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Why do you make the Bracha Mishaneh Habriyos on seeing a monkey?

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And here I thought the question was going to be, "Why do some people rattle off berachos so fast that it sounds like a monkey chattering?" :) – Alex Jun 18 '10 at 15:29
Hello, Ishyehudi, and welcome to mi.yodeya! Thanks for your interesting and esoteric question in the realm of hilchos b'rachos. – WAF Jun 18 '10 at 19:37
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/29334 – msh210 Jun 13 '13 at 4:56
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The Mileches Shlomo on Kilayim (8:6) says the gemara in Sanhedrin says that the Dor HaMabul (generation of the flood) turned into monkeys and that is one of the reasons we make the bracha Mishaneh Habriyos translated- who changes the creations-on monkeys.

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I love this answer! Could you give me a page reference? – Yahu Jun 18 '10 at 20:49
On Mishnah 8:6. It's cited on p. 24 of Man and Beast by R' Natan Slifkin along with related sources. books.google.com/… – Isaac Moses Jun 21 '10 at 3:31
is the beracha just in remembrance of the miracle or that all monkeys were once humans? – ray Jun 12 '14 at 5:46
also, the gemora in sanhedrin 109 says the dor haflaga turned to monkeys not the door hamabul. is this an error in the mileches shlomo or is he basing it on something other than the gemora on sanhedrin – ray Jun 12 '14 at 8:12

The straightforward answer is that (at least in Talmudic times, to someone who had never seen them before), elephants and monkeys just struck people as so amazingly different, that a religious person's reaction would be:

Blessed are you God, King of the World, who makes such variety in creations!

Note that these are two of the most-intelligent animals on the earth's surface. (Let's leave dolphins out of this.) Rambam (Hilchos Eruvin 6:22) even writes about a trained monkey or elephant delivering a package. I always wondered whether the intelligence factor had something to do with their notability (and hence the bracha).

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YS, "daas" is "consciousness", the type possessed by a healthy adult human. Monkeys don't have that, but they're still more intelligent than most other animals, such as, let's say goats. Rambam was choosing the animals most-likely to be used as delivery vehicles, because they're smart, trainable, and walk on the ground. – Shalom Jun 18 '10 at 20:13
It goes to follow from the straightforward answer that if one lives in one of those places that monkeys are as common as squirrels are in much of the U.S. (or skunks are in Chicago!) then he would not make the Bracha! – Yahu Jun 18 '10 at 20:53

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