Existential Questions and Casuistry*

*in its original, non-pejorative meaning: “The resolving of moral problems by the application of theoretical rules.”
 Ecumenical version
Is it true that Praying Mantises are not kosher because they don’t wear phylacteries when they prey?

Tribal (in-house version)
Is it true that Praying Mantises are not kosher because they don’t wear Tefillin when they prey?
And the very significant corollaries, of concern not only in the most observant quarters:
Assuming all other halachic requirements are satisfied,
1. Does the PM have to be wearing Tefillin in order for  meal to be kosher?
2.  In the absence of a good bib and in the interest of cleanliness and, hence, godliness, may the PM dispense with the Talith in the absence of a nearby, dry cleaner or laundromat?
3.  Where are the PM’s shoulders located for the proper wearing of the Talith, if the Talith is not to be draped over the PM’s head?
4.  Where is an observant PM to hide ze’s fringes?
The answer might be in Leviticus, c. 11, versus 20 & onwards. Or not.
 20 All winged swarming things that go upon all fours are a detestable thing unto you. 21 Yet these may ye eat of all winged swarming things that go upon all fours, which have jointed legs above their feet, wherewith to leap upon the earth; 22 even these of them ye may eat: the locust after its kinds, and the bald locust after its kinds, and the cricket after its kinds, and the grasshopper after its kinds. 23 But all winged swarming things, which have four feet, are a detestable thing unto you. 24 And by these ye shall become unclean; whosoever toucheth the carcass of them shall be unclean until even[ing]. 25 And whosoever beareth aught of the carcass of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even[ing].
20 And all winged creatures that creep, which go upon four feet, are abominations to you. 21 But these ye shall eat of the creeping winged animals, which go upon four feet, which have legs above their feet, to leap with on the earth. 22 And these of them ye shall eat: the caterpillar and his like, and the attacus and his like, and the cantharus and his like, and the locust and his like. 23 Every creeping thing from among the birds, which has four feet, is an abomination to you. 24 And by these ye shall be defiled; every one that touches their carcases shall be unclean till the evening.

 

20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. 21 Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; 22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. 23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

And, to update the texts, a colleague, clearly in possession of one of the NURVs of the Old Testament – New Unusually Revised Versions – noted
Here’s what Leviticus 11, 23-25 has to say on the matter:
21   But you may eat certain insects that have wings and walk on four feet. You may eat those that have legs with joints above their feet so they can jump. 22 These are the insects you may eat: all kinds of locusts, winged locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. 23 But all other insects that have wings and walk on four feet you are to hate.24 Those insects will make you unclean, and anyone who touches the dead body of one of these insects will become unclean until evening.25 Anyone who picks up one of these dead insects must wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

Verses 26-30 go on deal with special dispensations for cruise passengers.

which probably helps to explain the number of cruise ships catering to retired Jewish Canadians and Americans docking in Miami Beach each winter.
I’ll add an (in)appropriate image of a graying/greying Praying/Preying Mantis praying/preying when I’ve either found one or made one.
The source of these deep philosophical issue is a discussion I had with friends as a result of an image on a Christmas card.
bees_xmas_magi.png
as you see, one of the magi is presenting what I argue should be seen as chocolate covered bees (not Turtles – these were kosher in Canada when I grew up: said so on the box) – of some sort to a young Jesus and parents. There’s no indication that it was dark chocolate, only: another issue.
Finally, for now, a very qualified pair of biologists pointed out that either the old Biblical scholars were very bad at counting and math (they didn’t add “like too many lawyers” but it was implicit) and not very good at practical science and field work (same point), or insects have managed to grow another pair of limbs in the 6000 odd years since the world was created.
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