Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Beit El Animal Corner

I was walking through Beit El, heading for the huge water tank I saw up on the next hilltop, I stopped to snap some photos of people playing with their children at the park when I was approached by a group of teenage yeshiva kids.
"What are you taking pictures of?"
"Just the people, the things I see here."
"You want to come with us? We'll show you some good pictures."
So off I went trailing behind the yeshivah boys, and before I knew it I was eye to eye with an Iguana at the Beit El Animal Corner.

The park has a trailer full of caged reptiles and birds. Outside, there's an aviary with peacocks and what looked like some sort of quail. It gave me the opportunity for a crash course in Hebrew animal names.

טווס - Tavas - Peacock






Another Tavas.


The larger animals are housed in modest stone shelters. The nicer ones are available for petting. On my visit, a couple of ewes had just been born the previous night.
The Animal Corner is centered around a modest stone duck pond with a waterfall, flanked by olive trees.

More photos on the way...
What I learned in Yeshivah today:
It is agreed by almost all poskim (legal authorities in Jewish law) that the use of electricity is forbidden on Shabbat. The question is whether it is a "D'oraita," a direct Torah commandment, or if it "D'Rabannan", an extra stringiency enacted by the Rabbis to prevent one from committing a Torah violation. Rav Kook Z"L, the founder of the National Religious movement, believed that it was D'oraita in that it was considered "Boneh," building, one of the 39 melachot (prohibited shabbat activities.) I.e., completing the electric circuit constitutes "building" the circuit. This is questioned because the circuit was already built before Shabbat, and the person using the electricity is merely closing it. It's similar to closing a window. To place a board over a hole in the wall would be considered building on Shabbat. But to close a window which was already built would not be considered building.
The Cozzon Ish, who was a leader of Hareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism, held that it was considered "Tikkun Kli," performing the finishing touch to an object, which is also one of the 39 melachot. I.e., adding electricity "completes" the fan, making it functon. His ruling is also questioned, because most wouldn't consider an unplugged fan to be "broken," and therefore turning it on would not be a melachah.
However, all rabinnic authorities hold that turning on or off an electric circuit is a "D'oraita" melachah because many actions which one does with electricity, whether turning on a light (generating heat and light and therefore being considered "fire,") or cooking in an electric grill, are activities prohibited D'Oraita, by the Torah, and therefore one should not use electricity in order to avoid accidentally violating one of these prohibitons.
So either way you look at it, don't turn out the lights.

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