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26 votes

Why does Torah consider Bats as birds?

Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin, director of The Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh has an article on this in his Rationalist Judaism blog, here. The paragraph that probably answers your ...
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25 votes
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Is it acceptable under kashrut to eat tyrannosauridae meat?

No. No matter how they would be classified: Fish: Scales could not be removed without ripping skin. Reptile, insect, animal (Behema/Chaya): Neither a grasshopper, nor split hooves. See picture below. ...
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22 votes
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Why are there no fish korbanot?

The Midrash Tanchuma (Vayikra 1:8) asks your question: ולמה קריבין קרבן מן העוף ומן הכבשים ומן הצאן ומן העזים ולא מן הדגים, שנאמר, [ו] אם מן העוף עולה קרבנו, אלא בשביל שהם בשר ודם כמו האדם ויוצאין ...
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  • 6,097
22 votes

Were some Jews transformed to monkeys for violating the sabbath?

No. Prof. Eliezer Segal, in an essay entitled "Monkey Business," discussing the unfortunate contemporary phenomenon of "Islamicist clerics" preaching that Jews, generally, are descended from apes and ...
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20 votes

Why does Torah consider Bats as birds?

The Passuk (Vayikra 11,13) uses the phrase ואת אלה תשקצו מן העוף לא יאכלו when describing all birds bats and insects The word עוף essentially means "a being that flies" This is proven from Tehilim ...
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18 votes
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Can a service dog enter a Temple during service?

Yes. The Jerusalem Talmud (Tractate Megillah) quotes Rav Imi telling his assistant that if a scholar should visit and need to sleep in the Synagogue, he should let him, and allow him to bring ...
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  • 9,643
17 votes

Did the brothers know about the snakes and scorpions in the pit?

The Maharal (Gur Aryeh ibid) explains that the Gemara which says that a person will surely die in a pit full of snakes and scorpions is only when it is full of snakes and scorpions, but this pit just ...
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14 votes
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Chad Gadya: The price of a kid goat

A colleague of mine reminded me that there is actually a Gemara in Berachos 44b that describes a young healthy goat as a 'bar zuza', meaning it costs one zuz. He explained that although Chad Gadya ...
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  • 451
13 votes

What is the problem with dogs?

There are a few explanations, all of which (except one) can be found by looking at the following commentaries on the verse cited in the question, Deut. 23:19: Ibn Ezra thought that dogs were simply ...
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13 votes
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Impure baseball cap?

Excrement and urine of a live animal (and in fact anything except an entire limb from a live animal) are not ritually impure, and thus don't affect your hat. (Rambam Avot HaTumah 2:3) As an aside, ...
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13 votes
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Can 'cruelty to animals' render an animal not kosher?

R Moshe Feinstein (Even HaEzer IV:92:2) is against raising veal in inhumane ways. He doesn't say the meat is not kosher (see e.g., this answer on MY). Nevertheless, some (e.g., R Moshe Dovid Tendler, ...
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  • 43.5k
12 votes

Werewolf in the Torah

Despite this being an old question, it recently came up in conversation, so I'll take a stab at it. Three of these sources (the exception being the Chizkuni, which I found myself) come from a footnote ...
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12 votes

Is it acceptable under kashrut to eat tyrannosauridae meat?

I would think not, because they probably wouldn't be kosher animals. The basic requirements for being a kosher animal are laid out in Deuteronomy 14:6: וְכָל בְּהֵמָה מַפְרֶסֶת פַּרְסָה וְשֹׁסַעַת ...
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  • 18.7k
11 votes

Is kopi luwac (civet excreted coffee beans) kosher?

I sent this question a couple of years ago to the OU. They sent me back: Thank you for contacting the OU. This has differing opinions among poskim. Some view it as yotzai min ha'tamei ...
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11 votes

Why is Bil'am not surprised that his mule is talking to him?

In otzros hatorah page 263 on "vayiftach hashem es pi haton" rabenu bechayeh is quoted asking that Bilam should have been amazed but he was not. He should have marveled at this wonder. However because ...
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  • 271
11 votes
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Are Llamas Kosher?

