Scripta Varia

From a Sea-Snail to the Heavenly Throne: Wild Fauna in Jewish Law and Spirituality

Y.M. Barilan and Yehoshua Weisinger[*]



In the first part of this chapter, we reconstruct the rabbinic ethos on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. The Bible beholds the creation as good in its own right; but it also finds something deficient in humans as mere animal members of this holistic good. According to the Jewish sources, humans have a moral vision that sets them apart from the Darwinian struggle for survival. Attainment of that order might take millennia and may entail tolerance of human use of animals and other natural resources.

In the second part of this chapter, we discuss fundamental religious obligations that require familiarity with the natural world. One obligation is a memory aid – the purity of a natural color that reminds the person of religious law and of the beatific vision. Loss of one deep-sea species compromises this memory aid. The second obligation is a ritual necessary for the fulfillment of Jewish messianic future. The ritual depends on the preservation of a rare variant of domesticated animal. Intimacy with the natural world at large as well as with civilized nature are both necessary for the full realization of the Jewish religion.

Humans and Nature

The first evaluative statement in the Bible refers to the goodness of nature. According to the Creator, the creation is “good”, even “very good”. Whereas humanist and utilitarian philosophies regard “goodness” in relation to somebody, usually a human or humans, the Bible posits the goodness of nature[2] as an independent good; goodness that is neither conditioned by nor “tethered” to anybody.[3] It is a primary good. The Talmudic rabbis declare that even things that the tradition labels as “bad”, such as human “evil inclination” are good (Genesis Rabbah 9:9). In existentialist language, we may say that there is a unity in the background[4] of Beingòù; that it has an essentially concrete dimension, which is good, and this goodness is glowing in human consciousness. It might be presented as consciousness’s backlight. The fundamental affirmation of the goodness of creation comes with a significant theological price: if there is a unity of goodness in everything material, then the problem of theodicy is almost impossible to resolve. Recognition in the goodness of creation offers little practical guidance, because nature contains numerous and conflicting loci of interests. The good for one creature is the demise of the other; ecological stability never exists over significant periods of time, as climates shift, tectonic plates move and life on earth keeps altering the environment. Human normativity depends on normative horizons of symbolic order and purposefulness. Relative to such horizons it is possible to demarcate a normative matrix.

Whereas all plants and animals were created “on earth” and without any defined purpose, God took one creature and placed it in a circumscribed part of earth. This was man who was placed in the Garden of Eden “to dress and to keep” it. The Hebrew word in the text, לעבדה is the very same expression used later in the Bible in relation to the worship of God – עבד ה' , שלח את עמי ויעבדוני. (Exodus 7:16). Throughout the Bible, moral human existence is enclosed within contexts of material and social culture. The book of Genesis regards “Men of the field” and hunters as wicked persons (Esau, Nimrod). Judaism has never extolled hunting as a noble pursuit; rather, even if licit by Jewish law, it has been considered “un-Jewish”.[5] Hence, since the dawn of Judaism, it has discouraged the practices that are responsible for the extinction of mega-fauna along with the ensuing ecological changes.[6]

The Biblical, historical and moral horizons do not stretch beyond the Neolithic period. The Bible knows only one genus of homo; domestication of species of animals and plants ceased and stabilized. Large settlements and empires are about to bud out. They constitute a human ecological context, which the Bible renders a kind of enclosure of physical safety and moral limits. The Biblical narratives of the Creation engulf the whole earth, from around 4000BCE as a unity that is good.

For the Jewish tradition, the challenge of environmental ethics hinges on the impact of civilized life on the larger environment. Whereas all forms of life expand within their ecological niches, the Bible sees human existence as circumscribed by abstract, non-natural enclosures, the first of which was designated by God himself. As the stories on the Fall and Cain illustrate, human life outside of the cultural enclosure is not freedom but banishment that is akin to death. Humans “dress the earth and till it” while living in human ecological niches, adapting to the environment while altering that environment. From the beginning, the Bible distinguishes between human and natural environment, which may include, for example, bees that pollinate fruit trees, and creation as such, completely unrelated to human life.

The circumscribed and goal-oriented human existence led to the second evaluative judgment in the Bible. Even though the creation of man was deemed “very good”, the Bible says, “And the Lord God said, ‘it is not good that man should be alone’” (Genesis 2:18). The resolution of this problem depends on Man’s subjective judgment. The affirmative recognition about human society is put in Man’s mouth, not God’s: “And Adam said, ‘this is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh’” (Genesis 2:22).

