrax book:

    It could be that the observations of chewing motions in the hyrax are due to merycism.

    Thus, there is a distinct likelihood that the hyrax practices merycism, and is therefore described as bringing up the cud.

    If the hyrax does not practice merycism—and perhaps even if it does—it would seem that there is different and superior way to approach the entire topic.

    From his encylopedia:

    Perhaps the hyrax engages in merycism, which would account for those who have claimed to observe it ruminating, as well as the Torah’s description of it. However, other zoologists doubt this interpretation of the actions of the hyrax. They argue that hyraxes will
    work their jaws from side-to-side when confronted with something new and potentially dangerous, as a threatening gesture. It is therefore suggested that all alleged observations of the hyrax chewing its cud may in fact be observations of a form of communication that has nothing to do with food.

    So yes, R. Slifkin makes the modest and tentative conclusions that the clear observations (that you can make for yourself by watch his youtube videos) of hyrax chewing motions (not related to eating) may be merycism, or they may not be. He says it over and over in many locations.

    Rabbi Slifkin wrote that there were two zoologists in his book who observed regurgitation and re-mastication in hyraxes and he could supply another two or three. There’s nothing “tentative” about that statement. Dr. Betech took umbrage with this, rightfully so. Look David; if you personally wish to believe that the speculative musings of the scientists in your last three quotes results in the “distinct likelihood” that the hyrax practices merycism, so be it. But this is not our topic. Dr. Betech is looking for sources in the zoological literature which support Rabbi Slifkin’s contention; not your “modest” conclusions.

    You are giving a wonderful description of the silliness of this whole discussion and the lack of coherence of the "fraud" charge. The "tentative conlusion" and the other quotes are also directly out of R. Slifkins own writing! If Dr. Betech is looking for sources for his conclusions, then he can read the book and find the sources. They are right there.

    So you are now reduced to arguing:

    1) "I read the book, and I don't agree". Dr. Betech avoids this because it won't sustain a charge of fraud.

    2) "I read a sentences from your blog describing what is in your book and I don't think that is the way that I would have described what you wrote in your book. I would have said (e.g.) one zoologist and one traveler, since you didn't, you are a fraud". (I, David don't agree that there was any mischaracterization, but arguendo if there was, this is the limit of what one could "charge").

    I'm out of time for now, so I'll have to pick this up later. However, based on this, I'd really ask you clarify exactly what the fraud charge is, what R. Slifkin "should have written" if he was being "honest", why you think that R. Slifkin would intentionally misquote his own writings, and how it is relevant to the debate, if it is.

    Once you clarify that, I can go back to whether the charge has substance and analyze the sources in R. Slikin's hyrax chapter point by point if need be (but later, because I've spent as much time as I can on this for now).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear David,

      Unfortunately I too am short on time. As I began to do the research I realized it would take me several days to chase down all the technical references, both in Rabbi Slifkin’s books/articles and Dr. Betech’s, and verify them for myself. I never engage in academic discussion/debate without familiarizing myself with all the relevant material first. So most likely we will not be able to pick this up until well into next week. I will probably start a new Post on my site (or if Rabbi Slifkin wants to debate me on his site I will entertain this idea too) but I will be focusing on academic arguments and eschewing discussions which are irrelevant to the subject matter at hand. And as far as I’m concerned, the subject matter is; which animal is more reasonable to adopt as the definition for the Biblical shafan; the rabbit or the hyrax? Anything else is irrelevant.

      One final comment. From all of Rabbi Slifkin’s opponents, I am the one who has communicated with him most extensively. I am intimately familiar with his style of writing and your comments are remarkably similar – both in style and content and in the sheer rapidity of response – to what I would expect from him. So, if David Oshie is a pseudonym for Rabbi Slifkin, or if David Oshie is a real individual but the material he is posting is basically Rabbi Slifkin’s, I would like to know.

      Delete
    2. Dear Rabbi Coffer:

      You are welcome to do the research on the general topic and post your opinions, but please don't do it in order to debate with me because I can't guarantee a response; I came here because I felt that Dr. Betech's dishonorable accusations of apostasy, sinfulness and fraud deserved a calling out and rebuttal ad loc.

      Given the quality of your judgement about your friend Dr. Betech and his rantings, I'm not surprised at the quality of your judgement about my identity, nor by your insinuations of plagiarism. These tactics are right up Dr. Betech's alley.

      Finally, in these matters, it helps to get the spelling straight, since I don't use a pseudonym.

      Yours truly,

      David Ohsie

      Delete
    3. David Ohsie,

      Dear Rabbi Coffer:

      You are welcome to do the research on the general topic and post your opinions, but please don't do it in order to debate with me because I can't guarantee a response;


      I am doing it for two reasons. The first is because I think this sugya is important and I don’t think Dr. Betech’s position got a fair shake. The second reason is personal. From what I can see the vast majority of dialogue was ad hominem in nature and to a certain degree I feel responsible for this. There are two administrators on this blog, Dr. Ostroff and me. A long time ago RJO suggested that we run a moderated site but I bullied my opinion through and left it unmoderated. Unfortunately RJO seems to have been correct. Dr. Betech is a refined and sensitive man and a big yiray Shamayim. I feel somewhat guilty for the needles tzar and agmas nefesh he had to endure so I’ve decided to assist him in presenting his view as a ”teshuvas ha’mishkal”.

