I heard there is a Rambam that mentions that Aristotle ate Aiver Min HaChai. I am looking for both the source in the Rambam and any earlier sources that could have been the basis for this.

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    Where did you hear this? Including that information may help someone find you an answer.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:10
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    @DoubleAA: I doubt where I heard it would help anyone source it. If it would then perhaps I could source it myself. My daughters teacher mentioned this and I have never heard this previously nor could I find it anywhere. I was hoping someone could shed light on it. If anyone can find a source it would be appreciated. Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


According to this source, there is no source:

No discussion of Jewish attitudes toward Aristotle can be complete (not that this essay aspires to completeness in any event) without mention of the infamous, scurrilous "Rabbitstotle" legend of the great philosopher being caught devouring a live rabbit, and responding to his surprised observer that "I am (or: 'this is') not Aristotle"; but although this story is quite widespread in contemporary frum circles, I have yet to locate any source for it whatsoever, even an unreliable one, and I once (reasonably discreetly) walked out of a lecture by a very prominent speaker in frustration at his confident assertion of this libel (or one of its variants) as fact. This ridiculous anecdote has even been attributed (comment #46 to this article) to, of all people, Rambam (!)...

In a comment on that post, a reader suggests:

Perhaps the "Rabbitstotle" legend of the great philosopher being caught devouring a live rabbit,has been confused with the well documented story of Nevuchadnetzar being caught by Tzikiyahu Hamelech doing the same type of act. See: Nedarim (65a), Midrash Tanchuma (Va'eschanan, 1), Ben Sira (II).

Interestingly, Abraham Epstein writes that the ארנבת was sacred in Greek culture because it was associated with Aphrodite or Venus, and he cites Pliny as writing that one who eats its meat for seven days will acquire beauty. Looking at Pliny's Natural History, I found the following:

Cato thought that to take hare as food is soporific, and a popular belief is that it also adds charm to the person for nine days, a flippant pun, but so strong a belief must have some justification.

Wikipedia provides some context:

Herodotus, Aristotle, Pliny and Claudius Aelianus all described the rabbit as one of the most fertile of animals. It thus became a symbol of vitality, sexual desire and fertility. The hare served as an attribute of Aphrodite and as a gift between lovers.

  • Does anyone know to where in Ben Sira he refers? I don't see anything in Chapter 2.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:20
  • I assume he is referring to this hebrewbooks.org/…
    – wfb
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:36
  • He's referring to the primary nusach of the Alphabet of Ben Sira, which you can read here: daat.ac.il/daat/hasfarim/alfa-bensira1.PDF. The relevant passage is on p4.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:38
  • I've often heard a version that doesn't involve eating a rabbit, just generic immoral behavior. Is it clear that this version derives from the rabbit story, or did the rabbit story perhaps evolve from the generic version via conflation with the Nevuchadnetzar story?
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 2:22
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    @MichoelR See this story where Aristotle attempted to seduce Alexander the Great's wife. hebrewbooks.org/…
    – chortkov2
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 21:15

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