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Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy’

Q & A: The Hoopoe

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004
QUESTION: Why is the hoopoe (lapwing) bird, known in the Bible as the duchifat, considered unclean (see Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18)? It does not seem to be a bird of prey or a carrion- eating bird. There’s a purpose for everything G-d commanded us and I would like to understand the reason for this law.
Robert A. Weiler
Blue Grass, IA
ANSWER: You are correct when you state that there is a purpose for everything that G-d commands us. But we must understand that at times the reasons are not clearly stated in the Torah. These are chukim, laws for which the reasons are not specifically explained.We find an example in Parashat Chukat (Numbers 19:2). The verse states: “Zot chukat haTorah asher tziva Hashem lemor, Dabber el Bnei Yisrael ve’yikchu elecha parah aduma temima asher ein bah mum asher lo alah aleha ol – This is the ordinance of the Torah which Hashem has commanded, saying, Speak to the Children of Israel that they bring to you a red heifer without defect, on which there is no blemish and on which a yoke has not come.” The Torah then proceeds to explain how Elazar the Kohen is to slaughter the red heifer and sprinkle its blood on the altar, as well as the entire procedure until the gathering of its ashes and the Kohen’s ritual cleansing of his garments.

Rashi ad loc. (19:2 s.v. Zot chukat haTorah) explains the word chukah. He says that Satan and the nations of the world vex Israel, saying, “What is this command and what is its reason?” Therefore, it states, “It is an enactment - chukah” before Me, Hashem, and you have no right to question it.

On the other hand, in our case of the duchifat we might argue that there is a reason to be understood by us as, the verse clearly states (Leviticus 11:13), “Ve’et eleh teshaktzu min ha’of lo ye’achlu, sheketz hem - And these you shall abominate from among the birds, they may not be eaten, they are an abomination…” The reason we are not to eat these birds is that they are an abomination.

You seek to take a closer look at the reason for the sake of better understanding the Torah.

What is interesting is that only in regard to fowl is there no mention in the Torah of identifying signs which denote their being prohibited, unlike animals, fish and insects, for which the Torah furnishes identifying signs of kashrut.

Though the Torah does not provide this information, the Talmud does, as we find in Tractate Chullin (59a, Mishna). The Sages state that the following are signs that distinguish between kosher and non-kosher fowl: “Any bird that claws [holds down its prey with its claws as it eats, see Rashi ad loc.] is tamei, unclean. Any bird that has all of the following: an extra toe [behind, raised higher on the foot than the other toes, Rashi ad loc.], a crop (crest), and a gizzard (gullet) that can be peeled, is clean [and may be eaten].”

We note (ibid. 61b-62a) that R. Nachman rules that for one who is an expert in the matter of checking, finding even one sign [of kashrut] is sufficient.

Rambam (Hilchot Ma’achalot Asurot 1:16-19) rules that if a bird has one of those signs and does not claw, and we have a masoret [a tradition from previous generations of this bird being kosher], then it is kosher.

R. Yosef Caro (Yoreh De’ah 82:1-2) rules that a bird that exhibits all three signs and, of course, does not claw, and is also part of a masoret, is considered kosher. He adds that if the bird has a broad beak and the palm of its foot is broad, like geese (even though we may not have observed yet whether that bird claws or not), we assume that it surely does not claw and is surely kosher, provided it has the other three signs.

The Rema, however (in his Darchei Moshe on the Tur ad loc.), clearly states that one should, nevertheless, not rely on this and should only eat those birds for which we have a masoret.

Now that we know the identifying signs of non-kosher birds, from the first listed in the Mishna, “any bird that claws,” we might see a reason why Hashem prohibited the other birds: Tosafot (Chullin 61a s.v. “Hadoress”) state that these birds claw at their prey and eat it alive, without waiting for it to die.

Ramban, in his commentary on Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 11), explains that all the animals and birds that claw and catch their prey in this way possess the terrible trait of brutality (and we are what we eat…). Therefore the Torah wished to distance us from these categories of animal life as a source of food lest our hearts acquire such a brutal nature.

In order to identify the forbidden birds, including the duchifat, we refer to our commentaries with some of their translated texts that we are fortunate enough to possess today.