      I came here because I felt that Dr. Betech's dishonorable accusations of apostasy, sinfulness and fraud deserved a calling out and rebuttal ad loc.

      Fine. Mission accomplished. But from here on in, no more! If you wish to maintain a dialogue with me, I respectfully request that it remains focused exclusively on topic.

      Given the quality of your judgement about your friend Dr. Betech and his rantings,

      This, David, is an example of the type of comment which, if made in the future, will invariably compel me to terminate communication with you. Let’s keep the dialogue civil please.

      BTY, if you feel the need to be impolite or even nasty towards me, kol hakavod. As far as I’m concerned, its water off a duck’s back. (Besides, it gives me an excuse to be nasty too… :-) But please do not disparage my colleagues. That’s all I care about.

      I'm not surprised at the quality of your judgement about my identity,

      I didn’t “judge” your identity. I attempted to verify your identity. What’s wrong with that? As you know, pseudonyms are a common occurrence on blogs.

      nor by your insinuations of plagiarism.

      I insinuated no such thing. Plagiarism is imitation without authority. I was merely asking if Rabbi Slifkin was using your account to post his thoughts. You are entitled to give him authority to do so and he is entitled to give you authority to post his ideas in your name. If there is mutual agreement amongst you, this is not plagiarism.
      In any case, I see that I erred so my apologies, both to you and to Rabbi Slifkin. In retrospect, I suppose I should not have suspected RNS of doing such a thing.

      Finally, in these matters, it helps to get the spelling straight, since I don't use a pseudonym.

      Once again, my apologies.

      Delete
    4. The second reason is personal. From what I can see the vast majority of dialogue was ad hominem in nature and to a certain degree I feel responsible for this. There are two administrators on this blog, Dr. Ostroff and me. A long time ago RJO suggested that we run a moderated site but I bullied my opinion through and left it unmoderated. Unfortunately RJO seems to have been correct.

      This is a very odd conclusion given that this post was written by Dr. Betech and contains 3 personal attacks against R. Slifkin, 2 of which are not even remotely related to the topic of the debate, and which are basically the most vile things that you could call an orthodox scholar (apikores, avaryan and fraud). Or are you saying that you would have moderated and rejected Dr. Betech's post?

      Dr. Betech is a refined and sensitive man and a big yiray Shamayim. I feel somewhat guilty for the needles tzar and agmas nefesh he had to endure so I’ve decided to assist him in presenting his view as a ”teshuvas ha’mishkal”.

      I do not wish Dr. Betech any harm or sadness. I would have great admiration for him if he simply followed the principles that you have outlined and retracted his personal attacks. But as long as they are out there, it is very difficult to forcefully counter them without calling these arguments what they are.

      I came here because I felt that Dr. Betech's dishonorable accusations of apostasy, sinfulness and fraud deserved a calling out and rebuttal ad loc.

      Fine. Mission accomplished. But from here on in, no more! If you wish to maintain a dialogue with me, I respectfully request that it remains focused exclusively on topic.

      Dr. Betech defined the topic with his post. But we can certainly move on to other topics and I will not bring this up again wrt other topics.

      Given the quality of your judgement about your friend Dr. Betech and his rantings,

      This, David, is an example of the type of comment which, if made in the future, will invariably compel me to terminate communication with you. Let’s keep the dialogue civil please.

      I have a bad habit of responding in kind which I would like to break. Despite your refrain about avoiding uncivil personal comments, in your last post you made a serious one about either R. Slifkin or me. While I don't equate responding sharply to a personal attack with making the attack to begin with, if you will apply your principles to your own writing, then I will tone down my rhetoric. You might also consider that an overly sanctimonious tone is rhetoric that we can do without.

      BTY, if you feel the need to be impolite or even nasty towards me, kol hakavod. As far as I’m concerned, its water off a duck’s back. (Besides, it gives me an excuse to be nasty too… :-) But please do not disparage my colleagues. That’s all I care about.

      I'll try to say this nicely, but I have a slight mistrust in this statement given your attitude towards the content of Dr. Betech's post, but I'll assume that you will prove from now one that you define "colleague" widely enough for this statement to have meaning.

      Delete
    5. I'm not surprised at the quality of your judgement about my identity,

      I didn't “judge” your identity.

      You "judged" based on what you thought was your understanding of R. Slifkin's writing style and speed that I was likely R. Slifkin's sock puppet in one way or another. You still don't really know whether or not your judgement was right or wrong, but I do, and it was not correct.

      I attempted to verify your identity. What’s wrong with that? As you know, pseudonyms are a common occurrence on blogs.

