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In yesterday's parasha, we read not to eat rabbit meat because it chews its cud (Vayikra 11:6):

"ואת הארנבת כי מעלת גרה "

Today, we know this is not true. I am curious as to how religious Jews explain this discrepancy today. If the Torah was referring to a different animal, then shouldn't modern rabbit be kosher?

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    Please read the entire verse. The reason Arnevet meat isn't Kosher is because it doesn't have split hooves, which is true. – Double AA Apr 3 '16 at 13:57
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  • Land animals are kosher only when they both chew it's cud and have split hooves. – Dude Apr 3 '16 at 14:08
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    "Camel Hare Hyrax" talks about this one - the hare DOES chew its cud, but in an unconventional way - it re-chews it's pellets, redigesting its food. – Isaac Kotlicky Apr 3 '16 at 15:12
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There are people who translate arneves as the llama and state that just like the camel it is not kosher because it chews its cud but does not have spolit hooves as I explain at Are Llamas Kosher?

However, following those who translate arneves as "rabbit" we get: You have it backwards. The animal translated as "rabbit" (arneves) is ma-alei geira but has no split hooves. The rabbit does not have multiple stomachs and is not a ruminant, but it does "rechew" its food. Thus it is "Maalei Geirah" (which is a kosher sign) but does not have split hooves - which is why it is not kosher. An interesting point is that many people did not know this until it was published in Watership Down in 1978 or so.

DO RABBITS CHEW THE CUD? Leonard R. Brand Chairman, Department of Biology Loma Linda University

Some herbivorous animals consume part of their own feces, thus recovering fermentation products that have passed through the digestive tract. This process of reingestion of feces occurs in many rodents (Thacker and Brandt 1955) and in all genera of hares and rabbits (Carles 1977; Hamilton 1955; Kirkpatrick 1956; Lechleitner 1957; McBee 1971; Myers 1955; Southern 1940; Watson 1954; Watson and Taylor 1955). Reingestion of feces is an especially well-developed practice in Lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) and is important for their adequate nutrition.

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The truth of the matter seems to lay in the science. Like all animals which are “non kosher”, rabbits can be dangerous to eat. During the warmer months rabbits carry certain parasites which are dangerous to humans. Not having a split hoof is an external identifier of an unclean/unsafe animal to eat.

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