Friday, November 28, 2008

Nothing To Do With Animals

It's nothing to do with animals, but here is an essay that I wrote recently which is related to this week's Torah portion - specifically, Yitzchak telling his wife Rivkah to pretend to be his sister. This was a strategy that we saw Avraham use twice, but how is it morally acceptable to engineer such a deceit for personal gain with no regard for the wife's fate? Read this essay for an answer (Microsoft Word document).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Happened Here?

Answer: A rabbit was taken by an owl.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wonders of the Animal Kingdom #3: The Pygmy Seahorse

The pygmy seahorse is tiny, no larger than 2.4 cm. This species is known to occur only on gorgonian corals of the genus Muricella, and has evolved to resemble its host. The tubercles and truncated snout of this species match the color and shape of the polyps of the host gorgonian, while its body matches the gorgonian stem. The camouflage is so effective that the original specimens were discovered only after their host coral had been collected and placed in an aquarium!
More pictures here. Check out the incredible video below:

The Pygmy Seahorse! - video powered by Metacafe

(Hat tip: Fred Edmond)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coming Lecture Tour

Here is the schedule so far for my forthcoming lecture tour in New York:

Wednesday December 3, 8.05pm at YU, Weissburg Commons:
"The Decline and Rebirth of Rationalist Judaism"

Thursday December 4, 8:00pm at Young Israel of Woodmere:
"The Making of a Ban"

Shabbos December 5/6, at Congregation Ohav Tzedek, Manhattan:
Topics including cosmology, evolution, as well as the above topics.

Sunday December 7th (tentative):
Torah Tour of the Bronx Zoo. $30 adults, $25 children. By reservation only.

I am still free for Sunday afternoon/ evening, and probably for Thursday morning/afternoon; please contact me if you would like to arrange a presentation for your school/ community. "Contacting me" means writing to me at, not leaving a comment!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Look Into My Eyes...

Can you guess what creature this is? It's something that many people find repulsive... but with some effort, it is possible to learn to appreciate the beauty and wonder of them. More astonishing pictures can be found here. (Note: one reader said that the link included a banner with un-tzniusdik women, although that didn't show up on my computer.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Heron: A Decidedly Non-Kosher Bird

The heron is listed in the Torah as a non-kosher bird. Now, while we may not know the ultimate reasons behind the dietary laws, many have pointed out that predatory animals are, on the whole, non-kosher. (In fact, predatory birds are by definition non-kosher.) If you ever wondered why the graceful heron appears on this list, the following picture dramatically shows why.

For the full series of incredible photos, click here.