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DER YIDDISH-VINKL February 25, 2005

In his typically incredible way, our steady contributor, Stanley Siegelman, has unearthed an otherwise obscure item about zoos. In Lithuania, high-ranking Orthodox rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv frowns on the operation of zoos. He even would forbid visiting a zoo. His authority is a 16th-century code of Jewish law that bars the raising of animals for any purpose other than food.

Here is Siegelman’s view of the matter:

Nayes fun Khayes

Oy, hert zikh tsu! Mir hobn nayes

Es hot tsu ton mit vilde khayes!

Der rebe fregt: “Du bist a Jew?”

Az yo, torstu nit geyn in “zoo.”

“M’muz nit kukn oyf baheymes!”

(In English zogt men, “Dat vood shame us!”)

Farvos iz dos farbotn? Zog!

Dos iz a frage! Oy a klog!

Der entfer ligt in heylik bukh

Vos heyst di Shulkhan Orukh

Baheymes zaynen nur tsum esn

(Kom vi in a delicatessen.)

Un nisht tsu shteln oyf “display”?

Dos iz a “rationale”? Oy vey!

Derfar iz der “zoo” a treyfener plats

Azoy goyish vi di “Hottentots.”

A yid vos folgt nit dem bafel

Vet shnel gefinen zikh in “hell”

A Yid vos tut azelkhe zind

Iz take shlekht un beyz — a “fiend.

Gey nisht zen di malpe “cage”

Oy, tsind nisht on dem rebn’s “rage”

Loyft nit zen a leyb in zoo!

Es past nisht, boychikl, “entre nous.”

Baheymes zaynen nisht far “lookin’”

Zey zaynen nor far “fres” nokh “cookin’.”

News About Jews and Zoos

Attention, please! We have new rules

Pertaining to the “animules”

A rabbi gives this news to Jews:

It’s wrong for Jews to visit zoos.

“A Jew, devout or secular

Should shun a place that has a bar!”

Explain to us, oh reb, at least

This rule concerning man and beast.

For answers, see Shulkhan Arukh

Our sacred text, you there must look

With holiness it is imbued

It stipulates that beasts are food.

They’re meant man’s hunger to allay

They’re not for onerous display

This means a zoo, per se, is “treyf

And to man’s very soul unsafe.

From this decree there’s no escape!

The Orthodox are going ape!

’twould be a sin, a moral gaff

To gaze upon a caged giraffe!

Gorillas are unfit to view

If they’re confined within a zoo

This edict isn’t worth defyin’

Just to see a locked-up lion.

In short, a beast is not for lookin’

It is, instead, designed for cookin’.


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