      You didn't suggest that I used a pseudonym (which would be OK anyhow). You suggested that either I was R. Slifkin or that I was pretending to write things under my own name or pseudonym which were really written by R. Slifkin. And you didn't try to verify my identity; for that you would have emailed R. Slifkin; or done some googling and tried to contact me; or you could asked me to send you a personal email. What you did was to publically doubt my integrity or that of R. Slifkin with no evidence other than vague suspicions.

      Again, I will write this without rancor, but this bears great similarity to the pass that you give to Dr. Betech's post and stands in sharp contrast with your great particularity on my use of sharp words in direct response to such personal attacks. Your explanation would make more sense if you applied it evenhandedly to your own language and that of Dr. Betech and not just against your opponents in discussion, and if you held the instigator of the personal attacks more responsible than the person who responds sharply.

      I insinuated no such thing. Plagiarism is imitation without authority. I was merely asking if Rabbi Slifkin was using your account to post his thoughts. You are entitled to give him authority to do so and he is entitled to give you authority to post his ideas in your name. If there is mutual agreement amongst you, this is not plagiarism.

      First off, your definition of plagiarism is not customary; if I pay a person to write a paper for me, that is also plagiarism even though everyone agrees to it.

      Second, this is just semantics; clearly, passing off the work of others as your own is a serious form of intellectual dishonesty whatever you call it, and would create suspicion about anything that I wrote in the future, whether you call it plagiarism or anything else.

      In any case, I see that I erred so my apologies, both to you and to Rabbi Slifkin. In retrospect, I suppose I should not have suspected RNS of doing such a thing.

      I'll again politely say that this is apology is off a bit, since just above you claimed that you did nothing wrong. Besides, you can have all the suspicions you want in your head, but when you air your "suspicions" about someone in writing, it is tantamount to an accusation for which you had no basis and for which you have not done the investigation.

      That said, I say T'fillah Zakah every Yom Kippur and I say it again here: I relinquish all claims of this kind if I have any such claims. And I sincerely wish you and Dr. Betech each a long and healthy life.

      Finally, I do hereby apologize for using sharp words and rhetoric and I have tried to back this up by avoiding their use in this post. I don't expect you to trust me on this yet (nor do I completely trust myself), but you can judge me on it going forward.

      Delete
  15. Related to this general topic. I have a question for either David O. or Dr. Betech.

    Can you tell me if the llama has split hooves as defined by halakha, i.e. to make it Kosher??
    i looked on Wiki, but the pictures were not clear enough

    ReplyDelete
  16. No, a llama is not considered to have split hooves. If it did it would be kosher since it is a ruminant. The first time I saw a llama, I commented that it looked to be kosher, but it isn't. R. Slifin has this in his book:

    But do llama feet meet the Torah definition of split hooves? The answer seems to be no, just like the camel. With Rashi’s definition of mafris parsah, that a fully split foot is required, llamas do not qualify; although the pad is
    far more deeply cleft than that of camels, there is still an area in which they are joined. With Rashbam’s definition of mafris parsah, that a true hoof is required, llamas also fail to meet this requirement; even though their nails are more developed than those of camels, they still do not fully encase the foot like a true hoof.


    If you are interested in this stuff, spend a few dollars to buy the book; you'll find pictures and a comparison table. It is not hard to understand, and your are not compelled to agree with R. Slifkin just because you buy the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you. by the book, i assume you mean "the camel, hare and hyrax"?

      Delete
  17. Yes, you can find it here: http://zootorah.com/books/the-camel-the-hare-and-the-hyrax.

    Apparently, on this blog, I must also now disclaim that I am R. Slifkin's sock puppet selling my own book or that I'm recommending the book at his behest or sharing in the profits :).

    ReplyDelete
  18. 1) Are you arguing that you believe that R. Slifkin lied about something in the debate?


    No. I was providing historical context for the purpose of explaining Dr. Betech’s frustration which ultimately led to his accusation. I’m pretty sure I was clear about that. But frankly, this element of the discussion is distasteful to me. I’m trying to get past it and move to the substance. So, if you’re asking me if I maintain that Rabbi Slifkin lied, the answer is no. Can we please move on now?

    Yes, and thank you for your honesty. If I was not a bit obsessive, I would not be posting here, so please excuse my obsessiveness...



    ReplyDelete
  19. Simcha Coffer has left a new comment on the post "Lacking in derech eretz and in knowledge":

    David Ohsie,

    I wrote: “I’m sorry David but you are clearly mischaracterizing my words. I was not defending Dr. Betech as a person. I was providing a valid justification for his allegation of prevarication against Rabbi Slifkin.”

    To which David responds:

    I certainly can't argue with you if you say that you meant something else, but I'm at a loss as to what it could be.

    At a loss? Do words mean nothing to you? Just read the very paragraph you quoted above. I did not mean the second sentence, I meant the third sentence.

