Mysterious Creatures

Intriguing Torah Enigmas of Natural and Unnatural History

By Nosson Slifkin

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This book explores conflicts between the Talmud and science in the context of Torah mysteries of zoology. The Talmud and Midrash discuss a wide range of bizarre creatures, including mermaids, unicorns, griffins, dragons, sea-serpents and phoenixes, as well as strange biological concepts such as spontaneous generation. Mysterious Creatures discusses these cases in detail and brings a range of different approaches for understanding them. It is an essential book for any student or educator who has ever struggled with conflicts between the Talmud and science. Strikingly designed, and including extraordinary photographs and illustrations, this is a truly stimulating work.

"References in Chazal to curious zoological phenomena are often more mystifying than the creatures themselves. Rabbi Slifkin's thorough scholarship, so well proven in his previous works, comes through once again. Even more important than providing answers to thorny questions surrounding the subjects of the book's title, this work helps the student plot a steady course through the sometimes churning waters of Chazal's science. How much did Chazal rely on the science of their day? When did they - and when did they not - mean to be taken literally? Rabbi Slifkin provides answers consistent with the spirit of our mesorah. By doing so, the profundity of the Torah of our Sages shines with even greater brilliance."

- Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Author, Maharal: Be'er HaGolah (Artscroll) Review

Read R. Dr. Edward Reichman's review of Mysterious Creatures in Jewish Action (reprinted with permission from Jewish Action, the magazine of the Orthodox Union) (link to PDF)

This book has recently generated a good deal of controversy, with many rabbis condemning its ideas as being beyond the pale of Orthodoxy. Yashar Books has consulted with a number of Orthodox rabbis and is comfortable in saying that different communities have different standards in this matter. We are happy to serve those communities that feel these books are acceptable. If you personally have questions on this matter then we urge you to consult with your local Orthodox rabbi and act accordingly. More information is available at the Sefer Ha-Hayim Blog and at the author's website.

Inside the Book

Table of Contents

Of Sages and Scientists
Talmudic Cryptozoology
Unicorns of Different Colors
The Fabulous Salamander
The Phoenix from the Flames (PDF)
Mermaids and Wild Men
Dragons and Sea Serpents
Behemoths and Brontosaurs
Griffins and Kings
The Remarkable Roc
Sweat-Lice, Tree-Geese, & Mud-Mice
Selected Bibliography


The Phoenix from the Flames (PDF)

About the Author

Rabbi Nosson Slifkin
Zoo Torah

Born in Manchester, England, Rabbi Nosson Slifkin (Google him) studied there at Yeshivas Shaarei Torah. He then moved to Israel, where he spent many years in study, at Yeshivas Midrash Shmuel and the Mir Yeshivah. He then taught Talmud and Jewish philosophy at Ohr Somayach Institutions, where he received ordination, and now teaches an extensive Zoo Torah course at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah and Midreshet Moriah Seminary for Women. Rabbi Slifkin has written extensively for the Daf Yomi Advancement Forum (Kollel Iyun HaDaf) and many newspapers, websites and journals. He has been invited as guest lecturer to Bar Ilan University and to numerous synagogues worldwide.

Several years ago, Rabbi Slifkin began teaching about the relationship between Judaism and the animal kingdom at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. He then developed the Zoo Torah program, which he has since successfully operated in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Diego. This program has led Rabbi Slifkin to be featured in television and radio shows as well as in countless newspapers and journals. Rabbi Slifkin has a lifelong fascination with wildlife and has kept a wide variety of exotic pets, including iguanas and tarantulas! His studies of wildlife have led him hiking extensively in Israel, scuba diving to coral reefs in Eilat, on safari in Kenya, whale-watching in California, and behind the scenes at numerous zoological facilities worldwide.

Rabbi Slifkin's wife Avital (Tali), formerly Tali Samson, holds a master's degree from Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work amd works as a community social worker for LeMaan Achai. The Slifkins live in Ramat Beit Shemesh, along with their daughter Tikvah Chavah and an assortment of iguanas, rabbits, guinea-pigs, cockatiels, parakeets, quails, and fish.

Other Books by the Author

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