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This is NOT Purim Torah.

Dolfinim can give birth from humans. What are dolfinim? Says Rav Yehudah, mermaids.1

Bechoros 8a. Translation follows Rashi.

Whether there are actually mermaids is not for this discussion. Let's assume that there are.

  1. Are mermaids considered animals that such a union would be a violation of bestiality, or would it be permissible?

  2. Let's say that a human went ahead and did it anyway, and the mermaid gave birth to some weird mermaid-human crossbreed. Is the offspring considered human, mermaid, both, or neither?

In other words: is a mermaid human? Is the offspring of a human and a mermaid human?2


1Rashi describes a half-human half-fish creature called "sereine" in the French of his day. Sounds like a mermaid to me.

2Possibly relevant is the argument in Chullin 79a between R' Meir and the Chachamim regarding mating a mule with a mule. Granted that no viable offspring will be produced, will there be an issue of kelayim?

According to R' Meir, we go after the mothers: if both of them had a horse for a mother, for instance, it is permissible, while if one had a horse as a mother, and the other had a donkey as a mother, it is forbidden. According to the Chachamim, it is an independent species; we don't care about the mothers - it will always be permissible.

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  • consider asking the two questions separately. – mevaqesh Mar 15 '17 at 19:21
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    @mevaqesh I did consider that and ultimately decided against it. I figured the two questions were related enough that it was worth asking them together. If a mermaid is considered human, that answers the offspring's status, and if it's not considered human, it may possibly lead to some insight on the offspring's status. – DonielF Mar 15 '17 at 20:04
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    Of course the simplest explanation is a change of a single letter: hadolphinin parin verabin KIvnei adam -- "dolphins mate LIKE humans" (vs. "with"). I.e. they are mammals! That's something today's scientists would agree with. – Shalom Mar 15 '17 at 23:44
  • @Shalom Yeah, of course. The question is presupposing that you learn like Rashi. – DonielF Mar 15 '17 at 23:51
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Rashi to Sanhedrin 58a on the prohibition of bestiality:

שנעשה לבשר אחד - שזרע יוצא מהם שנעשה בשר האם והאב אחד בו:

Bestiality (for non-Jews) is forbidden by the verse "and they shall be one flesh" (Bereishis 2:24). One cannot become one flesh with an animal in the sense that he cannot bear children with it. It would seem that a mermaid would not be included, as one is able to become "one flesh" with a mermaid. Indeed, Adam mated with demons during the 130 years he and Chavah were separated, and he spawned forth spirits, demons, and liliths during that time (Eruvin 18b).

Which leads me to my next point. He didn't spawn forth human offspring, or even half-human offspring. He gave birth to demons. Perhaps we can say the same here: just as mating with a demon produces demons, mating with a mermaid would produce mermaids.

Of course, make sure to ask your local Orthodox Rabbi if this ever becomes of concern.

  • Adam did not relate with demons...he created demons against his will because he didn't have relations with his wife. Also, what could a LOR permit in this case(kind of a funny disclaimer). BTW, you're in Israel? – chacham Nisan Oct 20 '18 at 18:32
  • @chachamNisan 1. Where do you get that understanding of the Gemara? 2. That’s the point. Glad you like my sense of humor. 3. No, no I am not. Wish I was - wish we all were - but no, I am not in Israel, nor was I at the time this was posted. – DonielF Oct 20 '18 at 18:42
  • That's the pshat of the gemara...how else do you translate ואמר ר' ירמיה בן אלעזר כל אותן השנים שהיה אדם הראשון בנידוי הוליד רוחין ושידין ולילין שנאמר {בראשית ה-ג} ויחי אדם שלשים ומאת שנה ויולד בדמותו כצלמו מכלל דעד האידנא לאו כצלמו אוליד and then the gemara states regarding the above statement ההוא בשכבת זרע דחזא לאונסיה. There's no statement that says he related with demons; only that he birthed them. The gemara clears it up by stating because of all the years he saw keri due to ones of poresh m'ishto. – chacham Nisan Oct 21 '18 at 9:40
  • There's one crazy guy that says Adam had relations with demons and beings that existed before Adam was created; but he's crazy and probably the only one who says such a thing(among other crazy things). Don't believe it...and he bases it on a Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim. As they say in Yiddish; shtus! 3) What's holding you back? – chacham Nisan Oct 21 '18 at 9:42

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