    The state of mind of the accuser is wholly irrelevant to adjudicating the merits of a charge of intentional fraud.

    Correct. And totally irrelevant. Right after the paragraph you quoted above, I went on to give you a long example of circumstances that could easily justify an objective accusation of fraud and then related them to our current circumstances.


    Since we've agreed that there was no lie or fraud and to call leave off this line of reasoning, I'll leave this one alone.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Not really. Neither Dr. Betech nor R. Slifkin have done any original research in the area. So to say that they argue the point is overstating it. What they can do is quote the research of others,

    Sorry David but you’re off by a country mile. The issue of hyrax versus rabbit existed long before Tchernov’s paper in 2000. There are plenty of compelling reasons to say that the shafan is a rabbit. Tchernov’s paper does nothing to undermine this, trust me. Actually, don’t trust me. Just wait for my analysis of his paper next week and we’ll discuss it then.


    I think that you it is possible that you misunderstood my statement. You had stated that a fundamental argument between Dr. Betech and R. Slifkin is whether rabbits lived in Biblical Israel (or ever).

    On that topic, neither has done original research. To do that kind of research, you have to go to Israel and dig in the ground to see what you find. Neither of them has done this.

    What Tchernov and others have done is to do that research. I'm sure that they are not the first nor will they be the last. But their conclusion was that there were hares and no rabbits just as there are hares, but no rabbits today in Israel.

    Now I'm certainly no expert here and it is possible that there are other papers contradicting their conclusion, or there is something that I'm not reading right in the sentence "Since the Middle Pleistocene the cape hare (Lepus capensis) has been the only species of lagomorph known from this region.". However, there has been nothing in the discussion to indicate that. If you have proof that the sentence is mistaken or I'm misinterpreting it then please present the evidence.

    If it turns out that rabbits did not and do not live in Israel, then this is certainly very strong evidence against the rabbit as Shafan.

    The fact that people have been discussing the identity of the Shafan before Tchernov's paper is true but irrelevant to the understanding that these researchers bring to the topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a little confused as to why it makes a difference if rabbits lived in biblical E"Y. The question should also include if rabbits lived in biblical Mitzrayim? If they did it would make perfect sense to discuss rabbits as the shafan and it could fit everything in the Chumash. The reference from Tehillim would not be a major issue

      Delete
    2. The reference from Tehillim is a major issue because it is one of the few reliable descriptions that we have of the Shafan and the rabbit doesn't match it while the hyrax matches perfectly. This would be true even if rabbits lived in biblical Israel.

      I have no expertise myself here, but according to R. Slifkin, there is no evidence of rabbits in biblical Egypt. There are rabbits in modern Egypt (not in Israel), but it is known that they were brought over from Europe and are not native to Egypt. There isn't evidence of their existence in biblical Egypt. Dr. Betech has supposed otherwise for both biblical Egypt and Israel, but has not brought a direct source for this.

      There is other evidence for hyrax in including the testimony of R. Saadia Gaon and linguistic evidence from other languages. For a summary of how the Nach evidence is important, I repeat myself here, based on the treatment by R. Slifkin in his book, encyclopedia article and blog (mistakes mine):

      The Rabbit doesn't match for four reasons.

      1) There were no rabbits in Biblical Israel.

      2) Rabbits (of the kind Dr. Betech refers to) don't hide in rocks as described in the pesukim. They burrow in the ground.

      3) Rabbits don't live near the Ibex as implied by the pesukim.

      4) There is another animal (hyrax) that does match all of those characteristics perfectly. Thus, to make the rabbit match the pesukim, it would not be enough to, for example, that it sometimes hides in rocks if it has no other choice. Or perhaps that it doesn't live near the Ibex, but fact that Ibex and Shafan are in the same pasuk is coincidence. Because if that was really the case and if Shafan = Rabbit, then the authors of the pesukim could have made their point much clearer and more effective by using the Hyrax as their example instead of the rabbit. Why would they pick the Rabbit which doesn't quite match what they want to say, when there is a nice little well-known hyrax sitting there that fits in perfectly with what they are trying to say.

      So the evidence from those pesukim strongy disfavor the rabbit and strongly favor the hyrax (they don't have to together, but they happen to).

      Now, here is a subtle part. Even if you could show 100% that the Hyrax is not Maaleh Gerah, the rabbit still doesn't match the pesukim in Nach. Say, for example that the Hyrax were a carnivore. What we would be forced to say is that we don't know what is going on. On the one hand the pesukim in Tanach refer to the Hyrax as the Shafan. On the other hand, the torah calls the Shafan something that is at least an herbivore. So I'm stuck with an question until Mashiach comes.

      Now it turns out that the Hyrax is an herbivore and in fact makes chewing motions that were attributed to rumination and, lo and behold, the Arneves is also in the same position (not a ruminant, but appears to be one). This requires more discussion and I certainly concede that it would be much clearer if the the Hyrax and Hare were true ruminants, but unfortunately no animal fits 100% perfectly to all the descriptions as traditionally understood.

