Thursday, January 24, 2019

Important updates on Torah and science regarding the Shafan (Chulin 59a)


Dear friends:
Tomorrow Chulin 59a will be studied on Daf Yomi.
On that page the shafan is mentioned, so we decided to post some news on this famous issue.

1. A few years ago we published the 1st edition of the book (292 pages):
"The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan" Torah and scientific research suggesting a solution.
(The book includes appendices on the Talmudic science-related statements about the fish's scales/fins and the reproductive biology of lice).
After all the new information found in the last years -which also includes new scientific information supporting our conclusions B"H- the book now has more than 1000 bibliographical Torah and scientific sources, more than 100 color illustrations and four indexes.
Now the 2nd expanded and completely revised edition (388 pages) is almost ready for printing.

2. The following is the English abstract of the book (also available on request in Hebrew):
The Torah included the shafan and the arnebet among the four non-kosher animals with only one kosher sign. Throughout the centuries, the usual translations of these terms were, respectively, rabbit and hare.
            Indeed, current science shows that all the characteristics Jewish classic literature attributes to these animals do occur in the rabbit[1] and the hare.[2]
            This publication will make the case that the Torah/Talmudic definition of “maaleh gerah” includes a qualified form of cecotrophy practiced by the rabbit and hare.
            The following essay B”H refutes different options (like the hyrax, the llama, the pika and the mouse-deer) suggested and published by some as the identity of the shafan. And additionally, it answers in a systematic approach, the published challenges to our conclusions regarding the identity of the shafan.
After extensive research, as presented in a comprehensive chapter (which analyzes the kangaroo and the capybara among other animals), we did not find any additional “min” (Torah-type creature) with only one kosher sign besides the four mentioned in the Torah, and we can recognize with admiration, today as always, that only the Master of the World could state this accurate information thousands of years ago.

3. A summarized edition of "The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan" in Hebrew (162 pages) is ready for printing.

4. Important modifications were made in Nov. 2018 ed. regarding the main translation for the Biblical Shafan as the rabbit in the Artscroll Gemara Schottenstein English Edition Talmud Bavli on Chulin 59a and also in the Hebrew Edition.

5. Rab Amitai Ben David shlit"a in his new 14th edition of the Sichat Chulin added important information which supports the translation of the Shafan as the rabbit. His new approach is widely explained in the approbation letter he gave to our book.

6. One of the chapters of the book explained six points of why the hyrax cannot be the Biblical Shafan. Lately we obtained the original translation of shafan as rabbit even in Ibn Janach and Rambam; therefore now a two-page article summarizing eight points is available here.
Also available in Hebrew here

7. The book "The Enigma of the Biblical Shafan" merited approbation letters written by many Gdole Yisrael, other Rabanim who are experts in these subjects and a scientist who specialized in rabbit biology.
New letters were added throughout the last years.
A document compiling all of them is available here.

Dr. Yitzchak Betech <>

[1] For example, the common rabbit, taxonomi­cally classified as Oryctolagus spp. or the Pronolagus spp.
[2] For example, the cape hare taxonomically classified as Lepus capensis or the brown hare (Lepus europaeus).