According to the Talmud (Yevamot 63a), Adam sought intimacy with every species of animal until he realized that his wholeness came from unity with another human. Hence, every human “family” (i.e. ethnic group) shares with this blessing. Humans are part of creation; yet, recognition in human “loneliness” and its resolution appears separate from the natural order. The interpersonal relationship between man and woman (and later between two humans) is of a different quality from the impersonal, even if intimate and caring relationships among animals. It is part of the cultural enclosure, setting human life apart from its mere animalistic properties. Humans share so much with animals – in their physiology, anatomy, mental life, even human spiritual experience roots deeply into non-human modes of being.[7] In full awareness of this all-embracing commonality, the Bible professes human culture as a radical break from animals’ modes of survival and procreation.

Even though the Bible considers the creation good, and the Jewish tradition has never accepted gnostic and Manichean conceptions of the natural world[8], Judaism has never affirmed that mankind is an integral part of nature. Humans need some assistance and independent human action in order to fulfil something that is beyond the biological survival of the human animal. Human presence involves an emergent moral perspective, principles and ideals that the rules of nature neither contain nor lead towards. The created man is “very good”; but it is not yet good for man to merely exist. Morality and religion appear in the gap between the background awareness of the creation as good, and humans search for the things that are good for him or her, most crucially, the kind of life that is worth living.

The Biblical moral vision extracts human behavior from the blind order of nature by projecting transcendent ideals and by extracting humans from the harshest pressures of survival. Humans will not be food to other animals; they will not have to compete with animals over natural resources.[9] The Bible tells a story about human struggle to live in nature, but not as part of nature; to live in harmony with nature, and yet, to be subjected neither to human natural desires nor to natural forces of predation. This double negation – do not act like a predator; you will not become a prey – is the essence of Genesis’s morality. It is explicit in the Covenant with Noah. Even though it may happen that people prey on each other and that maladies, beasts and natural forces decimate human society, the Biblical point of view would never consider such events as normal, natural, as something we should accept. In the Biblical story, civilization begins within an enclosure – the Garden of Eden – where humans neither prey nor become predators. Following the Fall, humans are banished from their God-given enclosure. Wherever they go, humans must create cultural enclosures to protect and sustain them.

This is the idea of the “sanctity of human life” – humans shall not kill each other, nor should they accept non-natural death – the killing of humans by either animals or humans. The Talmudic rabbis explicate the reciprocity of this balance:

Why was man created last? If he lives virtuously and with the aid of the Holy Spirit – we tell him: you were created before the angels [who according to the Talmudic lore were created last]; if he fails, we tell him “a fly was created before you were” (Genesis Rabbah 8:1)

According to this Talmudic source, humans do not have a fixed place in the Great Chain of Being. Moreover, originally, people were not permitted to eat animals. God told the first humans that if humans comported themselves properly, animals would neither eat humans nor deprive humans of their essential resources. However, when people sin, animals rise and reign “above” them, prey on humans and on their vital resources (Rashi on Genesis 1:29).

The Talmudic literature explains in relation to the Laws of Moses:

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him”. (Proverbs 30:5). Does God care whether [a person] slaughters an animal from the neck (as Halakhah requires) or from the nape? No. The commandments were given in order to purify people”. (Leviticus Rabbah 30:3).

The Rabbis convey a clear message, even in relation to the human relationship with animals. The fundamental concern of the Torah is the honing of human virtues, the cultivation of will power, the conquest of human “evil inclinations”. Rabbi Kook (1865-1935) explains that following the moral depravations of the prediluvians, God gave humans permission to eat animal flesh as to concentrate efforts on respect for human life. According to Kook, after the deluge, God downgraded the value of life, giving humans permission to eat animals, as to boost the value of human life, instilling better the taboo on homicide.[10]

According to Jewish mystical traditions, meat eating, even when licit (Kasher) stems from inappropriate desire, rooted in the Serpent. God wishes to direct humanity away from its material dimensions (today we may call them – Darwinian laws) towards non-predatory modes of life.[11]

In Judaism, the protection of human life and the cultivation of well-ordered society take precedence over the protection of the creation. Kook does not say that destruction of nature is a precondition for the realization of human goals; rather, he says that coping with human’s evil inclinations and tendencies to excess requires temporary leniency in relation to nature. Kook articulates a dialectic process. First, humans enjoy a non-predatory harmony within a protected enclosure; then human moral failures lead to harsh modes of life, in which exploitation and destruction of non-human life is instrumental to respect for human dignity; lastly, human cultures co-exist peacefully in nature.