      So the bottom line is as follows:

      1) Establishing the rabbit's existence in Biblical Israel would not be enough to make it match the pesukim from Nach. Since these are the most detailed reliable descriptions of the Shafan that we have, this is a serious problem for the rabbit theory.

      2) Establishing that the Shafan is not Maaleh Gerah does not make the rabbit match the pesukim any better, although it definitely would leave us in a quandary.

      Delete
  21. This sounds reasonable, but there is a problem. The only possible purpose for Dr. Betech to discus the two zoologist issue is to try to discredit R. Slifkin as a person.

    NO IT IS NOT! The reason is precisely the one I’ve supplied you with, at least two times during the course of this thread, maybe three (the back and forth is making me dizzy). Here’s time #3 (or 4?).

    The “two zoologist” issue serves to weaken one of Rabbi Betech’s primary arguments against the hyrax; to wit, that the hyrax is not a maaleh geira. As such, it is crucial to the substantive issue at hand. I am at a loss (to borrow your term) as to why this argument needs to be continuously repeated.

    It is clear that even the strong opponents of Hyrax rumination conceded and have even observed that we simply don't know whether the obvious chewing motions of the hyrax are merycism or not.

    Lovely! Then that’s what one should say! Not that “some observed for a fact that the hyrax does practice some regurgitation”. I think I’ve repeated this ta’anah enough times by now…

    Again, since we have eliminated the "L" from discussion, I don't think it's fruitful to argue whether a sentence in R. Slifkins blog could have better described his own book, so we can leave it here.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is wholly unrelated to whether or not the rabbit works. It doesn't because it doesn't match the pesukim.

    Actually, this is entirely false. Assuming the rabbit existed in Israel during early biblical times, it fits perfectly with the pesukim! I wasn’t going to bring this up until next week but I couldn’t resist making at least a minor protest against such a blatant misstatement.


    Here is the basis for the statement. The Rabbit doesn't match for four reasons.

    1) There were no rabbits there (this is the reason that you propose to refute).

    2) Rabbits (of the kind you are going to propose lived there) don't hide in rocks as described in the pesukim. They burrow in the ground.

    3) Rabbits don't live near the Ibex as implied by the pesukim.

    4) There is another animal (hyrax) that does match all of those characteristics perfectly. Thus, to make the rabbit match the pesukim, it would not be enough to, for example, that it sometimes hides in rocks if it has no other choice. Or perhaps that it doesn't live near the Ibex, but fact that Ibex and Shafan are in the same pasuk is coincidence. Because if that was really the case and if Shafan = Rabbit, then the authors of the pesukim could have made their point much clearer and more effective by using the Hyrax as their example instead of the rabbit. Why would they pick the Rabbit which doesn't quite match what they want to say, when there is a nice little well-known hyrax sitting there that fits in perfectly with what they are trying to say.

    So the evidence from those pesukim strongy disfavor the rabbit and strongly favor the hyrax (they don't have to together, but they happen to).

    Now, here is a subtle part. Even if you could show 100% that the Hyrax is not Maaleh Gerah, the rabbit still doesn't match the pesukim in Nach. Say, for example that the Hyrax were a carnivore. What we would be forced to say is that we don't know what is going on. On the one hand the pesukim in Tanach refer to the Hyrax as the Shafan. On the other hand, the torah calls the Shafan something that is at least an herbivore. So I'm stuck with an question until Mashiach comes.

    Now it turns out that the Hyrax is an herbivore and in fact makes chewing motions that were attributed to rumination and, lo and behold, the Arneves is also in the same position (not a ruminant, but appears to be one). This requires more discussion and I certainly concede that it would be much clearer if the the Hyrax and Hare were true ruminants, but unfortunately no animal fits 100% perfectly to all the descriptions as traditionally understood.

    So the bottom line is as follows:

    1) Establishing the rabbit's existence in Biblical Israel would not be enough to make it match the pesukim from Nach. Since these are the most detailed reliable descriptions of the Shafan that we have, this is a serious problem for the rabbit theory.

    2) Establishing that the Shafan is not Maaleh Gerah does not make the rabbit match the pesukim any better, although it definitely would leave us in a quandary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry that #2 should have been:

      2) Establishing that the *Hyrax* is not Maaleh Gerah does not make the rabbit match the pesukim any better, although it definitely would leave us in a quandary.

      Delete
  23. Natan Slifkin,

    Hi Reb Nosson, Simcha Coffer here. I’m glad you wrote in. Actually I was in the middle of writing a post about your machlokes with R’ Isaac when someone alerted me that you made a comment (I still haven’t figured out how to get my site to send me alerts of new comments!). Since I have you here with me, I may as well focus directly on the ba’al davar. My responses interspersed after your remarks.

    I want to clarify that I agree that the formulation of the sentence in my letter to Dialogue regarding the possibility of merycism was not very good.

    I knew you felt that way! Unfortunately some of your supporters decided to bash R’ Isaac unnecessarily when this clarification was really all he was looking for.