Llamas are members of the Camelidae family, and as such do not have split hooves, only two large toenails, as well as a soft padding behind them. An essential element in an animal being kosher is ...
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  • 2,412
10 votes

Could Yonah's "whale" have been a whale?

The only Rishon I saw who identifies the Dag Gadol in his commentary is [R Eliezer of Beaugency to Yonah 2:1][1], and he identifies it as a "בַלְיינְא וכיוצא בו", which is a baleine (etc.) in French (...
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10 votes
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Where did the "a cat will always be a cat" story about the Rambam come from?

This folktale is quite popular throughout European and Asian cultures, and predates Jewish oral accounts. In Folktales of the Jews, Volume 1: Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion, folklorist Dov Noy ...
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  • 10.7k
10 votes

According to Kabbalah is it okay to have a pet dove?

It's one of the stipulations of Rabbi Yehuda Hachassids ethical will: לא יגדל אדם תורים ובני יונה בתוך ביתו (ע' סי' תתרל"ח). לפי שהבית אשר יגדלו בה או ימותו בניו או לא יהיה לו זרע. One should ...
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  • 39.9k
9 votes
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Is the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly mentioned anywhere in Rabbinic literature?

Iyov (27:18) discusses the ephemeral nature of a wicked person's success: בָּנָה כָעָשׁ בֵּיתוֹ וּכְסֻכָּה עָשָׂה נֹצֵר Translation (Mechon-Mamre): He buildeth his house as a moth,1 and as a ...
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  • 16.3k
9 votes

Snakes talking?

It's pretty hard to ask any questions from the first two chapters of Genesis, considering both the esoteric nature of both the topic and the fact that the world seems to have rather different back ...
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9 votes
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Suckling directly from a kosher animal

We learn in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 328:33 סימן שכח - דין חולה בשבת: לג גּוֹנֵחַ, מֻתָּר לִינֹק חָלָב מֵהַבְּהֵמָה, דְּבִמְקוֹם צַעְרָא לֹא גָּזְרוּ רַבָּנָן. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁאִם אֵין לוֹ ...
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9 votes

What does it mean that Hashem plays with the Leviatan?

The Talmud gets it from Tehillim 104:26: שָׁם, אֳנִיּוֹת יְהַלֵּכוּן; לִוְיָתָן, זֶה-יָצַרְתָּ לְשַׂחֶק-בּוֹ. "There go the ships; there is leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to sport therein." In ...
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9 votes

What does it mean that Hashem plays with the Leviatan?

IIRC, the Maharal, in Beer Hagoleh ch. 4, explains that the Leviathan is a symbol for the world's great materialism (as it's an enormous mass of flesh-life), and 'playing' is something that may be a ...
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9 votes

Feeding my friend's animal on Shabbas

The Biur Halacha on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 324:11 sv "ויוני ביתות" writes that since the animal belongs to a Jew, and the animal does not eat from hefker, and the owner is allowed to feed the ...
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9 votes

Did Adam have intercourse with animals?

There is disagreement about this among the commentators. Here is a quote from the Artscroll Rashi Chumash Bereishis 2:23 footnote 4: Divrei Dovid...says that this prohibition [to have relations ...
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  • 6,375
9 votes

Source that tzaar baalei chayyim only applies to kosher animals?

This is incorrect. Examples given include loading and unloading a donkey as we see in Tzaar Baalei Chayim Thus, the halacha applies to all animals In Shemot, we are told to help him unload: “If you ...
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  • 41.9k
8 votes

What did the Jews' animals in the desert eat?

The Yalqut Reubeni (here, s.v. מה) addresses this question and quotes from a collection ‘Sode Raza’ (attributed to student(s) of R. Yehudah HaChasid) that the layer of dew would bring forth vegetables ...
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  • 11.8k
8 votes

Explanations from חז״ל for Noah's ark?

The Ramban deals with this and points out that it must be a miracle. A WHOLE NEW WORLD and Ramban on the Torah: The Ark’s Size both show the explanation of this. God’s Instructions to Noah outline ...
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  • 41.9k
8 votes

Are there still those who obey the mitzvah of Ma'aser Behemah?

The Mitzva applies in all places and at all times, even today and even outside of Israel. (Bechorot 9:1) However, since nowadays we can't offer the animals as Korbanot and we'd have to wait for the ...
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