Half a century after Rabbi Kook formulated this vision, human civilization realized that its liberties with nature reached a point in which humanity and the rest of creation share the same fate once again – human action threatens to annihilate life on earth. Human growth has expanded and unified cultural enclosures as to create a new epoch of globalization, the Anthropocene.[12] Only during the peaceful period following the Second World War, when life expectancy and health rose dramatically and lethal human violence plummeted to unprecedented low levels, did humanity begin to realize the price paid – the degradation of natural life and the risk of technological annihilation. Human freedom is about disentangling life from the constraints of necessity,[13] from disease, predation and oppression. Power relationships within human society rather than any primary relationship between humans and the creation seem to be the chief culprit.[14]

With the expansion of human civilizations, human enclosures have vanished. Humans do not need protection from “nature”; rather, it is “nature” that needs protection from human excesses. For the ancients, the Heavens stood for cosmic perfection and order. Alexander von Humboldt introduced the notion of global ecology, exploring “nature” as a dynamic web of inter-dependencies. He also pointed out that human action interferes with this natural order, often breaking it. He was the first to discuss the interaction between human enclosures and “nature”.[15] 

The Blue Ribband and the Red Heifer

The idea that Jewish religious duties are instruments to hone the virtues squares well with Hellenic philosophies as “ways of life”, regimens of restraint and virtue. These regimens are also meditative, cultivating a detached and appreciative view of natural phenomena.[16] Some thinkers beheld the commandments (mitzvoth), the Laws of Moses, as yokes necessary for taming human obstinacy and evil inclinations. However, the rabbinic tradition has developed a parallel imagery of the Jewish way of life. In this world of idioms, God’s special love to His people is manifested in special, interpersonal relationships, within which, the religious duties are “benefits” (זכויות) bestowed by God, like jewels gifted by a lover to his beloved one and by a father to his beloved son. They are tokens of tenderness and loyalty, a kind of a secret sign language shared by two lovers.

“Set me as thy seal upon thine heart; as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death…” (Song of Solomon 8:1).

In association with this “seal”, the Talmud discusses the “signet and bracelet”, which Tamar took from Juda as a token of personal recognition (Genesis 38:18 – in the Hebrew bible it is the same word hotham for what KJV translates as “seal” in Song of Solomon and “signet” in Genesis). According to the Talmud, the “signet” is the “blue ribband” mentioned in the book of Numbers:

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring. (Numbers 15:38-39).

This commandment touches fundamental issues of religious life. It serves as a material memory aid that is enmeshed in quotidian life (a cloth). It invokes the remembrance and awareness of all the commandments. The text also mentions the two key motivations behind the commandments – self-discipline by means of obedience (ye seek not after your own heart…) and, as the Talmud renders clearly, the idiosyncratic tokens of love between God and Israel. When lovers are distant and at risk of forgetting their mutual commitments, the token of love keeps the sparks of yearning burning. As Tamar hints to Judah, it registers promise and loyalty.

Use of daily objects as memory aids is common in simple societies and religious traditions. The “fringes on the border of garments” – knots of some extra thread are a simple method for creating unique, and easily made symbols. But, the tzitzit, the fringe, contains a special element in addition to the simple white threads.

According to the rabbinic law, the blue ribband must come from one specific marine creature. The word employed by the oldest surviving source is snail חלזון (Tosefta Menahot 9). The Vulgate uses the Latin hyacinthinas, which means violet or blue.

The blue ribband is an excursion beyond the enclosure of culture, beyond the entire lifeworld. The Talmud says that the blue evokes the color of the sky which is the color of God’s throne:

“The tekhelet looks like the sea, and the sea looks like herbs, and herbs like heaven and heaven like God’s throne”. (Talmud Hulin 89a).

Before we discuss this chain of associations, it is worth pointing out that the blue of the ribband is a visitor from a non-human realm, from nature that is uncivilized and beyond the scope of cultural enclosures. It comes from a creature of the deep seas. It is not cultivated, and it has no use beyond this symbolic coloring. Yet, a certain knowledge of marine biology is essential for the preservation of a tradition and for the realization of full religious life. The creature and the technology existed at the times of Moses and they are still within human reach today. The religious law on the ribband acts out the unity of creation from the chalcolithic period all the way through meaningful human future. The dispersal of the Jewish people and the destruction of its homeland by warfare brought about cultural losses – we do not know how to find the snail and we do not know how to process it as a dye. Human harm to the environment might drive the creature into extinction, and within it the promise of Jewish religious revival, which apparently depends on the preservation of an unidentified species of the deep seas. Moreover, the blue ribband comes as a memory aid for all of the other commandments. The memory aid does not invoke the Torah or the Covenant, but it is encyclopedic. It also reminds people of something they have never seen – God’s throne.[17] This ultimate image is neither cultural nor natural. It reminds one of the visio beatifica and its relationship to Grace that envelops creation and permeates its every atom.