In the Linear English Chumash (S.S.&R. Publishers) we find each of the described unclean birds with (for the most part) names we can recognize. The nesher is translated as the “great vulture”; the peres as the “bearded vulture”; the da’ah as the kite; the ayah as the falcon; the orev as the raven; the bat haya’anah as the ostrich; the tachmas as the night hawk; the shachaf as the sea mew (seagull); the netz as the hawk; the kos as the “little owl”; the shalach as the cormorant; the yanshuf as the “great owl”; the tinshemet as the “horned owl”; the ka’at as the pelican; the racham as the “carrion vulture”; the chasida as the stork; the anafa as the heron; the duchifat as the hoopoe; and the atalef as the bat.

The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash correctly questions the translation of these names and, in its commentary, notes the inconsistencies in determining which birds they are. In its English
translation, ArtScroll chose to only transliterate the names, and in its commentary notes it cites the various views as to what birds they might be.

In the Linear Chumash, on the other hand, we notice an obvious difficulty in their translation of Rashi. In verse 11:18 “tinshemet” is translated as “horned owl,” but in the translation of Rashi’s text it is referred to as “kalbashuritz” and “chauvesouris” (old French), which is similar to a mouse that flies at night, namely, the bat. It is obvious from Rashi’s text that we cannot accept the translation of tinshemet as a horned owl.

Thus we see how difficult it is to accurately describe these birds and translate their names. Yet Rashi does give us a description of the duchifat. He refers to “tarnegol habar” (lit. “wild rooster”) whose comb [crest] is doubled over, and in old French [it is referred to as] herupe; and why has its name been designated as duchifat? Shehodo kafut, because its splendor is tied, and that [its splendor] is its comb [crest]. The duchifat is called nagar tura, carpenter of the mountain, by Targum Onkelos because of its characteristics, as our Rabbis explained in Tractate Gittin (68b):

The Gemara there discusses King Solomon’s dilemma. He wished to build the Holy Temple but was restricted from using cutting tools to cut the large stones from the quarries into smaller building blocks.

The Gemara relates how Solomon encountered the demon Ashmedai (Asmodeus), who told him of the shamir, a small worm that possessed the unique ability to cut stone. Ashmedai further said that the only creature that might bring him the shamir was the tarnegol habar, the wild rooster or wild cock (as translated by the ArtScroll Schottenstein Edition of the Shas.)

The key element of this description is that the wild rooster or duchifat utilizes its clawing ability to pick up the shamir.

We now refer to the Encyclopedia Judaica - though it is somewhat at odds with this description due to certain discrepancies, particularly the illustration – where we find another aspect of this bird that makes it unfit for kosher consumption (Vol. 8:970):

“HOOPOE (Heb. duchifat; AV ‘lapwing’), bird included in the Pentateuch among the unclean birds (Lev. 11:19; Deut. 14:18). The hoopoe was confused by Karaites with the chicken, for which reason they prohibited the eating of the latter (see Ibn Ezra on Lev. 11:19), even though the two are in fact distinguished from each other by many characteristics. Because of its crest, which is no more than an erectile tuft of feathers, the hoopoe is called ‘the wild cock’ in the Talmud (Git. 68b). Smaller than a dove, it feeds on insects, and is distinguished by its beautifully colored plumage. Its flesh exudes an offensive smell which is particularly strong near its nest and repels anyone trying to approach it. This perhaps was the reason certain legends associated with it, such as that it guards treasures in its nest, and was entrusted with transporting the shamir, the miraculous worm that split the stones of the Temple, the use of an iron tool for the purpose having been prohibited (Deut. 27:5; Hul. 63a).”

Thus we see that the duchifat is indeed considered a bird of prey, and as such we can begin to understand the reason that the Torah prohibited it to us.

Q & A: ‘Bal Tosif’ And The Shofar Blasts (Conclusion)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003
QUESTION: I do not understand the practice of blowing so many extra blasts of the shofar, as is done in most synagogues on Rosh Hashana. Is that not in violation of the command bal tosif, as stated in Deuteronomy (13:1), “You shall not add to [G-d's commandments]“?
Elliot Solomon
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: Last week we discussed the types and the sequence of the shofar blasts. This week we present our conclusion, focusing on the concept of adding to the minimum required number of blasts.

