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I have been told that there are Pirushim on the Torah who speak of werewolves.

Can anyone locate them?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The (rarely-seen) commentary of Rabbeinu Ephraim ben Shimshon on the Torah states that Benjamin was a werewolf; the fear that he would die should he leave his father Jacob is that he would turn back into a werewolf and be killed in self-defense by some person. Make of it what you will. Hat tip to Yitzhak of Bein Din L'Din. (See link for more.)

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I wonder (a little facetiously) how Rabbeinu Ephraim would explain the berachos of the other shevatim. Would he say that Yissachar had long ears, or Dan a forked tongue, etc.? (Also, this gives a whole new meaning to Shifra and Puah's argument to Pharaoh, כי חיות הנה!) –  Alex Feb 1 '11 at 20:03
    
I don't see it at hebrewbooks.org/20294. –  msh210 Feb 3 '11 at 0:18
    
@msh210: looks like you want this version of the sefer: books.google.com/books/about/… –  Menachem Aug 15 '11 at 3:15
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@msh210: Natan Slifkin posted a pdf of the relevant pages from the Rabbeinu Ephraim here: rationalistjudaism.com/2011/12/was-eisav-vampire.html --- direct link to pdf - zootorah.com/RationalistJudaism/RabbeinuEphraimWerewolves.pdf –  Menachem Jan 20 '12 at 4:05
    
@Matt did you see the text at Bein Din L'Din? Pretty clear. כשיפרד מאביו יהפך לזאב לעוברי דרכים והיה כל מוצאו יהרגהו –  Shalom yesterday

Despite this being an old question, it recently came up in conversation, so I'll take a stab at it. Three of these sources (the exception being the Chizkuni, which I found myself) come from a footnote to Eliezer Brodt's article on ברכות הראייה printed in Yeshurun vol. 26

There are indeed a few commentaries that mention werewolves:

  1. Rashi, in his commentary to Iyov 5:23, explains that חית השדה there means 'gerusah', which, according to this scholarly blog post quoting the Otzar Haloazim no. 4208 means 'werewolf'. Eliezer Brodt, however, believed that this is a misprint in Rashi and in fact might contradict what he writes elsewhere. (I myself find this translation hard to believe anyway, due to Rashi's use of this word in Koheles 12:11 to mean 'round heads')

  2. Chizkuni to Beraishis 16:12 explains that Yishmael was destined to be a פרא אדם, which, according to one explanation, is a werewolf (at least according to the footnote in Moshe Menachem Aharon's edition, pg 88)

  3. R. Menachem Tzioni, at the end of Parshas Noach, writes that the men of the dor haflagah (those who participated in the Tower of Babel) were punished by being turned into werewolves, among other things

  4. R. Yehudah HaChassid, in Sefer Chassidim no. 464 (pg. 318 in Margolios edition), also mentions werewolves (and dragons, etc.) and how to avoid them

  5. Rabbeinu Efraim, in his commentary on the Torah (49:27), compares Binyamin to a werewolf, and he also discusses the creation of werewolves in his comments to Beraishis 2:28. In his comment to Beriashis 44:29, Rabbienu Efraim actually posits, according to one interpretation, that Binyamin actually was a werewolf, and this fairly shocking claim is noted by this blog author, as well as by R. Slifkin, here.

  6. R. Moshe Taku in the fragment we have of Ksav Tamim apparently mentions werewolves and their category in creation, though I haven't yet looked at this source myself

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the strya he mentions there and the next couple of simanim sounds somewhat like a vampiress. –  user6591 yesterday
    
And here we go. Strigoi is a vampire sorcerer whatnot. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strigoi –  user6591 yesterday
    
@user6591 actually, I take it back. I now think that Rabbeinu Efraim does actually call Binyamin a werewolf, just not in the place that I thought, it's in Vayigash 44:29. I still think such an explanation is ludicrous, but hey, the Chassidei Ashkenaz said crazy things –  Matt yesterday
    
Ha. I see it. You're right:) Something off topic that hit me from what he writes in Vayichi with the whole wolf/beis hamikdosh comparison was the cohen's daughter saying Lucas Lucas. –  user6591 yesterday
    
Talking about werewolfs isn't worse than chazzal talking about mermaids. This is why agadata is taken with a grain of salt. –  user6591 yesterday

Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid talks about a werewolf and another type of being.

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There is a Christian belief that at the end of Nevuchadnetzar's life he turned into a werewolf, however I have never seen any Jewish Perush saying so.

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Depends on how you interpret what happened to him in Daniel ch. 4, I guess. He definitely became animal-like for "seven periods" (years?); but does that mean that he actually turned into an animal, or that he had a human body but the mentality of an animal (sort of like a feral child)? –  Alex Feb 1 '11 at 15:04
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My understanding of a werewolf is that it also changes back into a human. That would not match Nevuchadnetzar who became animal like and stayed animal like. –  Gershon Gold Feb 1 '11 at 17:03
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...until the seven periods were up; then he recovered his human nature. –  Alex Feb 1 '11 at 19:59
    
however not constantly changing –  Gershon Gold Feb 1 '11 at 20:25
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Meam Loez where? –  Gershon Gold Feb 2 '11 at 0:18

Besides the reference to Rabbi Slifkin's general post on werewolves here is a more recent post of his were he continues the discussion - http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2011/12/was-rachel-imeinu-killed-by-werewolf.html. He also references a good post by the seforim blog (see note 9) which continues the discussion

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An ironic seforim blog entry to post, don't you think @Alex? –  Double AA May 13 '12 at 20:43

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