Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shemini, Vayikra 11:3. Kosher Ham– When Pigs Fly.

The Medrash Tanchuma here (brought by Rabbeinu Bachaya here in psukim 4-7) says an interesting thing: the chazir will become muttar “l’osid lovo,” that the pig will become kasher "le'asid lavo." (“Le’asid lavo” might mean after Mashiach comes, or it might mean the time when the rules of nature are repealed and the world will become metaphysical.)

Rabbeinu Bachaya says that a literal reading is only how the “hamon” understand it, but he holds it is not meant literally at all. Instead, it is a metaphor for son’ei Yisroel (like Eisav, "yecharse'menu chazir mi'ya'ar) who will become our friends. Others who understand it allegorically are the Baal Haturim here, the Ritvoh in Kiddushin 49a, and the Recanti. According to Rabbeinu Bachaya, the rest of the meforshim are just from the hamon.

The Satmerer Rov, in his Vayoel Moshe here, brings the Ramban in Bechukosai (Vayikro 26:6) that says that before the sin of Odom, animals were more refined and there were no carnivores, and when Mashiach comes, they will revert to their original perfected state. Thus, we can say that their physical appearance will change– herbivores don’t need sharp claws or canine teeth. The Satmerer applies this to the idea of their becoming kosher– that they will become kosher because they will develop simanei kashrus. This seems to imply that if biologists would develop a pig that chewed its cud, or a camel with split hooves, they would be kasher. The problem is that besides the halacha of simanei kashrus, there is also a rule that “hayotzei min hatamei, tamei,” that an animal that is generated from a non-kosher animal is also non-kosher, irrespective of its signs of kashrus– that kashrus is not only intrinsic, it is inherent. However, he brings the Ohr Hachaim in 11:7 here that says that the phrase “v’hu geiroh lo igor” is a tnai: their issur is only as long as they have the one but not both simonim, but if they develop the second simon kashrus they will be kosher. According to this, while indeed a pig that chews its cud would be kosher, a camel with split hooves would not be kosher. The Chasam Sofer in the end of Re’ei also uses this derech to explain the Tanchuma.

Note that this Tanchuma is not the only occasion that Chazal allude to Chazerim being muttar: See the Gemora in Chulin 17 on the passuk in Parshas Vo’eschanan, Dvorim 6:11, Batim m’lei’im kol tuv, which says that during the first fourteen years of Yehoshua’s occupation of Israel, everything they found that had belonged to the Kena’anim was kosher, afilu kadli d’chaziri, even ham. But remember that Reb Meir Simcha there in his Meshech Chochma says that although it was muttar to eat whatever they found, those who did eat ham will suffer ‘timtum haleiv,” spiritual necrosis. He thus applies to Katli D’chaziri the concept found by Y’fas To’ar, a hetter that applies only in wartime, and which, despite the hetter, carries grave spiritual risk. So although the two Chazals, the Tanchuma about the times of Mashiach, and the Gemara in Chulin, are superficially similar, according to Reb Meir Simcha there is a clear distinction; even he would not say that the Tanchuma means that the hetter of chazeirim l’asid lavo carries any spiritual risk.

This discussion is also relevant to the gnostic and antinomian ideologies that tend to be associated with messianic movements. Some have interpreted the Chazal about the three epochs: two thousand years of tohu vavohu; two thousand years of Torah, beginning with Matan Torah; two thousand years of the Yemos Hamoshiach, which will be finally followed by 'that world which is wholly Shabbos, as indicating that the need for a life of Torah is only necessary when there is a need to balance some countervailing force. Once the yemos hamoshiach have commenced, there would be no such need. In fact, these movements sometimes drew strength from the tantalizing possibility of fealty to Hashem through antinomian synthesis of kedusha and tumah, as Rav Yakov Emden pointed out when he attacked their use of certain parts of the Zohar. The idea that there is a relationship between the kochos hakedusha and the kochos hatumah, as implied by the stories of the relationship between the moshiach and the daughters of Lot, Yehuda and Tomor, Dovid and Bas Sheva, Shlomo and Na’ama, can be understood as indicating: a) a dynamic tension moving toward resolution, or; b) as paired forces moving toward synthesis, or; c) as equally excessive and inherently unstable results of the inability to maintain a middle path.

See also the Maharal (several hundred years before Hegel)in Gevuros Hashem 5, where he says that it was necessary that Avrohom incubate his kedusha in the seviva of, and as a scion of, Terach, as was the case for Klal Yisroel in Mitzrayim, Chizkiyahu from Ochoz, and Yoshiah from Amon. The Maharal says that this is necessary because rah and tov are both brios of Hashem and are necessary to create a perfect unity. As translated by Betzalel Naor in his introduction to “Kook Orot, ” (Aronson, 1993) it goes like this:
“It has been explained that though Terah was an idolater, the side of holiness issued from him, being as the opposites proceed from one another. The main explanation is, as we said, that it is seeming that the opposites proceed one from the other, because of the relation and synthesis they have together. The two opposites perfect a total which lacks nothing; it is a thing and its opposite, so nothing could be lacking. This is the concept of unity, which by definition is the all, outside of which there is nothing.....the farther apart the poles, the more seeming that they derive one from the other, for in this way they are the whole.”

Anyway, the point is that according to the mefarshim brought above, the rules aren’t going to change. If someone tells you that this or that minhag or halacha no longer applies because Mashiach is on his way or is here, just remember that this is not the first time you've heard this nonsense; we went through it with Shabsai Tzvi and the Frankists already.


  1. One SHtikle from Satmar one from Lubabitcher Very nice

  2. Hmm, I hadn't noticed that... I guess my house has many mansions too.

  3. General question about topics alluded to in this post.How can one hold that when Mosiach comes Mitzvos like Korbonos will no longer be observed if the Seder H'Tfilah costantly talks about going back to Yerushalayim and bringing Kornos again?

  4. Ceartin ones will exsist not all

  5. Regarding the belief that mitzvos will not be believed after Mashiach comes:

    1. I believe this is an error in its entirety. It stems from the Gemara in Niddah 61b, "mitzvos be'teilos le'asid lavo." The error is that this is an inquisitory, not a declarative, statement. The Gemara says that one may be buried in Shatnez. The Gemara asks, does that mean that "mitzvos be'teilos le'asid lavo?" The Gemara avoids the question by saying that there's another reason to allow shatnez shrouds; because "lameisim chafshi." Once a man dies, even after his resurrection the laws of the Torah do not apply to him.

    2. Rav Yakov Emden, in his notes in the back of the Gemara on Rosh Hashanna 29b, notes the contradiction that you brought up--that there are many examples of mitzvos done after Mashiach comes, notably, the Avodah. He answers that "le'asid lavo" does not mean "after Mashiach comes." It means the far future when life will become transcendent and metaphysical. But certainly, the coming of Mashi'ach does not mean the voiding of any mitzvah. (Except maybe "tzipisa li'yeshu'ah.")

  6. The fact that Rav Yakov Emden takes the statement seriously does not prove that it is the final opinion of the Gemara. Often, we ask about preliminary statements in the Gemara, asking how we could have thought x or y were true when they are contradicted by z. But in fact, the Gemara in Niddah does NOT make any final determination as to the legitimacy of the statement "mitzvos beteilos etc."