Friday, December 09, 2005

Frumteens on Lice and Spontaneous Generation

Last week, a poster asked on Frumteens about Lice and how Chazal stated that they are generated spontaneously. The moderator posted his reply today and it's a doozy.

You see, when Chazal said that lice generate spontaneously, they didn't really mean that they generate spontaneously as the scientists of their day believed. Oh no, they were far more advanced than that. You see, they were merely using a figure of speech to indicate that lice aren't animals in the halachic sense, but are in the category of domem (non-living things). Lice, according to this theory, are actually "organic programs" that reproduce, but really, they're not alive in the halachic sense.

To use his words:

So when Chazal say that lice come from dirt, they mean that spiritually lice have a Nefesh HaDomem, and Halachicly their status is that of dust, not animal life. The fact that scientists will tell you lice reproduce means nothing here. They see a Mommy louse, a Tatty louse, and a baby louse, but thats just the way this construct was programmed to function.

He continues by analogizing it to plant life:

Plants also “reproduce” – the pollination process involves moving a seed (the pollen) to another "organ" (the stigma) which causes reproduction - so we have a Daddy plant, a Mommy plant, and a baby plant -- but plants arent animals. And Chazal had a tradition that neither are lice, Halachicly, because the way lice are reproduced -- with a Mommy louse and a Daddy louse -- does not involve the result in the creation of an animal Nefesh the way the reproduction of other animals does.

(The "stigma???" I'm pretty sure he meant to say the stamen, but the correct organ is the pistil. -- see UPDATE below) In any event, no one suggested that plants were animals. But saying that something that is clearly alive (lice) aren't even afforded the status of animals??

He sums up by saying:

And so they concluded that based on what they had by way of tradition regarding nature of reproduction of lice, that they "come from dirt", so to speak, i.e. they are really Domem, and so it is permitted to kill them on Shabbos, because the prohibition to kill does nto apply to Domem.


It's OK to crush a domem on Shabbos? Is that what he's saying? I can take a sledgehammer and go out to my quarry and start crushing rocks? Rocks are a domem and apparently, if lice are a domem and it's OK to crush them, then rocks should be OK too.

It's stunning how here he says that things can be interpreted in a non-literal sense, yet, heaven forbid you try to re-interpret other sayings of Chazal...

The Wolf

UPDATE: After seeing Mike Koplow's comment, I looked up "stigma" in the dictionary and found that it, indeed, is a part of the pistil (specifically the part that receives the pollen.) As such, the FT Mod was correct there. I offer my apologies for that mistake.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

Much as it grates on me to come to these guys' defense, I looked up "stigma" in Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate. Def. 3b: "the usu. apical part of the pistil of a flower which receives the pollen grains and on which they germinate."

Anonymous said...

I was so happy not having to read anything about Frumteens for so long. And now you had to go ahead and ruin it all :)

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Let's see, a Tatty louse and a Daddy plant. The plant is a Goy?

Anonymous said...

Frumteens got it right this time! Lice indeed used to spontaneously generate, but that was back when the universe followed the geocentric model of the solar system. All that changed when the universe went heliocentric, and changed the rules of nature so that lice now need a Mommy and Daddy to create more little lice.

The Jewish Freak said...

If lice are not alive in the halachic sense then is it permitted to eat them? - JF

Anonymous said...

That's not even CLOSE to the worst thing on Frumteens.

Anonymous said...

Wait, the Jewish Freak is right? Acc. to the FT mode, why isn't it permitted to eat them? Can someone ask him that?

Rebeljew said...

The concept of lice eggs is specifically excluded by the gemorra.

See a slightly different defense of the Chabad apologetic. Yes, the Lubavitch Rebbe defended the concept.

I just posted on this

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I never understood that whole lice don't have eggs in the Gemara thing... isn't there a Talmudic saying comparing the "eggs of lice" to the "horns of the re’eim"?

Anonymous said...

not only can one eat lice, but according to The Moderator one should be able to eat cloned humans, as they also according to him have no neshoma

Ben Avuyah said...

Yes, the last statement by anonymous touches the most horrfying aspect of the moderator. I think if he suspected a human had been cloned, if said cloned human came over and asked him what time mincha was, he would appear to have no problem bashing said cloned humans head in.

whats the problem? no soul, therefore "it's" not alive by halachic defenition, which defines reality...right ?

Rebeljew said...


Abaye in the Gemorra says that the term "lice eggs" refers to a separate species. It does not refer to what we call "nits".

Anonymous said...

"not only can one eat lice..."

The Rambam prohibits eating spontaneously generated creatures as a seperate mitzvah.

Anonymous said...

The comparison between crushing lice and crushing rocks is ridiculous. The issue with lice is whether or not there is an issur of netilas neshamah. By rocks, if there's any issur other than muktzeh, it would be tochen, or a toladah of tochen, since by crushing them they are ground into small pieces. That doesn't happen when you crush a louse (I imagine, never having had the experience myself), so tochen wouldn't be an issue.

In brief, with this comparison you're trying to make him look foolish, but are not arguing on the merits. All you're doing though is making yourself look foolish by exposing your ignorance of hilchos shabbos.

BrooklynWolf said...


But if lice are domem, is there really an issue of netilas neshama? Domem aren't alive! They would be like sophisticated moving rocks - or even robots.

When you crush a louse, you certainly get smaller parts, much as when you crush a rock. I think the analogy is valid (as long as you accept the premise that a louse is a domem).

The Wolf