These shall you eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall you eat.(Leviticus 11:9)
Whatever has scales has fins, but there are those which have fins but no scales. (Tractate Niddah 51b)
(We gratefully acknowledge the generous assistance of Dr. Danny Golani–an ichthyologist from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, author of the book “Guide to the Fishes of Israel” and of Dr. Itai Plaot, lecturer in biology, Faculty of Science and Scientific Education, Haifa University–Oranim. A special thanks to the ichthyology research staff at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.)
In this essay we will discuss the signs of purity in fishes, as given by Chazal, and we will clearly prove that not only did Chazal err and cause others to err, permitting the forbidden and forbidding the permitted, but they even gave us entirely bogus signs. The whole issue of fish and their signs is naught but mistakes on top of confusion and Chazal, along with the Rishonim and Achronim, scout around in it like blind men in a chimney. There is more error and nonsense than truth and good sense.
In general, in recent years this issue of “whatever has scales has fins” has become a sanctified argument held by Orthodox Jewish outreach people. Finding no lie repulsive if it is useful, those people use this statement not only as a law given to Moses at Sinai, but as an eternal proof for the existence of G-d. (In the vein of: “See? There isn’t even one fish in all the oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams which has scales but no fins. Only G-d could have known this fact, and only He could make such a sweeping statement about all the fish in the world.”)
Therefore, at the start of work on this essay we turned to the Smithsonian Institute, in the US capital, and asked the experts there: “Is there a fish which has scales and has no fins?” Their answer came quickly: “Of course there are fish which have scales and no fins at all.” They also generously sent material about and pictures of a fish which has scales and no fins. This fish is the Monopterus cuchia (also called Amphipnous cuchia) and it lives in the waters of India. We show here its picture, as it appears in the book “The Fishes of India,” written by Dr. Francis Day, published in 1878. These kind researchers even sent us x-ray pictures of the fish to show that it is a regular fish (although this has no practical application in our case).
Monopterus cuchia. A fish with scales and no fins
Now we will go into detail about the whole issue of signs in fishes. This you should know from the start: The Torah gave the sign of fins and scales for all that lives in the water — “These shall you eat of all that are in the waters… And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination to you” (Leviticus, chapter 11). The signs were not necessarily given about what zoologist now call “fishes,” but about all creatures living in the water. Thus Nachmanides explained on Leviticus 11:10, “Of all that move in the waters–R’ Abraham [Ibn Ezra] said that those which move are small creatures created from the water, and ‘living things’ are created from male and female. But in my opinion, ‘that move in the waters’ includes the fishes which swim in waters, for it refers to movement, while ‘living thing’ means those creatures, living in water, which have legs and walk upon them as animals do on land. And the law for all these is the same [the law of fins and scales applies to all creatures living in waters]. In the midrash Torat Cohanim (chapter 3, section 7) it is said: “‘Thing’ means water creatures, ‘living’ is written to include the son of a mermaid. Is it possible he may be impurifying, as the son of Chachinai says? That is why it reads ‘abomination’.”
It is brought in the Sifra on Shemini, chapter 3, section 4: “How do we know [that the prohibitions about fins and scales fall on all creatures in the waters, including] a creature with bones which does not sexually reproduce and a creature without bones which does sexually reproduce [for more about living creatures which do not reproduce, see what we wrote in Pamphlet No. 1], to the point you include even galim [we do not know what these are] and frogs that grow in the oceans and on the land? For it is written: ‘Anything which has no fins’…” And Nachmanides brought this statement in his dicta on Sefer HaMitzvot, root nine.
Therefore, it is clear that the demand of fins and scales is for all creatures in the water and not only fishes.
Now see how Chazal’s rule that “anything which has scales has fins” falls by the wayside.
