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Parsha Mitzvot: Shemini: Mitzvah 161 – Concept 181

“These shall you abominate from among the birds, they may not be eaten; they are an abomination: the 1) nesher, 2) the peres, 3) the ozniah; 4) the da’ah,and the ayah according to its kind; 5) every orev according to its kind, 6) the bas hayaanah, 7) the tachmos, 8) the shachal, and 9) the netz according to its kind; 10) the kos, 11) the shalach, and 12) the yanshuf; 13) the tinshemet, 14) the ka’as, and 15) the racham; 16) the chasidah, 17) the anafah according to its kind, 18) the duchifas, and 19) the atalef (Vayikra 11:13-19).” We may not eat non-kosher birds (Rambam, Hilchot Ma’achalot Assurot – The Laws of Forbidden Foods). (Please Note: I did not count the da’ah and the ayah as two, based on the opinion of Rav Abahu in the Gemara.)


Rabbi Yehoshua Heller, teaches that just as God used birds in the Covenant Between the Pieces to warn Avraham Avinu of the troubles of the exile, the 19 birds listed above are all signs of spiritual dangers. The nineteen birds listed correspond to the Nineteen Blessings of the Amidah, as each blessing protects us from a specific danger, and uses the attributes of the birds listed to protect us.

For example: The Nesher, or eagle, is described by the Sages as carrying its young on its back rather than underneath, for it does not fear other birds only the arrows of men. She therefore places herself between the arrow and her child to protect her young. This is reflected in the blessing of Avot, the Patriarchs, or, our parents, and affords us parental protection. Divrei Yehoshua: Beit Tefillah

Bli neder, I will try to write up more of this extraordinary teaching over the coming week.

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