Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sacred Nonsense

R. Yitzchak Moshe Erlanger is a big-name Mashpia in Israel. If you will look at the Hebrew Wikipedia entry for משפיע you'll see R. Erlanger is mentioned as one of the famous Mashpi'im in Israel.

R. Erlanger is also known as the author of the very-popular (among chasidim, teen-aged ones in particular), anonymously-published booklets named "חסידות". As such, he can be considered as an unofficial representative of mainstream Chassidic thought (l'afikai Chabad-style Chassidus).

I found a written copy of a speech he gave about Emunah. I picked it up and I was surprised by the content. I mean, I always knew that some people have these kind of worldview, but I never thought that such a famous Mashpia as R. Erlanger, disseminates such views. There actually is some truth to what he says, but the way he says it . . . Well, see for yourself. Here's one page, I highlighted the sentences I found bothersome.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why Joseph Didn't Study Taharos

How do we know that Joseph didn't study all of Taharos before he was sold to Egypt? The Baal Haturim (Gen. 37:3) writes as follows:

וישראל אהב את יוסף מכל בניו, כי בן זקונים הוא לו. 'זקנים' כתיב ... נוטריקון זרעים קדשים נשים ישועות מועד

According to the Baal Haturim, Yaakov Avinu learned with Joseph 5 orders of Mishnayos, all of which are alluded to with the defective spelling of Zekunim, which is interpreted through means of Rashei Teivos. As the Baal Haturim understands, Yaakov learned with Joseph, Zera'im, Mo'ed, Nashim, Nezikin (which is alluded to in the Notrikon "Yeshu'os", see BT Shabbos 31a) and Kodshim. But what is strange with this Notrikon, is that there's one order that's missing! The order of Taharos, which includes the discussions of Halachic impurity and purity, is not in the list! It is all the more strange, because the Baal Haturim actually stresses the defective spelling of זקנים. If it would have been spelled in full (plene spelling), it would've had an extra vav, which could have been understood as alluding to Ve'da'as (ודעת) which corresponds with Taharos (see BT ibid.)! By citing the Ksiv (the way the word is written) instead of the Kri (the way the word is read), the Baal Haturim actually undermined his Notrikon!

I saw an answer to the above question in a very recently published sefer named Imerei Menachem. It's a peculiar answer, and anachronistic (an understatement). But it has a surprising source.

Trans.: The world asks why Yaakov didn't learn Taharos with Joseph. - In the name of my spouse, may she live, since Joseph was still not married than, and it is not customary to learn all of the order of Taharos with an unmarried person. Meaning: tractate Niddah which is in Seder Taharos is off-bounds for unmarried teens in the Chasidish world, and if you will remember correctly, you will know that Yaakov came from a prominent Chasidishe family. therefore, of course Taharos can't be included in the Notrikon, because Joseph was still not in a position to finish it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maccabees - Said Who

What does Maccabees mean?

The Wikipedia entry [link] is quite pitiful.
S. from On The Main Line explains [link] says we will never know, but it sure is fun to guess. And guess he does.
Mitchell First, over at the Seforim Blog [link] has an annotated discussion, basing himself on how it was originally spelled in Hebrew.

And read the book, if you please [link to I Link to II].

Happy Chanukah!

The Mud-Mouse in Support of the Sweat-Louse and On Internal Censorship in Me'iri

In his fascinating sefer, "Hishtanut Hatvayim Behalacha" (The Transformation of Nature in Halacha, Jerusalem 1988), R. Neriah Gutel discusses the implications the scientific discovery that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation has on Halacha. R. Gutel discusses the two approaches found in the poskim, regarding this problem. Both of the approaches were firstly presented by R. Yitzchak Lampronti. The discussion hinges on the question whether we should uphold Chazal's permission to kill lice in Shabbos or we should prohibit it in light of modern scientific discoveries.

