THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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CHULIN 61-63 - sponsored by Dr. Lindsay A. Rosenwald of Lawrence NY, in
honor of his father, David ben Aharon ha'Levy Rosenwald of blessed memory.
1) THE "SHAKNA'I" AND "BATNA'I" BIRDS
OPINIONS: Ameimar says that the Shakna'i and Batna'i are eaten in certain
places and not eaten in others. The Gemara explains that in places where the
Peres and Ozniyah (non-Kosher birds) are common, the Shakna'i and Batna'i
may not be eaten, but in places where there were no Peres and Ozniyah,
Shakna'i and Batna'i may be eaten.
2) THE "RACHAM"
What difference does it make with regard to eating the Shakna'i and Batna'i
whether or not the Peres and Ozniyah are common in a certain place?
(a) RASHI (DH d'Shechichi) explains that in a place where the Peres and
Ozniyah are common, we are concerned that perhaps the local Shakna'i and
Batna'i are a subspecies of Peres and Ozniyah. In a place where there are no
Peres and Ozniyah, the Shakna'i and Batna'i may be eaten, and we are not
concerned that perhaps they are a subspecies of Peres and Ozniyah.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Ha b'Asra) has difficulty with this explanation. If in some
places there is reason to suspect that Shakna'i and Batna'i are subspecies
of Peres or Ozniyah, then why should those birds not be prohibited even in
places where there are no Peres and Ozniyah!
Tosfos explains instead that these two birds are indeed Kosher.
Nevertheless, in a place where the Peres and Ozniyah are common, they may
not be eaten lest people confuse them with the Peres and Ozniyah and begin
to eat the Peres and Ozniyah as well.
Perhaps we may answer Tosfos' question on Rashi's explanation as follows.
Perhaps there are two distinct (but similar-looking) subspecies which are
*both* called Shakna'i (or Batna'i). One is Kosher, and the other is a
subspecies of Peres or Ozniyah and is not Kosher. In order to determine
which of the two similar species is the specific bird in question, we must
see whether the Peres or Ozniyah frequent this area.
QUESTIONS: Rav Yehudah says that the "Racham" (Vayikra 11:18) is the
Sherakrak. Rebbi Yochanan says that it is called "Racham" because mercy
("Rachamim") comes after it appears. RASHI explains that this refers to
rainfall. Rav Bibi bar Abaye says that this is true only when it was perched
on something and chirping. He says further that we have a tradition that if
this bird would sit on the ground and chirp, Mashi'ach would come.
3) THE TWENTY-FOUR NON-KOSHER BIRDS
(a) What is the identity of the Racham, or Sherakrak?
(b) In what way does it herald the coming of rainfall, or, according to Rav
Bibi bar Abaye, the coming of Mashi'ach?
(a) As a number of early authorities write (see SICHAS CHULIN, page 423),
the exact identity of the birds mentioned in the Torah have become unclear
to us ("b'Avoseinu ha'Rabim") and difficult for us to discern. However, we
may speculate, based on the evidence available to us, what the identity of
the Racham is.
(The following discussion is adapted from Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's forthcoming
work, "The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom.)
The Gemara here implies that the Sherakrak is so called because it makes a
"sherakrak" sound. RASHI explains that when the bird calls, it sounds like
the bird is saying "sherakrak." Rashi is emphasizing that "sherakrak" is the
actual sound itself, and not that it is a verb describing the act of making
a sound, as "Sharak" means "to whistle," as in the verse that the Gemara
quotes, "I shall whistle (Eshrakah) to them and gather them in" (Zecharyah
10:8). It is unclear why Rashi insists that it refers instead to the actual
sound itself. Perhaps he derives it from the fact that the Gemara says that
the bird "*makes* a Sherakrak" rather than simply saying that the bird
whistles. (Rashi's explanation clearly excludes the bee-eater, which is the
bird that is referred to by the word "Sherakrak" in modern Hebrew. The
bee-eater makes a shrill, piping sound that can described as whistling, but
not as sounding like "sherakrak."