The Ma’adanei Yom Tov on chapter 3 of tractate Chulin (in the Rosh section, p. 67, subparagraph 5) raised an exciting possibility: “And when I was the av beit din in the holy community of Vienna, the wise man Aaron Rophe brought me a fish which was called, in their language, stincus marinus, and is found in the Spanish seas…It has scales on all its body and has no fins; it merely has four legs like those of an animal…I was greatly perplexed by this and did not know how to answer. I only said that it is possibly a hybrid which had not appeared before the giving of the Torah…It might be even a hybrid which appeared after Chazal received that everything which has scales has fins. But now I think I have a better answer… the rule that ‘everything which has scales has fins’ speaks only of fish, and not of animals living in the sea…” Here you have a small glimpse into the thoughts of our rabbis and how their minds work: when factual reality contradicts the words of Chazal, they either change reality or change the words of Chazal. Here the Ma’adanei Yom Tov grabbed both of these options. In his first argument he determines that Chazal’s rule is not correct in our days because perhaps (about the issue of “perhaps” see below) fish became hybridized and changes had occurred, so it is possible to find a fish with scales but no fins (according to this argument, one who buys fish in the supermarket, such as Nile Perch, must check both its scales and its fins, lest he have before him one of those fish which has changed). But in his second argument he has already changed the words of Chazal and said that they refer only to fish and not to animals (and lucky are we who once again do not have to check every fish in the supermarket). With this argument he contradicted both Nachmanides and the explicit midrash.
The Pri Chadash by Rav Chizkiyah Di Silva (Yoreh Deah, Laws of the signs of fish, paragraph 83, subsection 3) disagrees with the Ma’adanei Yom Tov and permits the stincus marinus! Thus he wrote after citing the Ma’adanei Yom Tov: “He allows himself to raise foreign matters in print, things which border on uprooting the borders and landmarks set by the previous generations, and in their place allows room to err and cast doubt on the words of our holy and truthful rabbis, OBM. For just as one hybrid was created, others could have been, and the rule of our rabbis, OBM, would, Heaven forbid, fall to the dust. He could have answered his questioner that perhaps the fins fell off before the creature was raised from the waters, or that it might have grown them afterwards…It is appropriate for us to search for arguments that would uphold the words of our rabbis OBM and not to say things calling into doubt the tradition of our rabbis OBM.”
Before us is interesting testimony from one of the great Halachic arbiters, who openly states that actual reality does not matter in the final decision, but only the words of our rabbis OBM do! Even faced with clear facts, “it is appropriate for us to search for arguments that would uphold the words of our rabbis OBM.” With your own eyes you saw that it has scales but no fins? Say: “Perhaps the fins fell off before it was raised from the waters,” or answer: “It might have grown fins afterwards.” There is no end to the nonsense. (About the magic word “perhaps,” which settles any doubts, an entire article could be written.)
The Kreti U’Pleti (by Rabbi Jonathan the son of Natan Neta Eibischitz) on Yoreh Deah, paragraph 83, subsection 3, wrote things which we at Daat Emet agree with–that Chazal spoke of the majority and of things which were reasonable to them, and did not mean to set unshakable foundations: “‘Anything which has scales has fins.’ It seems that this speaks of the majority of fishes. In nature we follow the majority; there are many exceptions to the rule in nature, as naturalists will attest to, but the Torah and the commandments follow the majority. Most of those which have scales also have fins, and if we find an animal which has no fins, this does not contradict the majority–it is an exception. Chazal spoke of the majority of fishes, and therefore the poisonous Spanish fish which has scales but no fins does not contradict the words of Chazal. There is no need to divide between creatures of the sea, for it is a predicament; but all animals are included under the name of ‘fish’.” Words of good taste can be recognized, and the claim that “There is no fish in the world which has scales but no fins” falls completely in the dust.
The Gemara in Tractate Chulin 66b says: “The Merciful One could have written only ‘scales’ and not ‘fins’! R’ Abahu said, and thus they also learned in the school of R’ Ishmael: ‘To exalt the Torah and glorify it’ (Isaiah 42:21).” From these words of the Gemara it seems that there is no fish at all with scales but no fins, to the extent that it is for naught — other than to exalt the Torah and glorify it — that it is written “fins” in the Torah. And the author of the Shoel U’Meshiv responsa (first edition, part 3, paragraph 54), settled the words of the Gemara thus: “Accordingly, the rule that anything which has scales has fins is not a mere generalization — see what the Achronim wrote, and especially the Kreti U’Pleti. Therefore ‘fins’ had to be written so that we would be able to determine each case on its own, not merely relying on the majority of cases. But the Gemara’s question is: since the majority of those which have scales have fins, why is ‘fins’ written? This means that we should simply follow the majority, and there is no need to mention ‘fins.’ Therefore, it is written ‘fins’ only to exalt the Torah and glorify it.”