* * *

Tosafot (Rosh Hashana 33b) s.v. “Shiur teruah”, refer to the Aruch (by Rabbi Natan ben Rabbi Yechiel zt”l, a contemporary of R. Gershom Me’or Hagolah and Rashi). We now quote from the text as found in the Aruch, under the entry “arev de’halin”, where he states as follows – referring to the verse (Isaiah 25:8), “Bila hamavet la’netzach… – Death shall be destroyed forever…” and another verse (ibid. 27:13) stating, “Vehayah ba’yom hahu yitaka be’shofar gadol – And it shall be on that day that a great shofar will be sounded…”: When Satan hears the shofar the first time, sometimes he is alarmed and sometimes he is not alarmed. But when he hears the shofar blast a second time, he is suddenly aware that the shofar blast is the great shofar heralding his own destruction, and he is thus shaken and confused and has no time to prosecute. (See Rosh Hashana 16b, where the Gemara explains that some of the blasts are performed while sitting and some while standing in order to confuse Satan).

From here, continues the Aruch, we learn that those who are strict blow 30 blasts while “sitting”, namely, before the amida (of Mussaf); 30 during the silent Shemoneh Esreh; and 30 according to the order [of Malchuyot, Zichronot, Shofarot in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh]. These sounds parallel the 100 sobs of the mother of Sisera [when she heard of her son's defeat (Shoftim 5:28)]. Since the blasts listed here only total 90, the Aruch continues, an additional 10 [blasts] are blown when they finish the entire prayer, and this last set must  be TaShRaT, TaShaT, TaRaT, a set of 10 blasts, for a total of 100. (The custom is to blow these 10 blasts during the concluding Kaddish.)

We can now address your interesting question. The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 33b) concludes that we fulfill the mitzva with 30 blasts. Nevertheless, we follow the Aruch and blow an additional 70 blasts. You ask whether, in doing so, we transgress the prohibitory precept of “bal tosif.”

This precept is derived from two biblical verses. One is found in Parashat VaEt’chanan (Deuteronomy 4:2): “Lo tosifu al hadavar asher anochi metzaveh et’chem velo tigre’u  mimenu … – You shall not add to that which I have commanded you nor shall you detract from it…” The other verse is in Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 13:1) “Et kol hadavar asher anochi metzaveh et’chem oto tishmeru la’asot, lo tosef alav velo tigra mimenu – Every matter that I have commanded you, you shall take care to observe; you shall not add to it nor shall you detract from it.”

Rashi in his commentary gives numerous instances of how one might violate this command. Some examples are: attempting to enhance the mitzva of tefillin with five parashiyot instead of four, using five species on Sukkot for the mitzva of the lulav (one more than what the Torah commanded), adding a fourth blessing to the three of Birkat Kohanim (see Rosh Hashana 28b, which also discusses netifat hadam, the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices. The blood of a sacrifice which requires only one sprinkling, such as that of a firstborn animal sacrifice, is not to be mixed with the blood of other sacrifices, such as shelamim or asham - peace offerings or guilt offerings - which require four sprinklings. This is also a case of not adding and not diminishing.)

Commenting on the verse in Deuteronomy (4:2), Da’at Zekenim explains that if one adds to a commandment, one is considered to be detracting from it because of the rule of “Kol hamosif gore’a” – Whosoever adds, detracts. Therefore, should one add a fifth tzitziyot, he has lost out by not fulfilling the required mitzva of four tzitiyot. Likewise, as Rashi states, a fifth parasha in the tefillin, or five species for the precept of lulav (and etrog) invalidate the entire mitzva.

Da’at Zekenim then concludes by explaining that if one sits for eight days in the sukka, the eighth day is not added to the seven days to invalidate them, and what he has done (on the seven previous days) is considered to be a fulfillment of the mitzva. Da’at Zekenim bases this opinion on the Gemara’s (Sukka 47a) conclusion in reference to the eighth day, which might actually be the seventh day: “The halacha is that indeed we do sit in the sukka, but we may not recite the beracha (leishev basukka).”

Beit Yosef in his commentary on the Tur (Orach Chayyim 668) cites the Rosh, who explains that the reason we do not recite the blessing (leishev basukka) is that the last day is referred to as Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly (which is considered a separate festival). If it is still Sukkot then it is not Shemini Atzeret. On the other hand, if it is Shemini Atzeret it is not Sukkot. Since we have a doubt, we opt for strictness and continue to eat in the sukka. However, we do not recite the blessing.

If such is the case, then why not use the lulav on that day as well, as we have done throughout Sukkot? Beit Yosef explains that as regards the lulav they did not wish to rule that we should take it without reciting a blessing – since there is a doubt – because it would then be considered muktzeh on Yom Tov. As regards the sukka, at times sitting in the the sukka is quite pleasurable, and thus we will eat in it on the last day of Yom Tov (Shemini Atzeret).