1. The CHIZKUNI identifies the Racham as the "pie," which is the magpie.
(b) The MAHARSHA points out that Rebbi Yochanan's statement -- that the
arrival of the Racham heralds the coming of mercy, or rainfall -- seems to
be a statement based on empirical observation. The roller is a common
passage migrant through Eretz Yisrael in September and October, on its way
to wintering in the savanna regions in eastern and southern Africa. It comes
through Eretz Yisrael just before the rain season, and thus is a sign of
This bird does indeed make a "sherakrak" sound. However, magpies are not
found in the vicinity of Eretz Yisrael or Bavel.
2. RAV SA'ADYAH GA'ON identifies this bird with the "rakham" in Arabic,
which is the Egyptian vulture. TOLDOS HA'ARETZ also cites this view.
However, that bird does not emit a sound that resembles "sherakrak." (See
also HA'KESAV VEHA'KABALAH to Vayikra 11:18.)
3. HA'KESAV VEHA'KABALAH cites a naturalist by the name of Hest who writes
in a book of birds about a bird found in Morocco called "serkrak" by the
Arabs. (This bird is between the size of the dove and the starling, its
chest and wings are yellow-green, its wings are dark, close to blue in
appearance, its back is brown, and its beak is slightly hooked. TEVU'OS
HA'ARETZ also identifies it as "al-serakrak" in Arabic and notes that it is
found in Egypt and in Northern Africa.
The bird being described is the roller (Coracius garrulus). Its English name
comes from its habit of tumbling and rolling through the sky. In addition to
the sound of "sherakrak" that this bird makes, it also matches ONKELUS'
description of the Racham as the "Yerakraka," a green bird.
However, when Rav Bibi bar Abaye says that this is true only when the bird
sits on something and makes the "sherarak" sound, and that we have a
tradition that if it sits on the ground and makes a "sherakrak" sound,
Mashi'ach will come, this obviously cannot be based on empirical
observation, but rather is a tradition. The roller indeed rarely perches on
Others explain that there is a deeper meaning behind Rav Bibi bar Abaye's
RAV BETZALEL ZEV SHAFRAN, Av Beis Din of Akko, in SHE'EILOS U'TESHUVOS
HA'RAVAZ (volume 1, Yalkut ha'Chinuchi 30, cited by K'MOTZEI SHALAL RAV,
Vayikra 11:18) suggests the following approach. In the Hebrew alphabet, the
first letter, "Alef," symbolizes oneness and unity. Every successive letter
progressively indicates a move away from that unity into a greater degree of
plurality. The progression of letters from "Alef" to "Tav" symbolizes the
move from unity to divisiveness. Conversely, the sequence of letters in
reverse, from "Tav" to "Alef," represents the move from divisiveness back to
The word "Sharak" is comprised of the letters "Shin," "Resh," and "Kuf,"
which are adjacent letters in the alphabet but are written in reverse order
in this word. The word therefore represents the movement from divisiveness
to unity. (The fact that one purses one's lips together in order to whistle
also alludes to the idea of gathering together and unifying (see MAHARAL,
Netzach Yisrael 42).
It is divisiveness and the lack of unity that brought about the Churban and
the present Galus. The Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed because of the sin of
baseless hatred (Yoma 9b). Consequently, the redemption will come about
through a return to unity. "If you make yourselves into one group, then you
will have prepared yourselves for redemption" (Bereishis Rabah, Parshas
The Gemara's teaching about the Racham can be understood as follows. "The
Racham is the Sherakrak" -- the word "Sherakrak," which has letters steadily
decreasing in numerical value, alludes to a move away from divisiveness and
towards unity. "When it comes, mercy comes to the world" -- when Jews unite
in love and brotherhood, then Hashem, too, will show love and mercy upon us.
