MULE (Heb. פֶּרֶד), the offspring of a he-ass and a mare. Although a Jew is prohibited from producing such hybrids, their use is permitted (Tosef., Kil. 5:6 cites an individual view prohibiting it). Since there were different strains of horses and asses in Ereẓ Israel, the mules were also of different strains. The mule is a powerful, submissive animal, particularly suitable for riding and transporting goods in the mountainous regions of Ereẓ Israel, and hence was commonly used. Nor was riding on it regarded as inferior to riding on a horse; Solomon, on the occasion of his proclamation as king, was made to ride "upon King David's mule" (I Kings 1:38), while Absalom met his death while riding on a mule (II Sam. 18:9). Ezekiel (27:14) speaks in praise of the mules of Togarmah (Turkey?). The Talmud mentions white mules as being dangerous and some sages were indignant with Judah ha-Nasi for harboring them (ul. 7b). That the mule is sometimes dangerous, is sterile, and the female barren was regarded as proof that man is prohibited from interfering with the work of creation. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel maintained that the first to cross a horse with an ass in order to produce a mule, thereby committing an unworthy act, was "Anah who discovered the yemim" (Gen. 36: 24), which he explained as meaning mules. On the other hand, R. Yose held that on the termination of the first Sabbath after the Creation one of the two things which Adam did was "to cross two animals, and from them came forth the mule."   He contended that thereby Adam performed an action "of a kind similar to that of Heaven," that is, he created something new, to become, as it were, a partner with the Creator in the work of creation (Pes. 54a; cf. TJ, Ber. 8:6, 12b). Some also crossbred a stallion and a she-ass, and the Talmud gives the characteristics of the two types of mule: if its ears are short, it is the offspring of a mare and a he-ass, if large, of a she-ass and a stallion (TJ, Kil. 7:3, 31c). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lewysohn, Zool, 144–6, nos. 168, 169; S. Lieberman, Tosefta ki-Feshutah, 1 (1955), 99; F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal and Man in Bible Lands (1960), passim; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 128–9. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 266. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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