In his approbation to the sefer, R. Avigdor Nevnazel writes the following interesting note:
אדמו"ר הגרשז"א [הגאון רבי שלמה זלמן אויערבאך] שליט"א נוקט דבענין הכינים הלכו חז"ל לפי מראית העין. ולולי דבריו, אחרי בקשת המחילה, נלענ"ד דהכינים שלנו אינם הכינים שעליהם דברו חז"ל, כמו שגם עכבר שחציו בשר וחציו אדמה אינו מוכר למדעני זמנינו. והמדע הכופר סותר את עצמו אם מצד אחד הוא מקבל את דברי פסטר האומר ששום חי אינו נוצר מעצמו ומצד שני את דרוין האומר שכולם נוצרו מעצמם. והאמת לא כדברי זה ולא כדברי זה אלא רובם כדברי פסטר אבל כגון הכינים והעכבר הנ"ל כדברי דרוין
He says that the lice Chazal spoke about is a species that does spontaneously generate, and it simply unknown to modern zoologists, just like the half-mud mouse which is also not known to scientist. And he also claims that atheist modern science contradicts itself by accepting Louis Pasteur's words about spontaneous generation while at the same time accepting Charles Darwin's theory about the development of  the species. Instead, he says, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Most species do not spontaneously generate, rather they sexually reproduce, while some species, like the lice and mice Chazal mentioned, do generate spontaneously, but miraculously no such species is known to modern science.

R. Nevnazel's approach is not uniquely his. This is also the approach of the R. Shamai Gross, Dayan of Belz, Jerusalem and others as enumerated in R. Natan Slifkin's fantastic book "Sacred Monsters". What struck me as interesting is his citing of the Mud-Mouse as support for the Sweat-Lice. Classical circular reasoning.

Another interesting note by R. Nevnazel in the aforementioned approbation, concerns the Me'iri who famously writes that discriminating laws in the Talmud apply only to the gentiles of yore but not to [most of] modern-day non-Jews who are גדורות בדרכי הדתות. (See Meiri Brachos 58a; ibid. 58b; Shabbos 156a; Yuma 84b; Yevamos 98a; Ksubos 15b; Gittin 62a; Bava Kama 37b; ibid. 113a; Bava Metzia 2a; ibid. 27a; ibid. 59a; Avoda Zara 20a; ibid. 22a; ibid. 26a; Horiyos 11a). In what I'm guessing is an attempt to reject R. Gutel's assertion that the discriminatory Halachos of the Talmud relating to non-Jews changed because the nature of non-Jews changed, R. Nevnazel writes as follows:
שמעתי את ההשערה שהמאירי כתב מה שכתב מפני שיד גוים היתה משמשת בספריו. כידוע בדורות מאוחרים כתבו הרבה דברים בגלל הצנזורה, ודוגמאות בולטות לכך בש"ס וילנא (בין השאר מובאות מהמאירי), במשנה ברורה, באור שמח, בערוך השלחן
He reports that he heard a supposition that the Me'iri wrote what he wrote as a type of internal censorship, because non-Jews used his seforim, and he didn't want to offend them or he was afraid of them. This is already mentioned by the Chasam Sofer (printed in Ateres Chachamim, 14) regarding the notes printed in the name of the Me'iri in the Vilna edition of the Talmud Bavli, Bava Kama 38a and 113a. The Chasam Sofer writes as follows:

התם בב"ק ... הפסק בשם המאירי מצוה למוחקו כי לא יצא מפה קדשו והוא דעת האומרים לרשע צדיק באמונתו יחיה, ויעויין בהקדמת בן-יוחי
It is interesting that the Chasam Sofer cites Ben Yochai. Ben Yochai was authored by R. Moshe Kunitz as a response and a challenge to R. Yaakov Emdin's anti-Zohar polemic Mitpachat Sefarim. As Dan Rabinowitz notes ("Nekkudot: The Dots That Connect Us", Hakirah vol. 2) "What is truly fascinating is that nothing in R. Kunitz’s biography would cause one to choose him as a defender of the authenticity of the Zohar. He was solicited by R. Aaron Chorin, a primary founder of the Hungarian branch of the Reform movement of Judaism, to write a responsum permitting various innovations. The fact that R. Kunitz allowed an organ in the synagogue is certainly indicative of his reformist tendencies". And the Chasam Sofer specifically didn't like him. As Dan writes in that article "R. Simeon Sofer (1842-1906) writes that his father, R. Moses Sofer (Hatam Sofer) had wistfully hoped the authorship of these two works could have been reversed, i.e., with R. Emden defending the Zohar from the attacks on it by R. Kunitz." Dr. Marc Shapiro also wrote recently about it, but he didn't elaborate as he is planning to write about it in the next issue of Milin Havivin. As he later wrote in the comments to the linked post, he will specifically address the Chasam Sofer's issue with R. Kunitz.

