What Animal Behavior Tells Us About Humans

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4 Responses

  1. GB says:

    Interesting to note that the above-mentioned NYTimes article is one of their record-setters for “most emailed article.”
    But really, what is the chiddush: everyone, be it child, adult, human or animal responds better to positive reinforcement rather than negative, and tunes out and is turned off by kvetching and a barrage of criticism.

  2. Binyamin says:

    The gemara says that if we had not been given the torah we could learn correct behavior from animals. We would learn modesty from cats, and not to steal from ants.

  3. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “the inclusion of an “animal neshamah” within the human apparatus leaves room for commonality of responses as well”

    I will resist commenting on the extreme feministic attitude of the NYT writer; doing so may be more contentious than discussing evolution. 🙂

    For better or for worse, I live in Brooklyn, and the only animals I encounter are the friendly fury felines that inhabit my backyard. I can sometimes stand for many minutes watching Mrs. Katz and Family(read: cats) doing whatever cats do.

    I sometimes find myself thinking along the above-mentioned lines regarding “commonality of responses” as well. I am aware of the animal experiments performed by behaviorists such as Pavlov and Skinner; obviously, one needs to adopt the concept of conditioning to bechira chofshis(see Kuntres haBechira of Rav Dessler regarding psychological determinism).

    Any commonality has nothing to do with a non-Torah anthropological view of homo sapiens; to the contrary, such commonality highlight man’s uniqueness(see also Immortality and the Soul by RAK and Twerski on Spirituality regarding Nefesh Habamis). There is also the concept that through Mitzvos, such as abstaining from non-Kosher food, a Jew’s body may become different as well.

    Mishpocha Magazine had a recent feature about a Lakewood rebbe(“Zos HaChayah Program”) who believes that children’s fascination with the animal world is a vital chinunch tool. Such fascination need not be “babyish”, as we also see that Dovid Hamelech speaks about the animal kingdom in Tehilim. In a different volume, Mishpocha quoted Rabbi Slifkin that “Why do only children’s books have animal symbols?….It’s a shame that kids grow-out of it. Animals provide a wealth of different colors, shapes, textures, sounds, and personalities. They give us a rich insight into the beauty of Creation.” I agree with this.

    The Yated usually has one picture of an animal in each edition. The one I liked best, and which illustrates the point of this post, was a picture of a chimpanzee drinking from a can of Coca-Cola with gusto. The caption was ” don’t let your Nefesh Habahami get out of control !”

  4. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Here is another article about human – animal connections, this one about a three year old girl who was neglected and abused by her parents, so she went to live with a dog pack and acted like a dog until she was rescued five years later.


    It’s a horrible story on one level, but on another it’s a story of incredible wisdom exhibited by a very young kid.

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