"And we have a tradition that if it sits on the ground" -- if this love
spreads throughout the world -- "And makes the sound 'sherakrak'" --
symbolizing the Jewish people's move to unity, then it is a sign that
"Mashi'ach is coming." (See MAHARAL, Netzach Yisrael 42, for a different
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rav who states that there are twenty-four
non-Kosher birds. The Gemara concludes that twenty of these are listed in
the book of Devarim (since, as the Gemara concludes (63b), Ayah and Dayah
are the same, and Ra'ah and Da'ah are the same), and the remaining four are
derived from the four words "l'Minah" (Devarim 14:13), "l'Mino" (14:14),
"l'Minehu" (14:15), and "l'Minah" (14:18).
4) THE EYE OF THE "AYAH"
However, it seems that Rav should have said that there are *twenty-five*
non-Kosher birds, because the previous Gemara cites a Beraisa that includes
the Orev ha'Amaki in the list of non-Kosher birds, which it derives from the
verse, "Es *Kol* Orev" (14:14)! Why does Rav not say that there are
twenty-five non-Kosher birds?
(a) We find that the RIF has a different Girsa in the Beraisa earlier (as
noted in the margin of our Gemara). According to the Rif's Girsa, the
Beraisa teaches, "'Orev' -- this is the black Orev. 'Es Kol Orev' comes to
include the Orev ha'Amaki and the one that has a pigeon's head. The word
'l'Mino' includes the Zarzir, and 'l'Mineihu' includes the white Senunis."
According to the Rif's text of the Beraisa, we can answer our question. From
the words, "l'Minah," l'Minehu," and "l'Mino," we include birds that do not
have the same name as the other non-Kosher birds, but rather they have only
similar features, such as the Zarzir and the white Senunis, thus adding four
birds with different names to the list of twenty. The Orev ha'Amaki and the
pigeon-headed Orev that are derived from the word "Kol" are called Orev, and
thus are included in the general category of birds called "Orev." They need
to be derived from another verse only because they have different features
than the ordinary Orev. Since they are called "Orev," they do not count as
separate birds on the list.
(According to our Girsa, the Beraisa derives the Orev ha'Amaki from "Es
*Kol* Orev," and "l'Mino" includes the pigeon-headed Orev. Hence, "l'Mino"
includes a bird called "Orev" just as "Kol" does.)
The Rif's text answers another question. The TIFERES YAKOV points out that
according to our text, the Beraisa argues with the Derashah of Rebbi Eliezer
(62a), who derives the Zarzir or the white Senunis from "l'Mino." Perhaps
the Rabanan, who argue with Rebbi Eliezer, understand the verse in the way
that the Beraisa explains it. This poses a problem, though, since the
Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Eliezer, and yet the Beraisa is
supporting the opposing view. However, according to the Girsa of the Rif,
the Beraisa itself is expressing the view of Rebbi Eliezer, and thus we have
an anonymous Beraisa supporting the view of Rebbi Eliezer.
(b) The RASHASH points out that our text of the Rif does not quote the
Beraisa at all! The source for this variant Girsa quoted in the marginal
note is not clear. The Rashash also asks that according to that Girsa, how
can "l'Minehu" include the white Senunis, when that word is not written with
regard to the Orev (only "l'Mino" is written with regard to the Orev)?
The Rashash quotes the text of the Toras Kohanim that reads, "'l'Mino --
this includes the Senunis." This text both supports the opinion of Rebbi
Eliezer and answers the question we asked on the count of non-kosher birds.
AGADAH: The Gemara (63a) quotes Rav who states that there are twenty-four
non-Kosher birds. In order to arrive at this number in the verses, the
variations of the word "l'Minah" are counted (see previous Insight), and, as
Abaye proves, the Da'ah and Ra'ah must be the same bird, and the Ayah and
Dayah are the same bird. Rebbi Avahu argues and maintains that there are
only twenty-three non-Kosher birds. He asserts that the Ra'ah and Ayah are
the same species (and, as the Gemara explains Rebbi Avahu's opinion, those
two are the same as Da'ah and Dayah, such that all four names refer to the
same bird). The reason why the bird is called "Ra'ah" because it sees
("Ro'eh") very far, as the verse states, "It is a path the Ayit does not
know, and which the eye of the Ayah has not seen" (Iyov 28:7). The Beraisa
adds that a Ra'ah can "stand in Bavel and see a carcass in Eretz Yisrael."