Returning to the issue of the Me'iri, considering how many times the Me'iri repeats this idea, even in "harmless" places (i.e. where the censor wouldn't care) like Shabbos 156a, or the places where he goes out of his way to point out that this or that nondiscriminatory Halacha applies even to non-Jews who are not גדורות בדרכי הדתות like in Kesubos 3b or Gitin 58a or Kiddushin 17b or Bava Kama 113b or Kesubos 6b, or in places where he uses it to answer a kushya like in Bava Metzia 2a, it seems very unlikely that this was some kind of internal censorship of the Me'iri, rather this was his genuine opinion.

R. Dovid Zvi Hilman (Zfunot, vol. 1 pp. 65-72) vigorously defends the Chasam Sofer and writes:
כל הקורא את כל (ההדגשה במקור) לשונות המאירי בדינים אלו יווכח בעליל שכוונתו בהן אינה אלא ככוונת כל מדפיסי הספרים ברוסיא ופולין במודעותיהם שבראשי הספרים ובשינויים שהכניסו בגוף הספרים שהוכרחו לעשותם בגלל הצנזורא. ומוקצה מן הדעת לשער שח"ו בקושטא ס"ל להמאירי הכי
He then goes on to cite many citations in Me'iri, emphasizing the words גדורות בדרכי הדתות and similar terms, but he doesn't provide any explanation - besides for boldfaced letters - as to why he sees that as evidence that the Me'iri only wrote so "for the gentiles" and he didn't really hold so. On the contrary, as I showed earlier, the Me'iri is at pains to point out that certain Halachos DO apply to non-Jews who are not גדורות בדרכי הדתות. Why the inconsistency if he does not believe in what he writes?

Monday, December 19, 2011

What did Avraham Avinu wear?

A Shtreimel and Bekishe, of course!. That's the standard answer you'll get for this question. But here's an answer that might - or might not - surprise you.
Translation: Said the Holy Genius of Sanz, may his merits protect us (this is brought in Chemdah Genuzah), that we have in receiving, that our patriarch Abraham, peace on him, went with (-wore) a Shreimel and a Kaftan, with shoes-and-socks and a Chalat. (Sorry, still no Wikipedia page for the shoes-and-socks one, although you can see a subtle reference to it here. Shoes and socks refers to white stockings and step-in-shoes, traditionally worn by some Chassidim on Shabbos. )
Note the white stockings. This is referred to as "Shich in Zoken" or "Veisse Zoken"
Continuation of translation: See there [in Chemda Genuzah] that the Seer of Lublin, may his merits protect us, met one Friday a person dressed in the aforementioned attire, and he said to him "Hello", and that person replied "Gut Shabbos", and the Seer saw, that that person is not from this world, [so] he asked him "who are you?", and he answered him "I'm the one to whom God said 'Go thee out of thy country'". See there [in Chemdah Genuzah the whole story] at length. But it is appropriate to note herewith, what it says in the book "From Their Mouth and From Their Writings" in the name of Rabbi Yankele of Pshevorsk, may the memory of the righteous be for blessing, on the aforementioned story, that it seems to him that if the Chasam Sofer would've seen the patriarch Abraham, he would've seen him with a Pressburg hat (I have no idea what this is referring to, do you?), because every sadiq sees the patriarch Abraham according to his level, see there. And this is wonderful. End of translation.

By way of analogy, if Rabbi Eliezer Silber would've seen Avraham Avinu, he would've seen him with a top hat and a frock.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guess Who Wrote This?

Guess who wrote the following?

והיה בזה כלל מונח אצלנו להבדיל בין סותר למתחלף. כי הדברים המתחלפים אפשר שיהיו שניהם כאחד צודקים ואמתיים. ולכן בכל מקום שדרך הפשט אינו אלא נוטה ומתחלף מעל הדרש, לא מתנגד לו, אין המקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו והדרשה תִדרש כי אז יהיה פשוטו של מקרא הכונה הראשונה והעקרית, והדרשה היא כונה שנייה, כוון האומר גם אליה, כדרך בעל הלשון לכוון לפעמים אל כוָנות שונות במאמר אחד, אלא שאינה העיקרית ... ואולם אם הדרך, הנראה לנו פשוטו של מקרא, הוא סותר ומתנגד לדרך הדרש המקובל, ומועתק אלינו מאת חז"ל, עד שאי-אפשר שיהיו שניהם צודקים, כי הסותר נמנע, אז חובה עלינו לילך בדרך הדרש, ולתרגם את המקרא על פיהו, כי אנו אין לנו אלא קבלת חכמינו ז"ל ובאורם נראה אור
While we are on the topic of interpretations that contradict Chazal, let me cite a surprising comment made by R. Chaim ibn Atar, also known as “the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh”.

