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Original research and unreliable sources[edit]

I'm rather concerned about all the content in the "Gallery" and below. It cites a single source, a self-published book by a rabbi who doesn't seem to have any advanced academic qualifications - our article on Natan Slifkin calls him a PhD student. That book thus doesn't seem to meet our standards of reliability. Even worse, for all I can tell that book doesn't even say what we cite it for. For example, it doesn't even mention the Elasmotherium at all, making that entire section pure original research. I don't think we'd lose anything of value if we removed the galleries et cetera outright (and on second thought I'd also remove the One horn ("uni-corn") section). I see no benefit to our readers in showing them images that no one has associated with the Tachash. Huon (talk) 22:33, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

Elasmotherium is the scientific taxonomic name for a giant one-horned rhinoceros. It means the same thing. The taxonomic name of the Indian rhinoceros, for example, is Rhinoceros unicornis. The Indian rhinoceros is today the largest land animal with one horn on its forehead. A one-horned rhino is basically a unicorn. A two-horned rhino is a bicorn. If in a discussion of the Indian rhinoceros I never include Rhinoceros unicornis, that does not mean my discussion doesn't even mention the Rhinoceros unicornis, but only that I am discussing the same animal by its ordinary non-scientific name. Ordinary names for the Elasmotherium in ancient times were "Kilin", "Black Bull", "Deer", "Indrik", "Ass", "Unicorn" and "Karkadann", among other names handed down by tradition. Their names differ, but their descriptions match. The ancients did not use the modern word "elasmotherium" (Thin-plate beast) for this now-extinct animal, but that does not mean they never mentioned it or described it or discussed it.
The Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbath 2:3 –Rabbi Abun said [of the tachash], "It was called a unicorn." Rabbi Hoshaiah taught, "It was because it had only one horn." Yerushalmi:—The Talmud of the Land of Israel, Volume 11: Shabbat, edited by Jacob Neusner, University of Chicago Press, May 28, 1991, 513 pages. ISBN 9780226576701. p. 98.
Aryeh Kaplan, The Living Torah, Exodus 25:5 footnote "blue processed skins", includes the interpretation of tachashim as the "keresh" (the giant deer of the forest of Bei Ilai). —click here: Kaplan, Aryeh. The Living Torah: Terumah-Exodus-Chapter 25:5 footnote blue processed skins.
See WP article Unicorn: sections "Elasmotherium or rhinoceros" and "Tahash".
See Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo'ed, Tractate Shabbath 28ab, Seder Kodashim, Tractate Chullin 59b; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:9; Midrash Tanchuma 6. All of these sources cite and quote older sources than themselves which describe the huge one-horned tahash, making them authoritative secondary sources, even if they are ancient ones, since the Amoraim who compiled them did not author the statements made by the Zugot and Tannaim before them. Is there anyone who will seriously assert that these authoritative Jewish texts are unreliable sources?
Natan Slifkin cites and discusses all these, including all the sources and ancient interpretations cited by Kaplan, and more. He includes under the title "Unicorns of Different Colors" both the rhinoceros and the tachash as huge one-horned beasts, as "uni-corns", but "not like the unicorn of mythology". I provided access to his book as an External link—would it have been better if I had cited his sources? He certainly does say what he is cited for in this article, that there were opinions among the sages that the tachash was indeed a unicorn, with their opinions on whether it was an unclean or a clean animal. He gives reasons why the rhinoceros was probably not a kosher tachash.
The sages of the midrashim and the Talmud, the Chazal, are they who associate the tachash with the one-horned rhinoceros and call it a unicorn. It is immaterial that they do not use 19th-21st century CE taxonomic nomenclature, when their descriptions of the tahash correspond to the one-horned giant form of a rhinoceros.
What is a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.—Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.
The article does not say that the Elasmotherium is the Tahash. On the contrary, the article explicitly states that the Elasmotherium is too small to be the legendary Tahash (10 cubits, one-third the length of a single finished tahash skin of 30 cubits). However, the article does include the ancient interpretation (among others) that the tachash was a kind of one-horned gigantic rhino, a huge unicorn (which is also a description of Elasmotherium), and thus the images presented in the Gallery rather do benefit the reader by illustrating the kind of animal this was: how its description according to the sages compares to the mythical European unicorn; presenting the natural appearance of various other known beautiful animals also having six-colored skins; showing how its description compares in appearance with giant one-horned rhinocerotids; and illustrating how its enormous size (second only to the length of the blue whale) compares with the extinct giant hornless rhino species Paraceratherium less than two-thirds its length, the largest land animal currently known to science (twice the size of the rhinoceros Elasmotherium), and how it compares to the size of the average human. The article specifically states in the section "Gallery" that none of these images have been explicitly identified as actually being the ephemeral tahash, but that they are presented for comparison with unicorns ancient, medieval and modern, with six-colored animals, and with ancient giant one-horned rhinos, for appearance, color and size.
I have rectified the defect of citing a single source by recourse to a revision edit with an improved rewrite citing several corresponding reliable sources inclusively cited by the single source, together with others (mentioned above) that I have also additionally included. It is the best I can do for now.
I wish you well. pax vobis שלם --Encyclopedic researcher (talk) 09:25, 23 September 2014 (UTC)
According to our article Natan Slifkin has a Master's Degree in Judaic Studies from the Lander Institute in Jerusalem. That should count for something. --Encyclopedic researcher (talk) 14:33, 23 September 2014 (UTC)
An online check shows that Rabbi Slifkin is already in his fourth year of studies for his Doctorate at Bar-Ilan University (October three years). see --Encyclopedic researcher (talk) 14:53, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