Although there are a number of opinions regarding the identity of the Ayah,
it seems that the best candidate is the buzzard (see "The Animal World of
the Bible," by Prof. Yehudah Feliks, page 67), which is not otherwise
mentioned in the list of non-Kosher birds. The buzzard is renowned for its
superb eyesight, which is described as a feature of the Ayah. While a
marginal note in the Gemara points out that the Beraisa's statement about a
Ra'ah in Bavel being able to see a carcass in Eretz Yisrael is an
exaggeration, buzzards still do possess outstanding visual acuity.
The Midrash (Peskita d'Rav Kahana, Nispachim 2) mentions the buzzard's
phenomenal eyesight. "Rebbi Yitzchak said in the name of Rebbi Yochanan ben
Sitnah: There is a type of buzzard which raises itself twenty five Mil high
and surveys the land. Rebbi Meir, Rebbi Yosi and the Chachamim [argued
regarding its visual acuity at this height]: one said that it can see a
vessel measuring three Tefachim on the ground, one said it can see a vessel
measuring one and a half Tefachim, and one said it can see a vessel
measuring three Etzba'os. Hashem said: Anyone who fulfills the commandment
of Sukah in this world, I shall give him a portion in the future that no
bird can look at, as it says, 'It is a path which no bird of prey (Ayit)
knows, and which the eye of the
buzzard (Ayah) has not seen' (Iyov 28:7)."
RAV MEIR SHAPIRO zt'l (cited in Torah l'Da'as, Parshas Shemini) suggests a
homiletical meaning to the Beraisa's statement. There are those who stand in
the Galus, in Chutz la'Aretz, and look at Eretz Yisrael, seeing only bad in
the holy land, like the buzzard seeing the carcass. From the time of the
Meraglim, who brought back evil reports about the land, until today, when
there are those who constantly criticize Eretz Yisrael and complain about
it, people are like the buzzard, seeing only death, destruction, and
negative aspects. However, we are commanded, "u'Re'eh b'Tuv Yerushalayim"
(Tehilim 128:5) -- we are commanded to see the good in Eretz Yisrael.
((-Adapted from Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's forthcoming work, "The Torah
Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom.)
5) HALACHACH: THE TURKEY
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yitzchak states that a bird with all of the signs of a
Kosher bird may be eaten as long as there is a Mesorah (tradition) that it
is Kosher. A hunter, though, is believed to say that a bird is Kosher when
he says that he has such a tradition from his teacher (the Gemara concludes
that this refers to his hunting teacher, who was a Chacham, and not to his
6) HALACHAH: BUYING EGGS FROM A NOCHRI
RASHI (DH Chazyuha) rules that we may eat a bird only when we have a
tradition that it is Kosher. Although the SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 82:3) rules
that under certain circumstances a bird that has three signs of a Kosher
bird can be permitted without a tradition (see Insights to Chulin 62:1), the
REMA argues and rules that our practice is to follow the opinion that a
tradition is absolutely necessary for any bird to be eaten, and one should
not change this custom.
It follows that there is considerable discussion regarding whether or not we
may eat certain birds that have the signs of a Kosher bird, but for which we
have no Mesorah that they are Kosher. The most well-known question involves
(a) The DARCHEI TESHUVAH (82:26) quotes the NACHAL ESHKOL who questions the
widespread practice of eating turkey. After noting that these birds look
very different from chickens, he says that he does not know how these birds
are permitted to be eaten. Under the assumption that their country of origin
was India (when the early explorers landed on the American continent, they
thought they had arrived at India), he says that even if someone in India
had a Mesorah, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 82:5) clearly rules like the opinion
of the RASHBA that a country which does not have a Mesorah cannot rely on
one that does.
The Darchei Teshuvah then quotes the SHO'EL U'MESHIV who knew that the
turkey's country of origin was America and says that it is impossible to
have a tradition that turkey is Kosher (since no Jews lived in America until
three thousand years after the Torah was given). He concludes that,
nevertheless, it seems that the custom to eat turkey became so widespread
because the earlier generations did not follow the Rema's stringency. We,
however, who have accepted the Rema's opinion, cannot eat turkey. This is
also the opinion of the MELAMED L'HO'IL (YD 2:15).
