Tuesday, August 14, 2007

About Jews and Rabbits.

While I was stranded at the Orlando airport while returning from the Shuttle launch, I had the time and the Internet connection to do some preliminary research on the difficult relationship between Jews and Rabbits. I concluded that whether a gift of a rabbit would be appropriate or inappropriate was linked between the intended purpose of the rabbit, the time of year in which the rabbit was given, and possibly the form the rabbit took.

Rabbits as food.


Suppose you gave a Jew a rabbit to eat.... Well, rabbits are not kosher (see primary restriction on chewing cud and cloven hoof). Certainly most gentiles, and in fact many Jews question the value of remaining faithful to the dietary restrictions in the Torah, and subsequently developed by the rabbis that are now encapsulated in the laws of kashrut or "keeping kosher." Does it really DO something, to bury a fork in the ground because it accidentally touched meat and dairy? Does God really care all that much about it? Isn't kashrut fundamentally about keeping people from getting trichinosis from undercooked pork anyhow? Interesting questions for the purposes of debate, but ultimately up to each person to decide. And so you have two options here -- if you give a Jew a rabbit to each with disclosure, it's probably only an ettiquette issue, and they'll quite possibly decline. You've only revealed that you're not knowledgeable about kosher law. But if you give a Jew a rabbit to eat WITHOUT disclosure, it's a far worse thing. You're encouraging another person into sin. This is, by Jewish law, a sin in itself.


Conclusion: If you give a Jew a rabbit to eat, you're encouraging him to break a fundamental law of kashrut.
Suggestion: Don't give a Jew a rabbit as a snack. It may TASTE like chicken, but it's not nice to lead a person into sin, whether you agree with it or not.



Rabbits and Easter.


Suppose you gave a Jew a rabbit in the spring.... The line between Christianity and Judaism is fraught with peril, and in the spring, the line between Jews and rabbits is intense. After all, it's spring, it's beginning to be warm, flowers bud, baby animals arrive on the scene -- what could be more heartwarming than a rabbit that shows up on a beautiful spring day and hides brightly colored eggs for the joy of children? And yet, the superimposition of Christian folk-activity on the heaviness of the Jewish ritual of Passover may be the second most fun-unbalanced time of year. And you hear it over and over -- what's the harm in a few dyed eggs? It's not like it's about JESUS.... But it *is* about Christian interpretation of rebirth and resurrection, which draws an undeniable connection to Jesus and to Christianity for Jews, and is a line that we dare not cross, because when you give a Mouse a Jewish child who's got Easter eggs, well, the next thing you know, he'll want you to get a visit from Santa.


Conclusion: If you give a Jew a rabbit in the spring, he'll associate it with the Easter Bunny and question whether your motives are perhaps more ... insidious.
Suggestion: Don't give a Jew a rabbit during Passover.



Rabbits as Hats.


The only place where I could find an actual correlative connection between Jews and rabbits had to with hats. Improbable? Perhaps. Wikipedia has this to say about that:


"Samet (velvet) or biber (beaver) hats are worn by Galician and Hungarian Hasidim during the week and by unmarried men on Shabbat as well. Some unmarried men only wear a samet hat on the Sabbath and a felt hat during the week. There are many types of Samet hats, most notably the "high" ("hoicher") and "flat" ("platcher") varieties. The "flat" type is worn by Satmar Hasidim, and some others as well. Some Rabbis wear a "round" samet hat in a similar style to the shtofener hats, however made from the Samet material. They are called beaver hats even though today they are made from rabbit."

Conclusion: Some Jews wear rabbit hats.
Suggestion: It's probably okay with a Jew if you give him a rabbit hat.

It's probably just not okay with the rabbit.

2 comments:

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Unknown said...

It is a common misperception that the laws of kashrus (kosher-ness) must be rooted in logic or public health. This is not the case. Kashrus has to do with accepting that God has asked us to do some things that we haven't the capacity to understand. There is even a special word for Torah laws that cannot be explained by or to the human mind - and kashrus is one of those.
When one of my forks gets de-kashered, I don't bury it. There are other methods to re-kasher a metal fork which might seem more logical: you can scrub it with an abrasive cloth and you can submerge it in boiling water.