    The more detailed formulation in my book and my encyclopedia chapter is much better.

    Agreed. And in your book you make it clear that merycism is a dismal prospect indeed.

    However, it's almost completely irrelevant,

    I disagree. I will comment on this shortly.

    and Betech's attempts to focus on it are an obfuscating tactic.

    Maybe, maybe not. But now it’s you and I and trust me, I have no intention to obfuscate.

    It's a single sentence on the third page dealing with an extremely minor aspect.

    Yes, it is a single sentence and yes it is on the third page, but the aspect it deals with is not minor at all. R’ Isaac’s article strives to demonstrate that the shafan is the rabbit. One of his main arguments in support of the rabbit is that it re-digests its food, as opposed to the hyrax. Along comes Reb Nosson and blithely responds that “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication”. If I was Isaac, I would have reached through the computer and shook you! Your statement is simply not true! None of the zoologists you quote conclude such a thing. The only zoologist who claims re-mastication is Hendrichs and he claims full rumination, not merycism. All subsequent zoologists reject his conclusions (as do you) and none of them claim that they “in fact observed” a hyrax re-masticating food. With all due respect, I think you should have been a bit more careful in your response to Dialogue.

    As I make clear in my book, and the letter, and my blog, merycism is only a secondary possibility as to how to explain maaleh gerah;

    Maybe so. But your letter was written in response to a very specific article. Said article leans heavily on the argument from re-mastication. The people reading your letter do not necessarily know everything you’ve written in your books and blogs. All they see is that “some zoologists” have “in fact” observed re-mastication. To the naïve mind, this clearly results in a serious undermining of the opposing thesis. Frankly, I can’t blame R’ Isaac for being irritated.

    I've never been committed to the hyrax practicing merycism, and even if it does, I personally don't think that this is why it was called maaleh gerah. And Betech doesn't think so either. So it's irrelevant to both of us.

    OK. So let’s call a truce. Merycism in the hyrax will no longer be brought up by either side in this debate, deal?

    ReplyDelete
  24. R’ Nosson - continued

    Betech pretended to have absolutely no idea as to who I was referring to, even though he obviously knew at least one of the people that I had in mind (Hendrichs), and merely disputed whether that was a legitimate source (on the grounds that Hendrichs is disputed by others - which I do not see as negating him as an opinion, merely as showing that his position is not conclusive, which I readily agree!). So Betech was being dishonest and distracting, as per his usual methodology.

    Betech wasn’t being dishonest. I understand that his style may seem frustrating at times but R’ Isaac is an academic. Academics are cautious by nature. If an opponent brings up an argument, the first thing any academic will do is challenge it (I know this by experience!). He will ask for explanations. He will ask for sources. He will ask for experiments. He will ask for verification. He will ask for statistical studies. I know his mode of debate can sometimes seem evasive but he doesn’t mean to evade. It’s a style of debate, that’s it. And it’s one that most academics are perfectly comfortable with.

    Why was Betech harping on this minor, irrelevant point?

    Frankly, at this point I could give a hoot. Now it’s you and me. Let’s leave Betech out of it and lets you and me have a discussion.

    Because he saw it as enabling him to avoid dealing with the primary point of my letter: that the rabbit cannot be the shafan, since it doesn't live in Israel and doesn't habitually hide in rocks.

    I don’t know what Isaac “saw” or didn’t see but I see your primary point as a very good one. I hope to respond shortly bi’ezras Hashem.

    Even if you want to posit that David and Shlomo had ruach hakodesh,

    I don’t know if this is what R’ Isaac posits but this will not be the direction I go in, so let’s dispense with this argument.

    that does not remotely help, for numerous reasons spelled out at…

    I don’t need the spelled out reasons. It doesn’t help because it doesn’t help, period. I concede. Let’s move on.

    In contrast to parashas Shemini, where the goal is to list animals with one kosher sign, the goal of Tehillim and Mishlei is to refer to a small animal that hides in rocks. When there is a local animal that does exactly that - and moreover, is associated with the ibex that is mentioned in the same verse - it is just plain silly to propose that they instead decided to refer to a distant, unfamiliar animal that doesn't usually do that.

    This is obviously a very reasonable argument. But it is not being made in a vacuum. Both you and Isaac have strong arguments in support of your respective theses. Betech’s strongest argument is that the hyrax is not a ruminant, and your strongest argument is that currently it is the hyrax that hides in rocks next to the ibex and therefore best fits the superficial description of the verses in Tanach.

    How to decide between these two approaches? I have a mehalech. I hope to write a post tomorrow clarifying the issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to clarify that I agree that the formulation of the sentence in my letter to Dialogue regarding the possibility of merycism was not very good.

      I knew you felt that way! Unfortunately some of your supporters decided to bash R’ Isaac unnecessarily

      R. Coffer, I'm so happy to see that you are doing such a good job of sticking to your high-minded principles about referring to others in a negative manner.

      when this clarification was really all he was looking for.