So you see, you wise student who demands truth, that this rule of Chazal’s, “Anything which has scales has fins” came neither from the Divine spirit nor from the Shechinah, but from human reasoning alone. People saw that most fish which have scales have fins and so they made a rule – and in truth, most fish have fins, just as most mammals have extremities; there is nothing unusual about that.
The signs which our rabbis gave clearly and decisively turn out, in most cases, as inexact or utterly incorrect. We will bring here two examples (from other matters) of our rabbis giving signs which do not stand up to the test of reality. In the Mishnah (Tractate Niddah 51b), it is written: “All that has scales has fins, though there are those which have fins but no scales. All that have horns have split hooves (for only kosher animals have horns–Rashi).” But the Tosfot came and determined that this rule is not unambiguous (Chulin 59a, s.v. elu hen): “‘Anything which has horns has hooves’ — these are the words of Rabbi Dosa, while the sages said that even if it has horns, the matter is uncertain, for it might be a non-kosher animal.” Even according to the Ran (in tractate Rosh Hashanah, chapter three [on the Rif]), who says that one may not blow shofar using the horn of a non-kosher animal, we understand that there are horned non-kosher animals. Thus he wrote (s.v. v’mihu): “Even though they decided that one may blow the shofar with any horn other than a cow’s, it refers only to pure animals, but not to impure ones.” The Tosfot Yom Tov, who saw this difficulty, settled it in his commentary on the Mishnah (tractate Niddah, chapter 6, halacha 9): “Here [in the mishnah] it is spoken only of horns which are split, wrapped, or notched.” According to the Tosfot Yom Tov there are impure animals which have horns, albeit not wrapped. Thus you see the changes which befall the signs given by Chazal: the Mishnah says everything which has horns is a kosher animal; the commentators come along and say that it is not “horns” which are meant, but “wrapped horns.”
The mishnah in tractate Niddah 48a states: “The upper cannot come until the lower does.” That is, to be thought mature (so that she can be given the widow’s release from marriage) a girl who has turned 12 must show two hairs from her pubic regions (which is “the lower”). But our rabbis disagreed: according to Rabbi Meir, if she has grown breasts (which is “the upper” sign) it is by no means necessary that she has pubic hairs, while in the Sages’ the opinion, if her breasts have grown she must have pubic hair; even if it is seen that she has no hair there, it should be said they “were, and fell out.” And in Niddah 48b, “Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel says: amongst city girls the lower comes quickly, for they are used to bathing, while amongst country girls the upper comes quickly, for they are used to grinding [and from the movement of their arms their breasts spread–Rashi].”
So you see that our rabbis determined rules according to the reality they knew, for if the Shechinah or the Divine spirit spoke through them, how would it be possible for Rabbi Meir to deem the upper sign capable of appearing without the lower, for the Sages to disagree, and for Rabbi Simeon the son of Gamliel to differentiate between city girls and country girls? See the responsa Yachin U’Boaz, part two, section 20, that even though one rules according to the Sages, it is only a stringency necessary when in doubt: “If they did not verify the lower sign, even if she has the upper sign, she is still under doubt [in complete contradiction of what is written in the mishnah!]…therefore she requires a getdue to doubt.”
Now come, you who seeks knowledge, to the other signs our rabbis gave about fishes. We shall see how they, in their study halls, devised signs without any careful verification; these signs seemed to them valid only because of the reality which they knew. And from their mistakes you can learn that the Shechinah did not speak through their throats when they set these signs.
- The Gemara in tractate Avodah Zarah 39b: “All whose head and spine are recognizable” (“All whose head and spine are recognizable–for all fishes can be known to be kosher or non-kosher by their heads. The non-kosher ones have pointy heads and have no spine”–Rashi).
Chazal permitted eating a cut fish on which one cannot identify the scales, based on another sign–if it has a wide head and a spine. It is unclear what they mean by “wide head,” and when we asked ichthyologists they unambiguously said that there is no distinction between wide heads and pointy ones when it comes to kosher and non-kosher fish. As for the spine, you ought to know that all bony fishes have spines, be they kosher or not. All cartilaginous fish have cartilage spine. Thus, there is no fish without a spine.
