Antique Brass Rabbit Figurine, cm. 7 x 4.
Rabbits and hares are common motifs in the visual arts, with variable mythological and artistic meanings in different cultures. The rabbit as well as the hare have been associated with moon deities and may signify rebirth or resurrection. They may also be symbols of fertility or sensuality, and they appear in depictions of hunting and spring scenes in the Labours of the Months.
In Judaism, the rabbit is considered an unclean animal, because “though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof.”[a] This led to derogatory statements in the Christian art of the Middle Ages, and to an ambiguous interpretation of the rabbit’s symbolism. The “shafan” in Hebrew has symbolic meaning. Although rabbits were a non-kosher animal in the Bible, positive symbolic connotations were sometimes noted, as for lionsand eagles. 16th century German scholar Rabbi Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, saw the rabbits as a symbol of the Diaspora. In any case, a three haresmotif was a prominent part of many Synagogues.[3
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