Regarding tekiat shofar, we might ask whether it can be compared to the mitzva of lulav, and thus we may not blow any additional blasts beyond the 30, or whether it is similar to the sukka, where, although we do not recite a blessing, we do sit in it (on the eighth day). Do we violate “bal tosif” when blowing beyond the first 30 blasts?

Tosafot (Rosh Hashana 16b s.v. “Vetok’im”; and note also Tosafot 28b s.v. “Umina teimra”) ask this question. How can the Gemara state that we blast the shofar when we sit (before the amida), preceded by the two berachot, Lishmo’a kol shofar and Shehecheyanu – see Orach Chayyim 585:2, Hilchot Rosh Hashana – and then blast the shofar when we stand (during the amida) in order to confuse Satan, when this seems to be a violation of “bal tosif”, not to add to a mitzva?

Tosafot then postulate that since the first set of tekiot fulfill the obligation, any additional blasts would not be in a timely manner of performance. Since the mitzva has been [completely] fulfilled, there cannot be a violation of “bal tosif.” That is further explained by Tosafot regarding Birkat Kohanim, the [three] priestly blessings to which a kohen may not add a blessing of his own. As long as it is still within the time when the Priestly Blessing may be recited, and possibly another assemblage in need of the Priestly Blessing will call upon his services, he may not insert a blessing of his own (because that would be a hefsek, an interruption). Here as well, perhaps it is possible that another congregation will seek out the ba’al tekiah to blast the shofar for them, thus it is still timely, and any additional blasts possibly constitute a bal tosif.

Tosafot then allay this concern and point out that the rule of bal tosif is not relevant when one fulfills a mitzva (in its entirety) more than one. Thus, even where a kohen blesses the same assemblage twice (the three berachot are recited twice) or if one takes the lulav twice, or in our case, if one blasts the shofar (the required thirty blasts) and then blasts again, or regarding the sprinkling of blood of the sacrifice of the firstborn animal, and the kohen sprinkles at the same corner (of the altar) twice, this is not considered a violation of bal tosif.

Yet even with the analysis of Tosafot we still do not fully comprehend how it is not bal tosif. For further clarification, we turn to Responsum 20 of the Ketav Sofer (R. Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer-Shreiber, zt”l, one of the great poskim of Hungarian Jewry in the 19th century), where his main topic is the sukka on the eighth day, on Shemini Atzeret, regarding eating, sleeping, etc. In that responsum he discusses our problem at great length. He cites Rashba (in Rosh Hashana 16b), who states as follows: “Whenever there is an enactment by the Sages (which appears to be in violation of bal tosif), there is actually no bal tosif, and thus we may add to the blasts of the shofar and, likewise we sit in the sukka on the eighth day – which is possibly the seventh day - because for a mitzva to be considered in an untimely fashion there is a need of intent (kavana), and without that element of premeditation there is no bal tosif.”

Rashi (Eruvin 96a) s.v. “ve’od ha’yashen ba’shemini basukka” states that if the day is indeed the eighth day, it is understood that the specific intent is not to fulfill any obligation of sukka. This would be satisfactory in a case where there is true doubt. Today we are considered “beki’im bi’keviat di’yarcha,” experts at calculating the calendar, and thus when we observe a second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora, we keep the traditions of our fathers, as our sages instruct us. Since we do it at the behest of our sages, there is no bal tosif.

Similarly, in our case we deduce that where the Sages have decreed to blast the shofar again (and it appears to be timely), one is considered to be an annuss, one who is forced against his will to fulfill the instruction of the Sages. According to Rav Shreiber’s scholarly thesis, as we noted at the outset, our blasting of the extra tekiot on Rosh Hashana does not violate bal tosif.

Indeed, may the final blast of the shofar at the conclusion of Yom Kippur shatter Satan as well as those who wish Klal Yisrael any harm, and may it herald the beginning of our final redemption. As we read (Isaiah 27:13), “Vehayah bayom hahu yitaka beshofar gadol, u’[b]a’u ha’ovdim be’eretz Ashur ve’hanidachim be’eretz Mitzrayim vehishtachavu la’Hashem behar hakodesh biYerushalayim - And it shall be on that day that a great shofar will be sounded, all those who were lost in the land of Ashur will come, and the outcasts in Egypt, and they will bow to Hashem on His holy mount in Jerusalem.”

Le’shana haba’ah biYerushalayim ha’benuya – Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem.

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