Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu in the Gemara

Gemara Taanis 21b (elucidation in brackets):

They once said to Rav Yehudah: There is a deadly plague among the pigs. He decreed a fast [even though Jews would not be directly affected by the destruction of pigs].
Shall we say that Rav Yehudah holds that a plague which is visited on one species [of animal] is [apt to be] visited on all species? [Thus, kosher livestock were threatened by the plague that struck pigs.

No. Pigs are different in that their digestive tracts resemble those of humans. [Therefore, a plague that strikes pigs bodes ill for the people of that place, which is why Rav Yehudah decreed a fast. Note: Pigs, like humans, have no rumen, unlike other livestock (Rashi). Thus, people are more susceptible to epidemics that affect pigs than to those affecting other livestock.]

א”ל לרב יהודה איכא מותנא בחזירי גזר תעניתא נימא קסבר ר”י מכה משולחת ממין אחד משולחת מכל המינין לא שאני חזיר דדמין מעייהו לבני אינש
(תענית כא עמוד ב)

{Dovid Newscenter}