The mnemonic effect of the blue ribband takes a tortuous and strange route. It begins in the sight of the unique blue of one marine animal processed by human art. This special color evokes herbs and sky – ubiquitous natural objects which are familiar to every human. Why cannot people look at the herbs and sky directly? Apparently, seeing herbs with mindfulness and knowledge of natural phenomena is more powerful psychologically and spiritually. Looking at herbs, we think whether it is good for us, we see it as a raw material, a substance to be removed or transformed. Seeing it from the broader perspective of the deep seas, detached from human desires and needs, bring forth its goodness as such. According to Heidegger, technology is a mode of discovering or exposing (alètheuein) reality as a raw material to be worked on and transformed.[18] When technology develops as a means to an end – as a good for somebody (usually human ends) we fail to discover the detached goodness of the creation.

The tekhelet is one of the three chief coloring pigments used in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:2, 39:1). All three were extracted from invertebrate creatures which are of no other use for humans. The tradition about the production of tekhelet was lost. Some of the Talmudic sources are more legendary then descriptive. The post Talmudic literature is already disconnected from the relevant material culture. Some medieval rabbis use the word “fish” (Maimonides) and others “worm” (Rashi). The elaborate industry of dyes in Palestine disappeared in late antiquity. Medieval rabbis express different opinions regarding its color. According to Maimonides, it is black; according to Rashi – green. We know that the pigment was expensive (Talmud Menahot 44a). Perhaps, this is because the snail was quite rare, a creature that surfaces from the fathoms of the sea once in seven or even seventy years (Talmud Menahot 44a; Masekhet Tzitzit).[19]

 Not only did Jewish law require that the tekhelet come from one specific snail, the coloring must also endure as well. “It must retain its beauty, without change” (Maimonides, Hilkhot Tzitzit 2:1-2).

The voluntarist and positivist dimensions of rabbinic law tie spirituality to the fabric of reality. The fringe must contain a specific kind of coloring. It must come from a specific animal and it must be processed by a specific technology. Jewish law accepts neither substitutes nor sublimations. Following the loss of the traditions about the natural source and industrial processing of the pigment, observant Jews omit this commandment from their lives. They wear the tzitzit without the blue ribband (Talmud Menahot 38b). Symbolically, it is possible to behold this loss relative to Adam’s naming of all creatures. Jewish theology teaches us that alienation from the creation results in a compromised religious way of life and a compromised remembrance of the whole of the commandments. The extinction of species, loss of familiarity and oblivion of material culture bring a key token of love and fidelity between God and his people to annihilation.

The Biblical paragraph on the fringes and the ribbands appears in the most important part of the Jewish daily prayers. The Talmud explains that this paragraph contains five key elements of faith (Berakhot 12b). Hence, Jewish prayer invokes the memory of the fringe and ribbands; and the fringe and ribband invoke something that transcends culture and immediate human reality. It is noteworthy that according to an authoritative medieval rabbi, there is a special religious duty to look at the fringes and ribband, no matter how powerful meditation on prayer might be.[20] Judaism spins a string of memory aids and associations – the prayer recites the paragraph on the ribband, which is about the creation of a color that invokes the Heavenly throne. The paragraph also reminds every person of the Exodus and of the whole of the commandments. Alas, in the absence of the real color, this verbal string of associations falls short of the positive requirement and spiritual experience.

A similar loss occurred in relation to the “red heifer”, whose ashes are necessary for the performance of the ritual of purification from the impurity of the dead )Numbers 19). Whereas the blue ribband depends on familiarity with the natural world outside of human habitat, the disappearance of the red heifer is about erosion of biological diversity within human habitat, within the realm of domesticated and tamed life, within cultural enclosures. The heifer must be wholesome in its color. Hence, both ribband and heifer are about the beauty of pure natural forms. The wild sea snail needs industrial processing; the domesticated heifer needs not.

