Here’s a a farmer displaying a captured locust in a farm outside Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, March 5, 2013. Gaza officials said the locusts had not hit Gaza in several decades.
In the Negev, on Israel’s side of the border, on Wednesday morning aircraft will begin spraying the areas where swarms of locusts rested during the night.
Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture is hoping to stop the advance of the locusts and prevent damage to farmland. Estimates are that many plots have been damaged on Tuesday.
The weatherman is promising that north winds will save the day on Wednesday, blowing the locusts towards Saudi Arabia.
The site Ohr Somayach’s Ask the Rabbi cites the Torah in Parshat Shmini:
“Every flying insect that uses four legs for walking shall be avoided by you. The only flying insects with four walking legs that you may eat are those which have knees extending above their feet, [using these longer legs] to hop on the ground. Among these you may only eat members of the red locust family, the yellow locust family, the spotted gray locust family and the white locust family. All other flying insects with four feet [for walking] must be avoided by you.”
According to the same website:
The four types of locusts stated in the Torah are known according to Yemenite tradition to be the following: The “red locust” [“Arbeh” in Hebrew] is called “Grad” in Arabic. The yellow locust [“Sa’lam” in Hebrew] is “Rashona” in Arabic. The spotted gray locust [“Chargol” in Hebrew] is “Chartziyiya” in Arabic. The white locust [“Chagav” in Hebrew] is called “Gandav” in Arabic. According to Yemenite tradition as recorded in the work Arichat Hashulchan, the locust called “Al j’rad” is Kosher, and has three Kosher sub-species all known by that name.
The halacha regarding locusts is that one is allowed to eat a specific type of locust only if there is a “continuous tradition” that affirms that it is Kosher. It is not enough that the locust seems to conform to the criteria mentioned in the Torah. This does not mean that one must possess a ‘personal tradition’ in order to eat locusts. If one travels to a place where the people do have a tradition, the new arrival would also be allowed to eat them. Interestingly, the author of the Arichat Hashulchan points out that locusts were never really considered a ‘delicacy’ – rather they were generally food for the impoverished.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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