      Hmmm... Let's see. Here are two ways of approaching the issue:

      Approach #1: "R. Slifkin, I think that you are overstating your sources. The sources you mention support the possibility of Hyrax merycism while your language seems to indicate that they have definitely seen hyrax merycism. You really should clarify your statement."

      Approach #2: "Additionally, there is no need now that I would try to operate as a “religious polemicist”, since as everyone knows, you have publicly shared your pictures eating locust which reveal your hallachic standards... I would like to know how you explain the Gemara in Sanhedrin which seems to declare you Apikorsim. We can then move forward. ... So, unless you clearly specify the page number where the information you said was in your book is indeed found, we have a sad case of an explicit lie.".

      Yes, you have a lot of evidence. Presumably, we'll see Dr. Betech correct his post now, since that is all he was looking for.

      Delete
    2. Betech pretended to have absolutely no idea as to who I was referring to, even though he obviously knew at least one of the people that I had in mind (Hendrichs), and merely disputed whether that was a legitimate source (on the grounds that Hendrichs is disputed by others - which I do not see as negating him as an opinion, merely as showing that his position is not conclusive, which I readily agree!). So Betech was being dishonest and distracting, as per his usual methodology.

      Betech wasn’t being dishonest. I understand that his style may seem frustrating at times but R’ Isaac is an academic. Academics are cautious by nature. If an opponent brings up an argument, the first thing any academic will do is challenge it (I know this by experience!). He will ask for explanations. He will ask for sources. He will ask for experiments. He will ask for verification. He will ask for statistical studies. I know his mode of debate can sometimes seem evasive but he doesn’t mean to evade. It’s a style of debate, that’s it. And it’s one that most academics are perfectly comfortable with.

      R. Coffer, this is completely inconsistent with your own assessment. You judged that R. Slifkin did not lie even before his response. Thus, according your own judgment, Dr. Betech, in this very thread, asserted something without evidence and thus was not cautious at all.

      Here are some other very non-academic behaviors:

      1) Accusing your opponent of dishonesty. This is something rarely done in academia, and then only when there is very conclusive evidence of fraudulent behavior (e.g. making up data).

      2) Dr. Betech, in this thread, speculates that Rabbits have lived in Israel, and give no evidence at all. If we was cautious, he would say "my theory implies that rabbits must have lived in Israel. The lack of evidence for this clearly is a count against my theory since I would want to be cautious and not assert anything without clear evidence."

      3) Dr. Betech simply discounts the conclusion of the Tchernov paper with no counter evidence by claiming that "I read the article you cited and I could not find a description of which measurements or method they used to distinguish between rabbit’s and hare’s fossils." So because he doesn't know their methodology and their conclusion conflicts with his preferred one, he sticks with his preferred one. If you are going to be careful, you need to do the opposite: doubt your own theories and give great credence to possible counter-arguments.

      Your statement is true in the following sense: Dr. Betech makes a claim, and then is very doubtful of any evidence against his claim. Unfortunately, this is leads to precisely the opposite of you are you claiming; this leads to making strong claims with very little doubt. This is not the ideal of the careful academic; this is the polar opposite.

      Delete
    3. In contrast to parashas Shemini, where the goal is to list animals with one kosher sign, the goal of Tehillim and Mishlei is to refer to a small animal that hides in rocks. When there is a local animal that does exactly that - and moreover, is associated with the ibex that is mentioned in the same verse - it is just plain silly to propose that they instead decided to refer to a distant, unfamiliar animal that doesn't usually do that.

      This is obviously a very reasonable argument. But it is not being made in a vacuum. Both you and Isaac have strong arguments in support of your respective theses. Betech’s strongest argument is that the hyrax is not a ruminant, and your strongest argument is that currently it is the hyrax that hides in rocks next to the ibex and therefore best fits the superficial description of the verses in Tanach.

      How to decide between these two approaches? I have a mehalech. I hope to write a post tomorrow clarifying the issue.


      I'm repeating myself, but this is not a zero-sum sporting event. It is not hyrax vs. rabbit with whoever can knock each other out winning. In fact there are at least 4 possibilities:

      1) Rabbit and Hyrax don't fit well. We don't know what Shafan is or perhaps it is something else.

      2) Both Rabbit and Hyrax seem to fit. We're not sure if it is either or perhaps neither.

      3) Rabbit fits very well. It is probably Rabbit.

      4) Shafan fits very well. It is probably Shafan.

      Since the we are dealing with historical evidence and not mathematics, and especially given the difficulty that none are ruminants, we are unlikely to have certainty, so actually those 4 points are along a whole continuum of possible judgements.

      So "deciding between approaches" is not an apt description.

      Betech’s strongest argument is that the hyrax is not a ruminant,

      This is *not* a strong argument for the rabbit, although it is certainly an argument against both hyrax and the rabbit. Neither are ruminants nor is the hare.

      Delete
    4. R. Coffer, are you still planning to post your new material?

