Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hypersensitive to Hyraxes

There is a weekly newsletter put out in my settlement every Thursday evening. The front page contains a dvar Torah. The back page contains the times for the various prayer services and Torah lectures for the coming week, announcements of births, engagements, weddings, and unfortunately deaths. Upcoming cultural activities are announced here too, and small advertisements are published.

That leaves the middle two pages. Here is where individuals in the community will write things of interest to them - occasionally an "interview" with a new family, sometimes a book review, and more often than not, an opinion piece about current events.

These opinion pieces (and the inevitable responses) can sometimes be a bit (ahem) pointed. During the time before the disengagement there were heated exchanges on the controversial issue of refusing army orders, and everyone had a different opinion about the form of protests that were needed.

Then again, sometimes these pages contain letters about more local issues, some serious and some less so. These two weeks had an exchange of letters that I personally found extremely funny.

It seems that our yishuv has been overrun by a very pesky gang. No, not a human one, a four legged one. Living in the rocky hills of Samaria we are surrounded by the wonders of nature in the form of all kinds of creatures - from slugs and snails, to scorpions and snakes, and even to what is called in Hebrew "shfanei selah". After extensive research on the internet I finally found out what these are called in English - hyrax.

These animals reside in the rocky crevices in the mountains, are very social beings, and are in general not agressive. They run away and hide in the rocks at the first sign of danger. There is only one problem with them - they are vegetarians. Aggressively vegetarian. It seems that every garden in our yishuv has turned into their own personal restaurant.

One family posted a letter complaining (rightly) that they are so unafraid of us ("yefei nefesh" that we are - slang for bleeding hearts) that packs of them have been sighted running down the street! I have been witness to this myself. This family also claimed that there is a skin disease that has been found in a number of children here that may be carried by the hyraxes. Therefore this family was looking for others to complain with them to the municipal authority and have them exterminated.

The next week another family, well known for their love of nature and animals, wrote a response. They made the point that the disease in question is carried by flies and not by hyraxes, and that the main reason why this other family complained was because of the damage to their garden, and not the health threat. The simple solution is to put up a high fence or own a dog. (Eue d'Fido seems to put them off).

I personally totally agree with the second family - although in truth I haven't suffered from their attacks of the munchies. Our garden is behind a stone fence and we used to have a dog in the yard - whose olfactory presence is apparently still sensed.

On the other hand, I couldn't help but fantasize about a possible solution to the problem, even a cruel one. I imagined a cottage industry sprouting up, where we capture and export these creatures to Far Eastern countries where their taste in "unusual meats" is well known. Perhaps a clever marketing person could spread rumors that this delicacy is the ancient Middle Eastern version of the blue pill....

Just a flight of fancy guys! I don't want any hate mail....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find them quite cute. We have quite a number back here but we catch them with traps(it works, that way they don't get a chance to bite.)

12:53 PM, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This made me laugh out loud! Thanks so much for sharing!!

2:33 PM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Oh, I looooove those critters! For years my only acquaintance with a hyrax was an etching in a Torah showing non-kosher animals....then on my first visit to Israel, we went up to Banias. Hiking along a canyon, we found ourselves in the middle of a very small island mid-river, which was connected by bridges to the banks. As we stood there admiring the rush of waters, my husband nudged me and pointed. A hyrax had edged out of hiding along the bank, looked both ways up and down the trail, and seeing no human trespassers, galloped across the bridge--and screeched to a halt three feet from us with the most amazed "where did you ever come from?" look on its face, then high-tailed it back across the bridge, across the trail and almost straight up the sides of the wadi in his haste to escape us!

It was sooo funny, and seeing them in person both on this bridge and at the Banias pools, brought that ragged old Torah illustration to life: I was suddenly looking at an animal my ancestors knew and which didn't exist where I lived in Golus.

In California, the deer ate all the gardens---the solution was 'deer fencing,' not hunting season:http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2465866, or Google "Deer fencing" for more choices.

6:08 PM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger Soccer Dad said...

You think you've got problems?

6:23 PM, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diseases!!! INDEED. Look whos talking. You humans carry and spread more diseases than any other species on this earth. TREMBLE before our might. We will over run your yishuv and conquer all of Judea and samaria. Then the world. THEN THE MUQATA. FEAST my brothers and sisters. Feast. Oh yes. The day for pay back is upon you all.

7:33 PM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

The Hyrax sounds like it should be part of a Dr. Seuss book.

9:11 PM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

it sounds like the hyrax is israel's equivalent to the deer, and i really don't like deer....

9:24 PM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

But we LOVE the Holy Hyrax! (Even if he was put in Cherem)

10:15 PM, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll get yours Jameel. Oh yes. No watch, no clock or even glue, can save what we're going to do to you. You may have your woozles or flamboozles, but my hyraxes carry shlamhoozles. To whick and whack at your desert land, we will conquer with a mighty hand. Your veggies are ours, your homes are ours and yes, even your flat TV screen to watch for hours. So keep your Cherems locked in your rabbinic harems, but I will have.......the Muqata.

10:25 PM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

rami - where is this?

travel - thank you!

soccerdad - I'll go on over to read in a minute!

holy hyrax - welcome to my blog, um, I think....

jack - you are absolutely right

bec - how can someone NOT like Bambi?

Jameel - I actually wanted to title my post "Holy Hyrax" but then westbankpapa told me about the Slifkin controversy, so I changed the title a bit.

holy - a four legged flame war on MY blog?!?

9:29 AM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger Batya said...

I haven't noticed any recently, but for awhile they were holding up traffic on some roads.

7:17 PM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

i don't mind bambi...until he runs in front of my car when i'm driving home.... out here where i am, it's that season again.

12:23 AM, November 16, 2006  
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