The Rashba wrote, in Torat HaBayit HaKatzar, third bayit, part one, p. 66: “The heads of non-kosher fishes are pointy and they have no spines, but kosher fishes, for the most part, do not have pointy heads and they do have spines. Therefore the great teachers instructed that all fishes whose heads and spines are recognizable as belonging to kosher fish, that is, their heads are not pointy and they have spines, even if we have found no scales on them, are permitted, since they either had scales which fell off or their scales had not yet grown. It is appropriate, though, to be stringent, for we have not found one of the Geonimor authors of Halachic works who wrote so.” It is evident that the Rashba felt this sign is not compatible with reality, and he did well to rule that it is inappropriate to rely upon this sign.
The Rosh, in his commentary on Avodah Zarah (chapter 2, paragraph 41), wrote: “The head and the spine were not considered part of the signs of purity, for perhaps some impure fishes resemble pure fishes when it comes to the head and the spine, though we do not know of any. In any case, if one sees a fish whose head and spine he recognizes, he should not suspect it is a non-kosher fish, for we know of none–that is, they are not common among us.”
He referred to the reality of fishes as he knew it in his time and place, and by no means treated the sign of the head and spine as words of the living G-d.
And thus the Rama ruled in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, section 73, paragraph 4: “If we find a fish which has a wide head and a spine, it is permissible for eating, for certainly it had scales. But if the fish is whole and we see no scales, one should not rely on the head and the spine.”
Now it is known and clear as the sun that one should not rely at all on the head and spine, for all bony fish have bony spines and some have wide heads while some have pointy heads. Our rabbis, therefore, ruled while lacking relevant knowledge and caused religious people to stumble by eating non-kosher fish!
- In tractate Bechorot 7a: “Non-kosher fish are viviparous, kosher fish lay eggs.”
First let us clarify reality. There are two kinds of fertilization: one internal, in which the male impregnates the female and the female then lays fertilized eggs or births live offspring. The second type of fertilization is common to most fishes and is external. The female lays the unfertilized eggs, and afterwards the male fertilizes them. In this respect, there is no difference between a kosher fish and a non-kosher one. We find that our rabbis erred in this sign, too.
In tractate Avodah Zarah 40a they disagreed about whether non-kosher fishes lay eggs (we have already said that most fishes, kosher and not, lay eggs). According to Rabbi Dostai, non-kosher fishes do not lay eggs at all, while Rabbi Zeira said that even some non-kosher fishes lay eggs, but their offspring are born inside (in the mother’s intestines after the eggs are fertilized–Rashi). And both sages erred, for many non-kosher fish lay eggs which are unfertilized and undergo external fertilization — such as all types of morays.
Muraena helena. According to Chazal, the eggs of Muraena helena are permitted because it lays its eggs externally and thus Chazal led religious Jews into the error of eating the forbidden.
- An additional sign that they gave to distinguish between kosher and non-kosher is in tractate Avodah Zarah 40a: “These are the signs of the eggs: all that are oval or spherical, if one side is pointed and the other rounded — they are pure. If both sides are pointed or both rounded — they are impure. The yolk outside and white inside — impure; white outside and yolk inside — pure; yolk and white mixed — it is the egg of a reptile.”
And the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah, paragraph 83, section 8), ruled: “Fish eggs, if they have two ends round and thick or two ends pointed, are impure.”
Here is another mistake: The eggs of most fish are not visible. They are transparent and it is impossible to see the shape. On the other hand, the Tilapia has eggs rounded on both ends, but it is known to be a kosher fish! We find that the Shach (Yoreh Deah, paragraph 73, subsection 26) also erred, ruling, “But certainly, if both ends are rounded or pointed — even if a man who observes the laws of kashrut says he removed them from a specific fish and says that these are the fish and these are its innards, he is not to be trusted, for he contradicts the Torah, and it is simple.”
Even our rabbis the Tosfot (on Avodah Zarah 40a, s.v. amar Rava) rejected this sign, explaining: “It means that there are eggs of non-kosher fish which are similar to those of kosher fish…So, the signs are not from the Torah, and one should not rely upon the signs of fish eggs.” Obviously they realized that most signs–are in error.
Come see how Chazal’s signs caused our rabbis the Rishonim to eat the catfish, an utterly impure fish!