      Delete
  25. As I make clear in my book, and the letter, and my blog, merycism is only a secondary possibility as to how to explain maaleh gerah;

    Maybe so. But your letter was written in response to a very specific article. Said article leans heavily on the argument from re-mastication. The people reading your letter do not necessarily know everything you’ve written in your books and blogs. All they see is that “some zoologists” have “in fact” observed re-mastication. To the naïve mind, this clearly results in a serious undermining of the opposing thesis. Frankly, I can’t blame R’ Isaac for being irritated.

    For the "nth" time, No one is blaming Dr. Betech for irritation. It is the accusations of fraud, apostasy, and sinfulness. But I guess that is the way of careful academics, and we peons must put up with such, if we want to sit at their feet and draw from their wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  26. David Ohsie,

    Kindly provide me with your email address.

    Simcha Coffer

    ReplyDelete
  27. One of his main arguments in support of the rabbit is that it re-digests its food, as opposed to the hyrax. Along comes Reb Nosson and blithely responds that “Some zoologists, however, have observed that hyraxes do in fact regurgitate small quantities of food for remastication”.

    This is incorrect in two ways:

    1) There are two parts to the letter. The first part of the letter attacks the identification of Shafan with rabbit. This attack stands on its own. No attack on the hyrax theory can resurrect the rabbit theory unless you answer the questions posed in the first part of the letter. The rabbit doesn't "win by default" if you can eliminate the hyrax. Unfortunately, Dr. Betech has provided no answer at all for these questions.

    2) Cecotrophy is not an argument in favor of the rabbit. The rabbit, hare and hyrax all run into a difficulty that they are not ruminants. Dr. Betech tries to answer this question using "cecotrophy" as a secondary possible meaning for "maaleh gerah". This certainly is not an argument *for* the rabbit, but only can be used as a possible partial answer to a mismatch, if other signs indicate strongly that Shafan is rabbit.

    ReplyDelete
  28. 3) Dr. Betech simply discounts the conclusion of the Tchernov paper

    I need to correct my own statement here. I cannot myself say that I am enough of an expert to even say what the Tchernov paper concludes just by reading the abstract. The sentence in the abstract seems clear, but certainly I could be misreading it. I'm relying here on basic reading skill + the fact that both R. Slifkin and Dr. Betech seem to agree that this is what it means.

    ReplyDelete
  29. David Ohsie,

    Hmmm... Let's see. Here are two ways of approaching the issue:

    David: With all due respect, my comments were directed to Rabbi Slifkin, not you. He doesn’t need your assistance. He’s quite capable of defending himself. Why don’t you leave well enough alone for a bit. If RNS chooses not to respond, you can jump in and take his place. But for Heaven’s sake, give the man a day or two to respond!

    ReplyDelete
  30. David: With all due respect, my comments were directed to Rabbi Slifkin, not you. He doesn’t need your assistance. He’s quite capable of defending himself. Why don’t you leave well enough alone for a bit. If RNS chooses not to respond, you can jump in and take his place. But for Heaven’s sake, give the man a day or two to respond!

    I'm sure that he can respond here, but given the topic of the and content of the post and indeed the purpose and tone of the blog as a whole, it seems unlikely that this would be a forum he would frequent. Anyhow, I was not answering for R. Slifkin; I was just answering because I'm interested in hearing if you have new insight to shed on the topic. While I originally came for the purpose that we've discussed, I now want to hear if you have some substantive points.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David Ohsie, I would like to see you debate a topic without quoting the person you are responding to. Are you capable of such? It would seem you use quotes in counter responses as end not as a means. It is hardly scholarly to debate every sentence of your opponent and pick each word apart that he writes. This is pseudo scholarship at best and intentional distortion at worst.
      Sometimes a thought or idea can be wrong - even though it can’t be proved conclusively incorrect. It's always possible for falsehood to hide behind some speck of truth and formulate an irrefutable thought!

      David, you hide behind grains of truth to present your mangled falsehood. You do this on R’ Slifkin’s blog as well. You pervert the truth and have no agenda other than distorting truth in place of falsehood. You are a non believer in God and his Torah. You have displayed this rather openly in many posts. Your disrespect for The Talmud Rishonim and Rabbi’s is despicable and nothing short of outrageous. “Vlamasheenem Al Tihee Sikvah” may your treacherous lies and distortion of the words of the Holy Sages and Rabbis cease. “Vhcol Harisha K’Rega Toiyvaid” may your wickedness and evil intentions cease to exist.

      Delete
  31. Replies
    1. Dr. Isaac Betech,

      Please don't engage with R' Slifkin and David Oshie, they are evil people who seek to pervert and distort the words of our Holy sages and all that is sacred to us as Torah Jews. They are non believers in the Torah of Hashem. Their very goal is to distort the Torah to the point of denial of the Hashem himself. They engage in useless debate for the sake of discrediting and distorting the statements of the true followers of Hashem and his Torah.

      Delete