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According to the answers to Would a mermaid be kosher?, the Gemara and poskim apparently believed that mermaids exist, and would not be kosher.

So, if these mermaids and sirens exist, where would they be found? (Please do not tell me ♪ under the sea ♪.)

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Dr. Leiman writes on the mouse that is 'half-mouse-half-earth" that, (p.452):

"... it comes as no surprise that the rabbis discussed the status of a creature they had never seen, and one that modern scholarship would label as imaginary. The greatest scientists and historians of their day took its existence for granted. If so, its halakhic status needed to be discussed and clarified."

In the same articles Dr. Leiman quotes Sherira Gaon, Maimonides, Abraham Maimonides, and R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, all of whom admit that, to some degree, the Sages worked with the science and mathematics of their times, and that things they state in those fields should be considered in that vein.

Mermaid legends in the Near East began as far back as 1000 b.c.e. The Sages heard of such a creature, and felt that they needed to discuss it during this veterinary gloss in Bechorot.

So to answer the question, just because the Sages discuss a creature doesn't mean it exists, and can be found. It is possible that mermaids don't exist, and can't be found anywhere, and that the Sages were working with bad intel.

  • +1 That is a well-researched and well-thought-out article by Sid Z. Leiman that you linked to. – Mike Jan 30 '15 at 5:06
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    They were discussing halacha. Not whether mermaids really exist. Halacha on hypothetical situations is often discussed, it is likely these events never occurred. – CashCow Jan 30 '15 at 8:37
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    @CashCow what is the halachah that is being stated? they simply say that They reproduce like or with humans. There is not citation to Mishnah Torah or to Shulkhan Aruch, as is normally the case with Halachot: dafyomi.org/index.php?masechta=bechoros&daf=8a – Baby Seal Jan 30 '15 at 11:24
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The Gemara has a lot of philosophical discussion on what the halacha would be in a hypothetical situation that in reality probably never happened but is discussed for the sake of Torah and Emes.

So they were discussing the halacha of whether a mermaid is a kosher fish because it has fins and scales or whether it is a non-kosher mammal because it lacks the kosher signs of the cud and hoof.

They were expert in halacha, not science. Their halachic ruling is impeccable even if it would never actually apply in reality.

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    Giving examples of this discussion of hypothetical halachah would improve this answer. – Baby Seal Jan 30 '15 at 10:46
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    I am sure it would but I don't carry an encyclopedia around with me. – CashCow Jan 30 '15 at 10:49
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    I don't see how this answers the question? This gives some apologetics in case it turns out that there are no mermaids even though chazal thought there were. But that wasn't the question... – Double AA Jan 30 '15 at 18:31
  • Next you'll be asking where the Loch Ness Monster is. (In Loch Ness, of course, where else is he?). And does the Leviathan have fins and scales so is it kosher? – CashCow Feb 2 '15 at 9:44

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