The redness of the heifer is not a mere sign but the essence of the ritual. Both ribband and heifer are about the beauty in color (Rashi on Numbers 19:3). The Talmudic rabbis took the commandment of the “red heifer” as emblematic of a King’s decree that needs no explanation. According to one Talmudic source, when Moses rose to Heaven he found God deliberating the laws of the red heifer (Psikta Rabbati, Parah, mark 13). Hence, the verbal deliberation of the laws of the heifer stand for the visio beatifica.

Whereas the “red heifer” does not exist anymore,[21] the rabbis have always felt that the blue ribband requires identification of a creature still extant.

In the late 19th century, a Hassidic rabbi embarked on a philological scientific investigation in search of the lost snail. It was evident to the rabbis, that recovery of this lost tradition depends on the natural sciences and in people’s capacity to know the natural order and to preserve it. In a book published in 1887, Rabbi Henich Leitner (1839-1890) claimed it was the common cuttlefish. Thirty years later, Rabbi Isaac HaLevi Herzog (1999-1959) argued in favor of the Murex Trunculus. Although the vast majority of rabbis have not accepted these identifications as satisfactorily convincing, nobody contested the rabbi’s methodology, namely that the search for the snail requires scientific inquiry.[22] Rather, the rise of modern biology and chemistry brought the rabbinic community to think that reconstruction of the lost identification was becoming possible. A leading scientific inspiration was the extensive work of the Venetian pharmacist Bartolomeo Bizio on the chemistry of the ancient organic dyes.[23] Indeed, the Talmud endorses meticulous scientific observations as the means to understanding rabbinic law (Sanhedrin 5b).

In Judaism, we find many laws and practices that are related to the material life of a community – a society of agriculture at the edge of the Mediterranean. People and cultures think and experience the world through direct and repeated experience of their natural environment. In this phenomenal world, the sun rises, the earth is firmly set under feet and the sky is a canopy stretching up above the clouds. Merleu-Ponty writes:

All my experience in the world, even my scientific knowledge, is gained from my own particular point of view, or from some experience of the world without which the symbols of science would be meaningless. The whole world of science is built upon the world as directly experienced.[24]

In a similar manner, Jewish spiritual life is anchored in and expressed by a universe centered in Jerusalem, whose daily activities are social life of cattle herding, farming and small industry of Biblical and Talmudic times. This was “the flesh of the world”[25] of Jewish culture, whose preservation and maintenance were key to the continuation of traditional society. This aspect of nature was anthropocentric, but not a dominating brand of anthropocentrism. It is not a desire-based or need-based view of the world. It is a way Jewish culture experiences, thinks and expresses itself through its material environment and natural horizons. As anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss observes, “natural species are chosen [for cultural symbolism and ritual] not because ‘they are good to eat’, but because ‘they are good to think’”.[26] The cognitive process does not rise above nature but develops through intimate relatedness to natural phenomena. This cognition crafts an ontology “from within” the lived body. In Jewish law, the snail is not the symbol. It is the source of a pure form-less abstraction of color that distinguishes the blue ribband from the fringes and the red heifer from other calves. This pure color, though, must originate in a wild animal, and be processed by specific technology as to induce the desired spiritual experience. 

We do not know whether the numerous biblical and Talmudic laws regulating agriculture serve ecological or economic purposes. We do know that they constitute a holistic communal way of life, a prism through which traditional Jewry beholds its life-world. This is what Hanna Arendt describes in relation to the Roman conception of “nature”. It is the immediate envelope of society. The seashores near town, the wild animals on its margins as well as the soil cultivated within.[27] Indeed, agriculture is historically and symbolically linked to labor, property and power relationship, the use of animals and social stratifications by matrices of gender, ethnicity and wealth.[28] People have weaved natural objects in their symbolic world order. Tamed nature, combined with architecture and artifice make elaborate memory aids and “meditation engines”.[29]

The fringes on the border of garments embody such practices; some rabbinic commandments are irrevocably attached to very specific natural phenomena. The loss of the red heifer reminds us of the enormous diversity of cultured seeds and species that is under threat of extinction, no less than wild flora and fauna.[30]

Decimation and extinction of species and forms of life undermines Jewish religious life at its very core, where human cognition, human spirituality and the material world meet. Nowhere have the rabbis said that Jewish law was meant to protect the natural world. However, acquaintance with nature and its preservation are essential for the maintenance of the fabric of awareness from which Jewish religious life is weaved.



