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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Look... up in the sky!

Yes, it's a bird. 

For the past week or so I've been seeing lots of these really large white birds with black markings during my morning drive to work.  I've asked a few of my hitchhikers what kind they are, but the Hebrew answer hasn't helped me much. 

Go ahead and laugh... by a show of hands, how many of you out there know the names of more than a couple of wild birds in English?!  Not so smug any more, are we?

Anyway, while I sat in synagogue this past Shabbat and listened to the Torah reading, a word jumped out from the English translation, and a little light bulb went on.

They were storks (Hasida in Hebrew)!

I asked around after 'shul' and sure enough, this is the time of year when they migrate through Israel on their journey from Africa to Europe.

According to 'Storchennest.de', a German site about, well, Storks (Yes, there really is a web site for everything), there are only two migratory routes that white storks take from their winter habitat in Africa to reach their breeding grounds in Europe; via Gibraltar or via Israel. 

According to the neat map they have on the site, it would seem that the Storks that migrate through Gibraltar are destined for Spain, Portugal and southern France. While the Storks that come through Israel are headed for Germany and even points as far north as Denmark (where the Stork is the national bird!).

On a practical note, if you see any White Storks in Germany or Denmark this summer, you can bet they flew through Israel in early April. 

But in a 'gee wiz' sort of way, how cool is it that the Storks pick the very week they are mentioned in the Torah (parshat Shemini) to fly through Israel?

I'm just saying...

Cross posted on Israelity

Posted by David Bogner on April 3, 2005 | Permalink


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Weird! This really IS a small country. I noticed the same birds this morning on the outskirts of Modi'in. I thought to myself, "Are those storks?" Thanks for providing the answer...and the torah reference is cool even for a secular freak like myself. Kind of like the first rain always happens during the week of Sukkot...

Posted by: harry | Apr 3, 2005 4:30:33 PM

Perfect timing. Now you know you shouldn't eat them. Oh, and that they are detestable! Does the website mention that?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Apr 3, 2005 5:41:59 PM

The first homecomers were already sighted here, depite the extended winter. How could they've known, right?

It's fairly funny you relate the mentioning to the storks and not vice versa. Or...were you just joking? I mean...they sort of have an inner clock [or is it "following the call of nature"], and humans have always, since ages, decades, centuries, been watching birds [let's skip a lecture on Roman seers and birdwatchers at this time].

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Apr 3, 2005 5:56:25 PM

and they come back through around sukkot - always during our negev peanut harvest. I loved them. thanks for reminding me.

Posted by: timna | Apr 4, 2005 6:16:40 AM

I was fortunate to be pregnant during ulpan, thus learning the phrase expecting the "chasida". BTW I recently tried to explain the concept of babies brought by storks (prompted by watching the movie Dumbo) to my now Israeli kids, who did not at all understand the concept...although there were a few other things in that movie that also were explained to blank stares. (Dancing pink elephants, anyone??).

Posted by: WolFam | Apr 4, 2005 6:59:13 AM

Harry... The 'gee whiz' factor of some of these religious tie-ins with everyday experiences seem to be quite common here. I guess the line between religious and secular life is a little fuzzier in Israel than elsewhere in the world. I like that.

Doctor Bean... I especially like the commentary on why they are detestable... because they only show kindness (hesed) to their own - not to all. This is a lesson that we should all review from time-to-time.

mademoiselle a. ... Cool, so now you can tell your friends that these are Israeli visitors (even though they didn't originate here).

As to your other point, yes, it is actually more amazing that the Rabbis who created the schedule of Torah readings for the year were able (accidentally or intentionally) to have this reading fall out during the migration of the Stork through Israel. I stand corrected. :-)

Timna... It occurs to me that we must be quite near one another (at least while I'm at work). Maybe we can have a cup of coffee one day.

Wolfam... Are you suggesting that back when the movie was made, kids had a better understanding of inebriation? :-)

Posted by: David | Apr 4, 2005 9:04:46 AM

Cool, so now you can tell your friends that these are Israeli visitors

Um...like in, now that David has enlightened me on this one? ;) You're a few years late, but I enjoyed the post nevertheless! Really. Walla.

My thesis would be that the reading was scheduled intentionally, since it does follow the seasons, to put it simply and short, but maybe one of your more learned readers [more learned than I am] would like to chip in on that. Should be really interesting!

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Apr 4, 2005 9:18:16 AM

I like these types of connections.
7th of Cheshvan, when the rains are supposed to start, is together with parshat Noach (and the rain).
And in parshat ha-meraglim, the torah states that 'it was the time of the bikurei anavim' - which is the same time that this is actually happening here in israel (well the grapes from the hills not those from the jordan valley).

Posted by: kobi | Apr 4, 2005 12:35:47 PM

I have nothing intelligent to say here. I just think that's pretty cool.

Posted by: Maria | Apr 4, 2005 2:41:29 PM

We're probably close to one another while you're at work and *in the summer*. today I'm still in North America...! but, yes, during the summers, I am between my kids' saba on a negev kibbutz and their safta on rehov hazal in beer sheva! previously, and sometimes it feels like a different incarnation, I myself lived a decade in each of those places. obviously you remind me of the details - haven't thought about hasidot in a long time! I'll look forward to a cup of coffee.

Posted by: timna | Apr 4, 2005 2:50:12 PM

Storks in the Torah and in the air at the same time -- so you mean the Torah is relevant? Really? Wow. And here I thought my rabbi wife was just wasting her time.

Posted by: Isaac B2 | Apr 4, 2005 8:43:54 PM

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