Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swine flu is mentioned in the gemara

Our sages tell us that everything is hinted at in the Torah. An amazing example of this is a passage in the gemara (the oral Torah) which says as follows (Ta'anis 21b):

"The sages said to Rav Yehuda, 'There is a deadly plague among pigs.' He decreed a fast day (to arouse Divine mercy and cancel this heavenly decree). Do we say that Rav Yehuda holds that a plague that is sent to one species could be visited upon other species as well (and the reason he declared a fast day was that, even though Jews do not raise pigs and therefore would not suffer financial loss by their illness, still they may infect other kosher species and cause great financial loss?) No, answers the gemara, pigs are different, for their intestines are similar to human intestines" (and therefore, there is a great danger of human beings actually contracting this plague from pigs!). Rashi explain that pigs don't have extra stomach, unlike cows, and Tosfos further illucidates that people are therefore, more susceptable to plagues that affect pigs than those that affect other animals, similar to human plagues.

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