[*] Bioethics and Law Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
[2] In the Hebrew sources, we find “creation”; nature is a Hellenic term. Both Greek (physis) and Latin (natura) refer etymologically to organisms that generate.
[3] Utilitarian, Kantian and humanist philosophers tend to believe that every kind of good must be “good for somebody”. See Korsgaard (2018, 16-21).
[4] This refers specifically to Heidegger’s stimmung. It is a special kind of stimmung – affirmative and intentional.
[5] Barilan, Y.M. “The vision of vegetarianism and peace: Rabbi Kook and the ethical treatment of animals”. History of The Human Sciences 2004; 17:69-101.
[6] The role of early humans in Late Quaternary mass extinction is not fully clear. See Seddon, C. Humans: From the Beginning. 2nd ed. Glanville Publications, 2018; pp. 295-310. Perhaps the largest ecological impact of human expansion resulted from Western expansion, rather than by hunting. It was a unilateral ecological shift. Crosby, A.W. Ecological Imperialism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986; p. 165.
[7] Abram, D. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. New York: Vintage, 2010.
[8] Manichaeism posits a cosmology in which equally powerful forces of good and evil struggle. Early Christianity posited that even though the struggle was still raging, Jesus already tipped the balance in favor of the good. The Bible and the Talmudic literature do not offer a theology of cosmic clashes. Rather, for these sources, creation has been completed; humanity is comprised of one family; no independent significant opposition plays with nature against either God or the good.
[9] Barilan, Y.M. Human Dignity, Human Rights and Responsibility: The New Language of Bioethics and Biolaw. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2012.
[10] Kook, A.O. “Afikim Ba-Negev” Ha-Peles 1903.
[11] b. Brechia of Modena, A., Ma’avar Yaboq, Sefat Emmet, ch. 16. (A 17th century book).
[12] Lewish, S.L. and M.A. Maslin. The Human Planet: How We Created The Anthropocene. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2018.
[13] Arendt, A. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958; p. 120.
[14] Bookchin, M. “Social ecology versus deep ecology” Green Perspectives 1987; 4-5:1-23.
[15] Wulf, A. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. New York: Knopf. 2015.
[16] Hadot, P. Philosophy as way of life. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995; pp. 189-190. The Talmudic sources describe how incidental viewing of the ribband can overcome the otherwise irresistible temptation of perfect sexual beauty and worldly riches. (Horovitz, H.S. (ed). Siphre d’be Rab. Lipaciae: Gustav Fock. 1926, p. 129). This detached perspective, which also values the goodness of creation, is the locus in which neither Judaism nor Christianity is reducible to either psycho-spiritual satisfaction or ethics.
[17] Yet, a deep cultural memory is invoked – see Exodus 24:10.
[18] Heidegger, M. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper, 1977; p. 12. Other aspects of Heidegger’s view of technology are quite remote from the discussion herein.
[19] It might be possible that the pigment was a common part of the garment industry of the Mediterranean. However, this article is about the Talmudic rendition and the rabbinic attempt to reconstruct the dye according to that tradition.
[20] Rabbi Isaac of Corbeill. Sefer Mitzvot, Mark 28.
[21] Occasionally, there are reports of such calves being born and rabbis checking them for the required purity of color. There are attempts to breed such a cow with the aid of genetic engineering. The Jewish community of Ethiopia used a red heifer well into the twentieth century.
[22] Some rabbis insisted on a cultural inquiry “[issues in religious law] that are factual, are known by oral transmission, not by applying Talmudic criteria to the facts. Soloveitchik, J.D. Beit Ha’Levi. Part IV, 2006; Mark 38. In the 1990s, The Chief Rabbinate of Israel was undecided about the appropriate methodology. Shpira A., Mickrai Kodesh, Jerusalem, 2018, p. 672.
[23] Ghiretti, F. “Bartolomeo Bizio and the rediscovery of Tyrian purple” Experientia 1994; 50:802-807.
[24] Merleau-Ponty, M. Phenomenology of Perception. London, 1962, p. 8.
[25] Merleau-Ponty, M. The Visible and the Invisible. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968, pp.83-84.
[26] Levi-Strauss, C. Totemism. Boston: Beacon, 1962, p. 89.
[27] Arendt, H. Between Past and Future, New York: Penguin Books, 1961, p. 48.
[28] Arendt, H. The Human Condition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.
[29] Caruthers, M. The Craft of Thought: Mediation, Rhetoric and the Making of Images, 400-1200. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 269-276.
[30] Searbrook, J. “Sowing for apocalypse”. The New Yorker, Aug. 27th, 2007.




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