“And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, Speak to the children of Israel, saying: These are the creatures that you may eat among all the animals on earth: Any animal that has a cloven hoof that is completely split into double hooves, and which brings up its cud, that one you may eat.” (Lev. 11:1-3)
This means that one who wants to eat animal meat, has to check if the animal has two signs of purity: 1. It has split hooves (the hooves of its feet are not one piece but are two separate parts). 2. It brings up its cud (it regurgitates and rechews its food after it was swallowed).
In the following verses, the Torah reveals one of the secrets of nature. Among the thousands of species of domesticated and wild animals in the world, there are only 4 kinds of animals which either chew their cud or have split hooves, but not both together. They chew their cud but don’t have split hooves, or have split hooves but don’t chew their cud. Among all the other animals, whoever has split hooves will also chew its cud. Either they have both signs of purity or neither of them.
The Torah even specifies the names of the 4 animals, and which specific sign of purity it has:
“But these you shall not eat among those that bring up the cud and those that have a cloven hoof: the camel, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a completely split hoof; it is unclean for you. And the rock-badger, because it brings up its cud, but will not have a completely split hoof; it is unclean for you; And the hare, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a completely split hoof; it is unclean for you; And the pig, because it has a split hoof that is completely split, but does not regurgitate its cud; it is unclean for you.”
The Torah sums up this natural law:
Only the camel, rock-badger and hare bring up their cud but do not have a split hoof.
Only the pig has a split hoof but does not bring up its cud.
All other animals in the world that have one sign will also have the other!
Let’s think over what this means. The One Who composed the Torah committed Himself for all generations that any animal which we will ever come across, irrespective of if it is from eternal forests or African jungles or was discovered on the American continent only several hundreds of years ago, if it is not one of the above four animals, and is found to have one sign of purity, it must also have the other sign of purity!!
The Oral Tradition explains in depth that the revelation of this natural law has another ramification — an extremely important legal goal. The Talmud (Chulin 59a) says:
If a man was walking in the desert and found an animal with its mouth mutilated [and therefore he cannot check if it brings up its cud, because one can identify an animal that brings up its cud by the fact that it has no upper teeth.] he should examine its hoofs; if they are parted he may be certain that it is clean, but if not he may be certain that it is unclean; provided, however, he recognizes what a pig looks like. (Because if he doesn’t know what a pig looks like, there is a possibility that this animal with split hooves is a pig, which has split hooves but does not bring up its cud.)
Tanna d’bei Rabbi Ishmael said on this: “And the pig, because it has a split hoof” — the Omniscient One knows that in His universe, there is nothing else that has split hooves and is impure besides the pig.
The sages say in a Braita (Sifrei, Re’eh, 102): “‘You shall not eat this.’ Rabbi Akiva said: Was Moses a hunter or a zoologist?? Here is an answer to those who say that the Torah didn’t come from heaven!”
“This teaches us the Torah’s uniqueness, in that it itself furnishes the proof that it was given by G-d above. No flesh and blood person would decide that only these signs are fitting and others are not. Or perhaps there are other creations which have the same signs as the camel, rock-badger, hare and pig? Perhaps over the generations and years they would explore the world and find other such animals? Only G-d alone knows that nowhere in His universe are there other such animals besides those mentioned here. We have seen that since the Torah was given, researchers and explorers have not found other such species! These are among the wonders, integrity and uniqueness of His Torah.” (Rabbi Baruch Epstein of Pinsk, in his book Torah Temima, Lev. 11:17)
Since Rabbi Epstein wrote these verses, a hundred years has passed. During these years modern science has made tremendous strides and discovered many other animals throughout the world. It can be stated that over 3,000 years has passed since the Revelation on Mt. SInai until our days, and all or almost all land animals and beasts have been discovered. And of all these, not one animal has been discovered that only brings up its cud or only has split hooves — besides those mentioned in the Torah. In all the other thousands and ten thousands of animals, they either have both signs or lack both signs!
Notes and Sources
. Over the generations, there were some who doubted the reliability of the Torah that the rock-badger and the rabbit were ruminants. Some tried to say that perhaps the Torah was speaking of other animals and not those which we call the rock-badger and rabbit. Another argument raised by atheists was that other animals have one sign of purity. But as research progressed, it became clear that the Torah’s words are precise, and only these four animals, that are called by names known and familiar to us today, have one sign of purity, just as it is written in the Torah. This is explained in detail in my book Revolution 3 in the chapters that deal with the rock badger and rabbit, as well as knowledge of and familiarity with all the animals in the world.
. See our booklet “Nine Answers and a Question”.
. It was recently revealed by those who breed various animals together that they cannot make a new breed that has only one sign of purity!
Adapted from “Journey to the Truth 2” by Rabbi Zamir Cohen