"Gallery" images—NPOV controversy[edit]

Cognizant of the sensitivity of some of our Jewish readers and of the potential for a strong reaction and for controversial disputation regarding inclusion of a Gallery of images of Unicorns, multicolored animals, and Elasmotherium in an article about the Tahash, I have preemptively inserted the following tag:

Reliable sources have been cited supportive of views pro and con regarding identification and description of the animal Tachash as a unicorn and as a possible variety of the gigantic rhino Elasmotherium. The fact that any such identification, implicit or explicit, is a violation of Jewish tradition and has no basis in fact is explicitly included. The fact that some established scholars and ancient explorers together with some of the sages of the Talmud have adverted to the long-established reputed existence of unicorns, which includes the enormous Elasmotheres, is also explicitly included (sources cited). The Gallery providing images for comparison cannot be excluded as "unsourced Original Research" merely to support one point of view excluding all representive images, since they are merely illustrative of various points associated with traditional documented descriptions of the Tahash as an animal. The article deals with a traditional Jewish topic, but is not intended to represent solely a particular Jewish point of view excluding all visual representive imagery. I have attempted to provide per Wikipedia's policy of NPOV both majority and minority viewpoints in the article, reflecting both Jewish and Gentile reader interests. See Wikipedia:UNDUE. The stated fact that the Tahash remains unknown to science is simply that: the fact that science currently has no physical evidence to support or deny the ancient existence of the Tachash (and it is unlikely that it ever will), just as currently it has no physical evidence for the Exodus or for the person of Moses. This does not imply that belief in the historicity of the tachash, the Exodus or the person of Moses is irrational, impossible or absurd. What one reader will understand as perfectly reasonable another will understand as ridiculous—or as a form of ridicule of a cherished tradition (which would be a purely subjective impression). It can't be helped. (See "eye of the beholder".) I hope this clarifies the matter. In any case, שלם pax vobis. I wish you well. --Encyclopedic researcher (talk) 00:08, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

I removed the entire gallery section, as it was an indiscriminate collection of images which is discouraged per WP:IG, and worse much of the section seemed to be WP:SYNTH. Instead of saying "here are a bunch of pictures of multicolored animals, so you can see that multicolored animals aren't unusual", just say "multicolored animals are not unusual" and provide a link to a reliable source that supports that statement. The section that basically said "the Tachash wasn't a unicorn, but here are a bunch of pictures of unicorns that aren't Tachashes" and the collection of images of large rhinoceri added no encyclopedic value that couldn't be better expressed in context with a link to the article on unicorns or ancient rhinoceri. If you feel that images of unicorns and ancient rhinoceri would add to a reader's understanding of the topic, one representative image to illustrate a specific point in the text would be sufficient. --Ahecht (TALK
) 19:28, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Section "Controversy"—Elasmotherium and Tahash disconnect[edit]

I found this article sitting under the Category "Hebrew words and phrases in the Hebrew Bible" and read it. One part seemed like needed a little help.