Rabbenu Tam wrote (in Tosfot on Chulin 64a, s.v. simanin): “And this is what we rely upon to eat the fish called barbata in [Old] French–we do not know if its scales fall off as it is drawn from the water; we rely upon the signs of its eggs.” And they wrote on Avodah Zarah 40a, s.v. amar Rava ksh’nimochu: “Rabbenu Tam learned from here that the signs of fish eggs are from the Torah, and therefore the catfish is permitted.” What a wonderful thing. This fish never had a single scale, not when just spawned nor when old. What did our rabbis, who saw that the catfish has no scales, say? As the Rosh wrote on tractate Avodah Zarah (chapter 2, paragraph 43): “One should rely upon them [the eggs] to permit the catfish, for although one does not find on it scales, perhaps they fell off.” A tasty treat! Our rabbis immediately fantasize that the catfish drops its scales as it is pulled from the water! This is really ridiculous. Think about how fast the catfish has to do that in order not to be caught with its scales on.
Clarias gariepinus. Rabbenu Tam and the Rosh permitted the catfish, a fish which hads no scales, based on Chazal’s signs.
We have already found a similar invention by Chazal in tractate Chulin 66a: “He now has [scales] and will in the future drop them, when he rises from the water, as do the Akunas and Apunas [types of tuna]…this is permitted.” But such things never were.
Thus writes the zoologist Menachem Dor in his book HaChai b’Yimei haMiqra, haMishnah, v’haTalmud, pg. 176: “It is clear that all these are big fishes, important as sources of food. Probably, because they have a few scales, [Chazal] assumed they slough off their scales as they rise from the water.” Tuna really do have a few scales, but the catfish hasn’t even one scale as a saving grace.
And in Hagahot Ashrei on Avodah Zarah, chapter 2, section 41, they forbade the catfish, not because of the signs but because of dreams: “Rashbam wrote in the name of Rabbenu Shlomo that there is a kosher fish called the catfish, and R’ Yehuda heChasid said that one who eats the catfish will not taste of the Leviathan’s flesh [in Paradise]. Rabbenu Ephraim once permitted it, and he was told in a dream that he had permitted the forbidden, whereby he rescinded his permission.”
- In tractate Chulin 63b: “Avimi the son of R’ Abahu said: there are 700 species of fishes.” But we know of 25,000 species of fishes. (Perhaps we should say, as the Ma’adanei Yom Tov above, that after Chazal’s time the species multiplied?) The Tosfot on tractate Chulin 63b, s.v. ofot relied upon this rule: “One who wants to eat a fish without scales, even if he is not expert on whether it would have, in the future, grown them, or whether it had sloughed them off while rising from the water — if he knows 700 species of non-kosher fish and knows it is not one of them, he may permit it, for there are no more than 700 species of non-kosher fish.” [We know that there are many more than 700 species of non-kosher fish.] And they also wrote on Chulin 66b, s.v. kol sheyesh lo kaskeset yesh lo snapir: “And if you say, how did the Sages know this and what is written above [on fol. 63b], that there are only 700 species of non-kosher fish — how did they know this with such certainty that they permitted everything else? [Apparently,] we cannot say that Adam, having given them all names, passed down to future generations that they were unkosher, for he knew them all — because from the Scripture we only know that he gave names to animals and birds, and although it is said that he knew G-d’s name also, ‘I am the Lord, this is My name’ — this is the name by which Adam called Me” (Genesis Rabbah, chapter 17), in any event, nothing like this is said about fishes. Yet we should say that the verse, “Whatever Adam called each living creature” (Genesis 2:20) implies [that he gave names to] the fishes, also. So we should say that this tradition [of 700 non-kosher fishes] originates from Adam; and if you insist that Adam did not give names to fishes, we should say that this tradition is a halacha given to Moses at Sinai.“
This is the method: Sages make things up and therefore err in their words. The Tosfot comes along and turns these things, with a wave of the hand, into a tradition originating from Adam or given to Moses at Sinai. It is not that the Tosfot themselves had a tradition on the matter, but that is what seemed reasonable to them, for how did Chazal know these signs? It must be from Sinai; else where could it be from? See what we wrote on these matters in our article on the portion of Shemini.
