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What are the Shafan and Arneves (Leviticus 11:5-6)?

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mechon-mamre.org is your friend. – Isaac Moses Apr 16 '10 at 1:38

May I recommend an excellent book on the subject? The Camel, the Hare, and the Hyrax by Nosson Slifkin. One may disagree with his reasoning and conclusions but it is definitely the most thorough work on this issue.

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Seriously? The guy that they put in Herem! – Hacham Gabriel Mar 26 '12 at 1:38
It's informative to note who "they" were and why "they" don't like Slifkin. As far as I know, it has more to do with his views about "them" than it has to do with his study of biblical zoology. – Shemmy Mar 26 '12 at 1:47
Indeed, an excellent book. And I've had some run-ins on this topic and other topics with the people who helped organize the ban, and was not impressed, to say the least. – josh waxman Mar 26 '12 at 4:44
I spoke to a chavrusa of one Rosh Yeshiva who signed the ban and asked why the authors remarks were "minus". He told me that the remarks themselves were in the ballpark, but this Rosh yeshiva signed because of the way the author lightly dismissed scholars of great stature. – YDK Mar 26 '12 at 17:00
Not having read the book, it's Cherem status should not have anything to do with whether it accurately and honestly deals with the subject matter. – Yaakov Kuperman Mar 28 '12 at 4:35

It's pretty much the consensus that arneves is the hare (or rabbit - they're different species but are pretty closely related).

Various translators identify the shafan as another species of hare (or coney), or as a jerboa, or as a hyrax. The last one seems to be the most well-founded.

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@Vram: not in the same way as kosher animals, although they do re-digest their food after they've excreted it. R. Slifkin's book (mentioned in Yahu's answer) has an exhaustive discussion of this issue, including whether this can be made to fit with the words מעלה גרה. – Alex Feb 12 '12 at 23:54
Alex, did you mean to say these animals re-ingest what they excrete? Once the digested food has been excreted from the body there is no question that an animal which turns around and eats the excrement cannot be considered to be מעלה גרה . For that, the food cannot have been excreted. Or perhaps you meant something other than excreted? – Shemmy Mar 26 '12 at 1:53
@Shemmy, see here: "The hare excretes two types of feces. The first is waste, like most animals excrete, but the second type is made of soft balls that the hare eats and re-chews. This re-digestion of the food, called refection, is similar to ruminating but is done externally." (I was wrong about the hyrax: it doesn't do that. The same article - as well as R. Slifkin, the relevant extract of whose book is here - offer various possibilities on what מעלה גרה might mean as far as hyraxes.) – Alex Mar 26 '12 at 13:48

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