It looked to me like there was a jump or gap that needed to be bridged, or filled, in section "Controversy". The section "One Horn ("uni-corn")" with Slifkin's comments about the rabbis saying the tahash was "indeed" a unicorn, with good footnote citations from the Talmud as support, jumped immediately to section "Controversy" with the link to "Possible historical witnesses..." And then it jumped to "There are serious objections..." without explaining the connection. I don't know—the suggestion seemed to be that the sightings are objectionable. The long explanation on this talk page about identifying the tahash as a unicorn and the rhinoceros elasmotherium as a unicorn made sense, so I summarized and put it in the gap. Altho their descriptions are almost identical, there seems to be no reason to link the two animals together as if they were the same thing, even if they are called unicorns, but I thought an explanation that they're not would be better than just leaving the gap as it was, or going so far as an entire removal of the galleries. I like how the pictures helped me visualize the giant tahash with one horn anyway, even if there aren't any pictures of it, or, at any rate, any that say they are. (Kind of the same as liking the fact that the dugong has been called Halicore tabernaculi.) The tahash couldn't look too much different from a giant rhinoceros: a quadruped, with one massive horn on its forehead, as big as a three-story house! (Can you imagine what it would take to bring one down?) I don't think a gallery of the other tiny creatures the rabbis identified as the tahash is necessary, like pictures of the ermine or badger or seal, since there are articles in wikipedia that show pictures of them and their names are linked here. Besides, none of them has a skin 30 cubits long!

It seemed to me, when I first looked at that section of the article, that the way that part was written was trying to make the case with the link "Possible historical witnesses" that the tahash was a giant rhino, an elasmotherium, and that it might have been sighted, which implies (big OR) that it might have been the creature that the Israelites got the tahash skins from, a kind of relict limited to the Sinai wilderness, which became extinct when the people killed them for their skins. So I filled in the gap and simply said "no way". And that seamlessly led right into the paragraph "There are serious objections..." which states Jewish tradition, which is right on.

I am curious, though. Is there a Jewish prohibition against any attempt to visually portray or visually suggest the appearance of the tahash? If there is, that would explain a lot. But I don't think that alone would be enough reason to get rid of the Gallery section.

--Espresso-con-pana (talk) 11:38, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Merge with Badger skins[edit]

Or delete, or prune back to stub. I have deliberately put "Merge to" tags on both not one as "Merge from" since not clear which should merge to which, or even if either is required. In ictu oculi (talk) 12:27, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Burn this with fire and protect the redirect. This is almost as bad as it was three years ago. The use of unrelated images to give a veneer of plausibility is highly suggestive that Michael Paul Heart has returned. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 12:58, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
And in case I wasn't clear, I meant that this should be redirected to Tabernacle#Plan as before. Badger skins should either be similarly redirected or targeted to Badger#Commercial use. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 13:10, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Personally more than fine burn with fire and redirect to Tabernacle#Plan as before. Feel free to implement. In ictu oculi (talk) 14:53, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
OMG What's all this? I just dropped in to see if there was a response to my question about a Jewish prohibition. Are you really serious about targeting an article about translation to Badger#Commercial use? As for burning: why haven't you guys submitted a RFD, or put a Category:Delete tag on it? --Espresso-con-pana (talk) 15:07, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
There were two separate issues here. The first was that a user suggested redirecting this article to "Badger Skins", and the another user suggested redirecting this article to "Tabernacle#Plan" and redirecting "Badger Skins" to "Badger#Commercial use", which is moot as "Badger Skins" has been deleted. No one was suggesting to redirect this article to "Badger#Commercial use". --Ahecht (TALK
) 19:10, 26 September 2014 (UTC)