- The Gemara in Avodah Zarah 39b permits fish brine: “Which is brine in which fish is distinguishable [and which is therefore kosher]? Any in which a single small fish… swims.” Rashi explains: “Small fish — it grows on its own in a brine of kosher fish. If there is a brine of non-kosher fish, small fishes do not grow in it.” We have already explained in Pamphlet 1 that living creatures do not sprout on their own from inanimate matter, so this rule also falls into a well.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah section 83, paragraph 8: “Now the custom to buy fish eggs, whole or crushed, has spread, even from non-Jews, as long as the eggs are red. But the black eggs are not eaten at all.”
Our rabbis discussed this; see the responsa Shoel V’Nish’al, part one, Yoreh Deah, section 32, in the name of the Pri Chadash and the Pri To’ar, who wondered about the Shulchan Aruch’s sign and concluded: “What he [the author of the Shulchan Aruch] wrote refers only to his location, for wherever things were tested and examined, it was for that location only, but in other locations it is possible that even he forbade the fish.”
Again, see for yourself how our rabbis spoke based on their personal experience, having received no signs from Sinai nor from the Divine spirit; and from here you can conclude that the words of Chazal in the Talmud are based on the conditions of their own times and places, and on their own logic. It is no wonder that they caused us to stumble in eating non-kosher fish.
- “A decisive sign in fish — for all fishes whose tails are split, if the split parts are equal, the fish has scales, and if one of the tail parts is longer than the other, it does not have scales.” (Shiltei Giborim on the Rif in Chulin, chapter three, p. 23) Even this sign was rejected by our rabbis due to reality. The Maharsham’s responsa, part four, section 94: “There is a certain book, written by one of the naturalists, in which all sorts of fishes are pictured and named by their names; and there it is written that the fish called ashturian is called in German Stehr…it has a tail divided in half, one part longer than the other and its form is like the fish we call tshitshaha. Rabbeynu Tam himself permitted this fish.” About this fish (ashturian or stirl) Israel Natan Heshil wrote in the newspaper HaModia on 3 Menachem Av 5759 (July 16, 1999), that there was a rabbinical debate was whether to permit it or forbid it. We will list two more fishes, the hemiramphus and the cheilopogon. Both have split tails with one part longer than the other, and both are absolutely kosher.
Our rabbis forbade the permitted in telling us that a fish with a split tail, one half longer than the other, could not have scales.
Again: our rabbis made Halachic rulings according to their own perception of reality, and not based on a tradition leading back to Adam, Moses, or Sinai.
And if in the Halacha there are many errors, what can we say of the Aggadah? We will show you who seeks truth the fruits of our rabbis’ imagination, as brought in the newspaper HaModia of March 24, 2000, and you can judge for yourself.
Fishes were exiled with the nation of Israel — The Jerusalem Talmud, tractate Taanit, chapter four, folio 69b: “Rabbi Chananya son of Rabbi Abahu said: there are 700 species of kosher fish and 800 species of kosher grasshoppers, and an uncountable number of birds — and all of them went with the nation of Israel into the Babylonian exile and returned with them, aside from the fish called shibuta. How were the fish exiled? Rabbi Chona the son of Joseph said: through underground vents they were exiled and through underground vents they returned.” (We do not know the reason for the betrayal of the shibuta — the matter needs further investigation…)
The fish who rests on the Sabbath — The author of Taamei Minhagim brought the words of the Radak: “There is a fish in the seas which does not swim on the Sabbath, but rests all day long near the shore or a rock.” And the book Pardes HaMelech, Minhagei Shabbat Kodesh, brings “a wonderful story…about a wise man who investigated as to the habitat of this fish, which is only in Persia, and went there…and he saw that when it was Friday at sunset [it would be interesting to know whether this fish judged sunset as did Rabbenu Tam or as did the GR”A, see Pamphlet 4]… it fell to the shore. The whole Sabbath Gentiles hit it with spears and swords, but it did not move until the end of the Sabbath.” (There is an opinion which states that if they hit it with swords all Sabbath long, even after Sabbath it couldn’t move much…)
“There is a fish which resembles a long snake, called ulza. If you cut it into many pieces and throw it away, the pieces will rejoin to form a whole.” [Chochmat HaNefesh by the author of the Rokeach]
“There is a fish which is a ruminant, and it is called fish.” [Midrash Talpiyot by R’ Eliyahu ben Avraham Shlomo Cohen of Izmir (died 1729)]
What more can we say?