דע כי רשות לנו נתונה לפרש משמעות הכתובים בנתיבות העיון ויישוב הדעת הגם שקדמונו ראשונים ויישבו באופן אחר כי ע' פנים לתורה ואין אנו מוזהרים שלא לנטות מדברי הראשונים אלא בפירושים שישתנה הדין לפיהן, ולזה תמצא שהאמוראים אין כח בהם לחלוק על התנאים במשפטי ה' אבל ביישוב הכתובים ובמשמעותן מצינו להם בכמה מקומות שיפרשו באופן אחר
אור החיים, בראשית א:א, ד"ה (א) בעזר

He is flatly stating that we should have no qualms about interpreting psukim differently than Chazal, as long as we don’t change the Halacha.

While this view is not surprising in and of itself, it IS interesting coming from ibn Atar.

Oh, the quote above was from Moshe Mendelssohn נתיבות השלוםספר בראשית, וינה תרכ"ב, הקדמה "אור לנתיבה", דף י ע"א

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

R. Israel Najara - Pervert?

The following appeared two weeks ago in a gilyon called “מבאר רבותינו”, a weekly paper that is primarily focused on סיפורי צדיקים. (I couldn't properly load the picture to get a good look, click on the picture.)

This column is about rituals and minhagim for Friday night and their sources. This week the topic is the famous zemer Koh Ribon Olam, composed by the-not-so-famous R. Israel Najara. The first footnote starts out with an innocent story about the Chasam Sofer. The story goes something like this: The Chasam Sofer never used to recite/sing Koh Ribon Olam on Friday nights. His son, the Ksav Sofer very much wanted to sing this song. But he couldn't. The reason he couldn't was that he didn't dare do anything different than his father. Once, when eating at his father on a Friday night, he started talking to his father about the beauty of this zemer and how nice and holy it is. The Chasam Sofer got the hint, and told his son: "I would rather recite the zemer than tell why why I wouldn't recite it". Since then, the Chasam Sofer recited it weekly. A few weeks or months later, the Chasam Sofer told his son the following story: the author of the zemer, R. Israel Najara served as  the Chazzan of R. Isaac Luria, a.k.a the Ari Zal. The morning after Najara composed Koh Ribon Olam, the Ari Zal told him that yesterday night, while he was composing the wonderful zemer, the Shcinah together with the Pamalya Shel Ma'aleh came to visit him, but when they arrived, they saw that he was sitting [at his Shabbos table], lo and behold, without wearing a jacket! That was presumably disgraceful, because the story goes that at the sight of a jacket-less Najara, the Shechina and the pamalya turned around and left. Later, the Ksav Sofer hypothesized that this was actually the reason why the Chasam Sofer never really wanted to recite the zemer.

The same story is then repeated from a different source. The author of the article references a slightly different version of the story, where Najara's disgraceful behavior is a little bit worse than writing poems sans coat. Here is R. Eliezer Papo's version of the story, as recorded in his sefer Pele Yoetz:

But then the author adds a cryptic reference, namely, שבחי ר' חיים ויטאל p. 19. Why is this cryptic? Because in Shivchei R. Chaim Vital, Najara's name is not even mentioned. You can see the referenced page here. So what can this mean?

The answer is that the sefer Shivchei R. Chaim Vital is actually a censored and shortened book. The original, uncensored book is called Sefer Hachizyonos and was published by Mossad Harav Kook but was then recalled in face of wide protest over the publication of the book (lead in part by R. Reuven Margolios who claimed that the sefer is a forgery). As Dan Rabinowitz reported some years ago on his blog, the original manuscript of the sefer was lost, but fortunately we have copies of it. And compared to different writings of R. Chaim Vital, this is most definitely his work. 

Here is the uncensored version of the page the author of Mibe'er Hashabbos references:

Now, I can't be sure, but I'm almost certain that THIS was the actual reason for the Chasam Sofer's reluctance to recite the zemer of Koh Ribon Olam, and not the other story that was later told by the Chasam Sofer. 

