Parshat שמיני Vayikrah 7:11 – Calling a pig a pig

Parashat שמיני Leviticus 11:7 – Calling a swine a swine

Leviticus 11:7 ” And the swine, because he parteth the hoof, and is cloven-footed, but cheweth not the cud, he is unclean unto you. ”

Hullin 59b: “It was taught in the beth midrash of Rabbi Ishmael: The One who rules over His world knows that the only animal that has split hooves and is impure is the swine.  This is why the verse says he (is unclean to you)”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #21:

See what was said in note 17 regarding a similar midrash referring to the camel and apply it to here.  See also the Aramaic translation of Yonatan Ben Uziel: “… and the swine .. there is none like it.  The midrash cited here explains the intention of Yonatan Ben Uziel when he says there is none like it.  This midrash is key.

Refer to the commentary of the Or HaChaim on this verse in the Torah:

And the swine .. but cheweth not the cud ..  There is a condition so long as the swine does not chew its cud, it is impure, however, in the future it will chew its cud and return[1] to be kosher.  It will not remain forever an animal that does not chew its cud and become kosher because the Torah does not change[2].

All these words are strange and wondrous.  From where did he find a source for this novel idea?  We do not see anywhere that the nature of animals will change in the future.  Why, out of all of the impure animals, will the swine be permitted?  Albeit true that I heard of a midrash explaining why its name is Hebrew is חזזיר: because it will return to its original permission.  It appears that the Or HaChaim understands this midrash literally.

In truth, no midrash with this language or intent has been found.  There is one midrash in Midrash Rabbah (Parashat Shemini end of section 12) and Kohelet Rabbah (on the verse That which hath been is that which shall be[3]) that refers to a different idea.

The swine refers to the nation of Edom.  Why is it called חזזיר? Because it returns the crown to its owner as the verse says (Obadiah 1:21) And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S

In other words, through the nation of Edom, the crown will return to Israel.  It is clear that this midrash is primarily allegorical with a different intent.  It is a grave mistake to connect this midrash with permitting the swine in the future as explained.  Refer to Midrash Socher Tov section 146 and the insights of the Rashab thereon[4]

Shocher Tov 146 note 5: The Hebrew, מתיר אסורים, can also mean permitting what was forbidden.  The Midrash says: “Some say that, in the future,  the Holy One Blessed is He will purify all the animals that are impure in this world.  Similarly the verse says (Ecclesiastes 1:9): That which hath been is that which shall be for they were pure before the time of Noah.  Upon leaving the ark, Hashem tells Noah “like vegetation I have given everything to you (Genesis 9:3)”  Just as I gave vegetation to all so to wild and domesticated animals to all.  Hashem forbade them to know who would listen to Him and who would not.  In the future He will permit all He forbade.  Others say He will not permit them in the future as the verse says (Isaiah 66:17): “They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves to go unto the gardens, behind one in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the detestable thing, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.”  If Hashem will destroy those that eat these, he certainly will not permit them in the future…

Editor note: The Torah Temimah does not shy away from controversial topics.  Descended from a family of Torah scholars[5], he shows his halachic side in this comment defending the mitzvoth of the Torah.  He vehemently opposes the idea of nature changing in the time of mashiach, specifically, the swine becoming a kosher animal, yet he respectfully disagrees with the commentary of the Or HaChaim.  Instead of outwardly rejecting the Or HaChaim, he acknowledges hearing about a midrash, on which the Or HaChaim is based, however, he concurs with the printed sources that explain the matter differently.  This should be a model how to approach disagreements in matters of halacha and exegesis.


[1] חוזר – to return an play on the Hebrew word for swine, חזזיר

[2] Even in the time of mashiach, kosher animals must still exhibit all the signs of a kosher animal.

[3] Ecclesiastes 1:9

[4] Note 5 on Psalms 146:7

[5] His father was the author of the Aruch Ha Shulhan, a commentary on the Shulhan Aruch.  His uncle was the Netziv of Volozhyn, in whose yeshiva, he studied for many years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.