(b) However, the NETZIV in MESHIV DAVAR (YD 22) says that eating turkey
*today* does not contradict the opinion of the Rema. The Rema was discussing
whether or not we should permit a bird, in the first place, to be eaten when
we have no tradition that it is Kosher. Once it has already become the
custom to eat turkey -- even though it is unclear how the custom
developed -- we should not rule that it is forbidden and say that our
ancestors were eating a forbidden food. Only when we can prove that it is
*not* Kosher should we then refrain from eating turkey.
In a similar vein, the Darchei Teshuvah quotes the ARUGAS HA'BOSEM who says
that the Rema himself said only that a tradition is required if it is in the
realm of possibility that the bird is Dores. Since the turkey has been among
us for many years and we see that it definitely is not Dores, even the Rema
would agree that a tradition is not required. The Arugas ha'Bosem continues
and says that we find that everyone eats turkey. This is apparent in the
many letters written by the Poskim in response to specific questions that
arose regarding the state of Kashrus of individual turkeys. The Arugas
ha'Bosem writes that "we have heard of only one family in Russia that does
not eat turkey, and if one marries into that family, then that person is not
allowed to feed turkey to his or her children."
(The SICHAS CHULIN (end of note 60:27) proposes an innovative, although
highly unlikely, explanation for how the custom to eat turkey developed. For
a comprehensive overview in English of the Halachic literature, see Rabbi
Ari Z. Zivotofsky's article, "Is Turkey Kosher?" at
http://www.kashrut.com/articles/turk_part5/.) (Y. Montrose)
OPINIONS: The Beraisa states that we may buy eggs from Nochrim in all
places, and we do not need to be concerned that they come from non-Kosher
birds. Avuha d'Shmuel adds that this applies only when the seller names the
specific Kosher bird from which the eggs came.
On what basis may we trust the word of the Nochri?
(a) RASHI (DH Shel Of Ploni) and the RAMBAN explain that we may trust the
Nochri, because he knows that we can easily compare this egg to an actual
egg of the bird from which he claims it came. Therefore, the Nochri will not
HALACHAH: How do we purchase eggs from Nochrim nowadays without first asking
the seller which birds produced the eggs?
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros 3:18-19) has a different reading
of the text. According to the Rambam's reading, the Gemara here is not
discussing buying eggs from a Nochri, but rather it is discussing buying
eggs from a Jew with questionable credibility. Such a Jew is believed only
when he specifies the name of the Kosher bird from which his eggs came. A
Nochri, though, is not believed even when he tells us the name of the
specific Kosher bird from which his eggs supposedly came. According to the
Rambam, we may purchase eggs from a Nochri only when we recognize the eggs
as those of a Kosher bird.
The ACHIEZER (3:8) explains that the basis of the argument between Rashi and
the Ramban is the question whether or not we may rely on the word of a
Nochri with regard to a Torah law in a case in which the doubt can be
clarified at a later time and the Nochri might be caught lying. The ACHIEZER
points out that in a different ruling, the RAMBAN concludes that a person
should begin observing Aveilus based on the word of a Nochri who said, in
the manner of "Mesi'ach l'Fi Tumo" (he randomly mentioned what happened in
casual conversation), that a relative died, because the words of the Nochri
can be checked later for their authenticity.
(a) TOSFOS (64, DH Simanim) writes that most of the eggs sold in the market
today come from Kosher birds, and therefore we may rely on "Rov." The REMA
(YD 86:2) adds that we may rely on Rov only when buying common eggs, like
chicken or goose eggs. When buying exotic eggs, we must first ascertain that
they came from a Kosher bird.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'acholos Asuros 3:19), consistent with his opinion
quoted above, rules that we may buy eggs from a Nochri only if we know that
the eggs come from a Kosher bird. (Z. Wainstein)