I must add the the reference to Shivchei R. Chaim Vital is a mischievous play on the part of the autohr, as I have no doubt that he wouldn't dare refer to it if it wouldn't have been censored. Maybe he should have added the words ויש לו סוד to his note...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ibn Kaspi In The Eyes Of The Open-Minded

I sometimes read a description of a person and get a certain percept of that person, only to later find something that person wrote and be surprised because it does not fit my preconceived idea of that person. I have never read anything by Rav Shlomo Fisher of Jerusalem. But I’ve seen his words quoted by Dr. Marc Shapiro, who wrote on him that “R. Fisher is ... the only one of our gedolim who is an expert in Jewish philosophy.”, and that he is the rabbi of R. Betzalel Naor. And R. Natan Slifkin cites him often in support of different ideas that are leaning more to the rationalistic side (see for example here and here.) Therefore,  I was surprised to find the following letter by Rav Shlomo Fisher. This appeared in Tzfunot, 3rd issue, 5749.

I was surprised. In an unpleasant way, that is. I was relieved to find that someone already made sure to voice what I thought when reading Rav Fisher’s words. Here is Rav Shmuel Ashkenazi's  response in the next volume of Tzfunot:

Can Goyim Do Chesed?

After watching this video clip, it seems that they indeed can...

H/T: Rafi @gldmeier

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Enigma of the Maklos - part II

In yesterday's post, I provided three approaches to the enigma of the Maklos. One was that of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the second one was that of MakeForYourself, and the third was that of Dr. Blonder as quoted by Shadal. At the end of the post I linked to R. Josh Waxman's post where he analyzes Shadal's words. In this post I would like to present R. Josh's own pshat. But first, a minor digression. I wrote yesterday "is it really true that observable inheritance was disproved? Nowadays I think there is no doubt that it is not true." Well, here is a scan of Rabbi Zamir Kohen's book "The Coming Revolution" which pays no heed to the fact that Maternal Impression has long been disproved. There is also a Hebrew version which i can upload at readers request.

Now I turn to R. Josh's pshat. Here are his words:
I think that the most straightforward reading of the Torah text is that Yaakov believed that the particulars of the striping on sticks would cause the patterns on the sheep. This impact of the imaginative faculties was believes in ancient times and was believed by Chazal. It certainly could have been believed by Yaakov Avinu.
Does this then mean that the Torah advances an incorrect scientific belief, and that the Biblical narrative depends on this false scientific belief? That certainly is one possible conclusion. 
Another conclusion could be somewhat multivalent. Recall that Yaakov's dream indicates some Divine influence on the outcome of the sheep patterns. We could say that Yaakov did his hishtadlus, in accordance with the beliefs of his time; and then, Hashem helped things along, in determining which seed was selected.
The first part of his pshat is the same as Rav Hirsch's. The second part where he states that the sheep patterns were influenced by a miracle, is that of Rabbi MakeForYourself. An interesting mixture, that fits the pshat very well.

What I don't understand is, why can't we just say- as I proposed in part I - that the cause of the pattern change in the newborns were Mendelian inheritance Law's? Actually, Mendelian Inheritance fits the verses depicting the dream just as well as the miracle proposed by R. Josh.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Enigma of the Maklos (Rods) - part I

In parshas ויצא, we find our patriarch Jacob shepherding Laban’s flocks. The Torah recounts the story of Jacob’s salary in great detail. Laban and Jacob agreed that Jacob should get “every speckled and dappled lamb, every brownish lamb among the sheep, and the dappled and speckled among the goats”. According to most of the classic commentators, the agreement applied to the newly born only. Those that were already born stayed under Laban’s ownership. In order to prevent disagreements, Laban removed from Jacob’s herd all the speckled and dappled sheep and goats, and gave them to his sons who were to travel three days journey in the opposite direction of Jacob. This in turn diminished the likelihood of speckled and dappled animals to be born in Jacob’s herd. But Jacob came up with a clever trick, to increase the number of speckled and dappled newborns:

וַיִּקַּח לוֹ יַעֲקֹב מַקַּל לִבְנֶה לַח וְלוּז וְעַרְמוֹן וַיְפַצֵּל בָּהֵן פְּצָלוֹת לְבָנוֹת מַחְשֹׂף הַלָּבָן אֲשֶׁר עַל הַמַּקְלוֹת:וַיַּצֵּג אֶת הַמַּקְלוֹת אֲשֶׁר פִּצֵּל בָּרֳהָטִים בְּשִׁקֲתוֹת הַמָּיִם אֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאןָ הַצֹּאן לִשְׁתּוֹת לְנֹכַח הַצֹּאן וַיֵּחַמְנָה בְּבֹאָן לִשְׁתּוֹת:וַיֶּחֱמוּ הַצֹּאן אֶל הַמַּקְלוֹת וַתֵּלַדְןָ הַצֹּאן עֲקֻדִּים נְקֻדִּים וּטְלֻאִים:וְהַכְּשָׂבִים הִפְרִיד יַעֲקֹב וַיִּתֵּן פְּנֵי הַצֹּאן אֶל עָקֹד וְכָל חוּם בְּצֹאן לָבָן וַיָּשֶׁת לוֹ עֲדָרִים לְבַדּוֹ וְלֹא שָׁתָם עַל צֹאן לָבָן:וְהָיָה בְּכָל יַחֵם הַצֹּאן הַמְקֻשָּׁרוֹת וְשָׂם יַעֲקֹב אֶת הַמַּקְלוֹת לְעֵינֵי הַצֹּאן בָּרֳהָטִים לְיַחְמֵנָּה בַּמַּקְלוֹת:וּבְהַעֲטִיף הַצֹּאן לֹא יָשִׂים וְהָיָה הָעֲטֻפִים לְלָבָן וְהַקְּשֻׁרִים לְיַעֲקֹב:

Jacob then took himself a moist rod of poplar and hazel and chestnut. He peeled white strippings on them, laying bare the white of the rodsAnd he stuck the rods which he had peeled, in the runnels in the watering pools, to which the flocks would come to drink, facing the flocks, so they would become heated when they came to drink.Then the flocks became heated by the rods and the flocks gave birth to ringed ones, speckled ones and dappled ones.Jacob segregated the lambs and he put the face of the flocks toward the ringed, and all the brownish ones among Laban’s flocks; he made separate herds of his own and did not mingle them with Laban’s flock’s.Whenever it was mating time for the early-bearing flocks, Jacob would place the rods in the runnels, in full view of the flock to stimulate them among the rods.But when the sheep where late-bearing, he would not emplace; thus, the late-bearing ones went to Laban and the early-bearing ones went to Jacob.
-Genesis 30:37-42

Another way of interpreting the verses is that Jacob’s agreement with Laban was on all the speckled and dappled animals. The question according to this pshat is: who separated the speckled sheep from the rest of the herd and why. According to Sforno this was done by Laban, and this was the first in a series of cheats committed by Laban. But according to ibn Ezra, this was done by Jacob himself and “his sons” the verse refers to, are Reuben and Simon. Ibn Ezra subsequently rejects this pshat, on the basis of Reuben being too young (7 years old) to shepherd.

Either way, what Jacob seems to be doing here, and that is how almost all of the classical commentaries understand it (including Rabbi Akiva in Midrash Tanchuma) is using a method that’s based on the theory of "Maternal Impression" (I’m indebted to DovBear for teaching me the technical term for this). According to this theory, something seen at the time of conception can influence the physical nature of the developing offspring.
The problem with this is that this was scientifically disproven. According to modern science, what the mother observes has no bearing on the fetus’ phenotype.

Now, we can simply say that although Jacob believed that what he is doing is working, all that was really working was Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance. That is actually what R. Shimshon Refael Hirsch say.

However, as DovBear pointed out to me, this doesn’t fit the Torah’s story well. On its face, the Torah is telling us that what Jacob did, actually provided results. Another fellow twiterer (or is it tweeter?) wrote the following:

"Seems if we follow text and what Yaakov said - God made the sheep change colors in Yaakov's favor - the "barber poles" - an aphrodisiac".

In other word's: the rod's served as an aphrodisiac and was not connected with the cange of colors in the animals - that was a miracle.

But is it really true that observable inheritance was disproved? Nowadays I think there is no doubt that it is not true. However in the late 1800s it was still standard science. Here is Shadal’s take on the matter:

While Dr. Blondel’s pshat is very nice, I’m not sure if I agree with his interpretation of וישם דרך שלשת ימים. It seems somewhat forced to me. On the other hand, the dream Jacob saw supports his pshat. For a full analysis of this Shadal by R. Josh Waxman, see here.