This week’s Parsha deals with the procedures involved with the ‘metzora.’ Metzora is often translated as leprosy, but it actually is a more physical manifestation of spiritual dysfunction that can also affect clothing and homes. It is connected to sins of speech – speaking evil of others. The Parsha explains in detail the ceremony conducted by the Kohen (priest) following the physical healing of the ‘leper,’ which marks the beginning of the process of purification. The ceremony required two birds, one which was slaughtered and the other that was set free.
According to Rabbi Yehoshua Greenbaum, the Hebrew word for sparrow is ‘dror’ which means freedom. Birds are difficult to catch but they are noisy creatures. Their purpose in the ceremony is to “impress upon the Metzora the great importance of catching our speech and chatter before they fly off. We must learn to take control over what we say, in order to use words intentionally, productively, lovingly, to good effect.”
Rabbi Greenbaum says:
The use of the two birds is bound up with the double-edged nature of speech, which can be used for good or evil. The Metzora had to watch as one of the chattering birds was slaughtered in front of his eyes, teaching him that he must simply kill his evil talk for all time…When we release ourselves from the bonds of pride and arrogance that enslave us, we are freer than ever to explore the great power of pure speech.
What are kosher birds?
There are 24 avian species of birds in the Torah that are not kosher. All others are considered kosher. Since the time of Moshe, a ‘Mesorah’ (tradition) was handed down from generation to generation, which identified the kosher birds. Some of those details were lost over the last few thousand years and as a result, no one today can identify all of those 24 species. This is also a particular issue in the New World, since new species of birds were encountered by settlers who thought they were the same as European species so they gave it the same name. The OU gives a fascinating explanation and history of how some of that Mesorah was recovered from Europe and their ongoing research into this issue. It’s well worth the read.
For my recipe, I was determined to use quail eggs. I discovered that quails are kosher. (Yes!) Then I discovered that there are a number of types of quail and some aren’t kosher. (No!) I needed to find something called Coturnix. I called up a bunch of farms (good so far) but some were too far away (no way) I emailed the quail farmer from the Chinese supermarket.
(Don’t you love that you can just email the farmer?)
(And isn’t it even better that you can email your local quail farmer?)
He emailed me with the good news – his eggs were Coturnix Japonica. Yay!
Leaf Salad with Quail Eggs
- iceberg lettuce
- frozen/fresh green peas
- quail eggs
How to Cook Quail Eggs
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with an extra inch of water. Bring to a boil then turn off heat. Cover with a lid and let sit for five minutes. Rinse off eggs with cold water to stop the cooking.
You’ll have perfect quail eggs.
Creamy Italian Dressing (from Food.com)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons soy milk
- 1 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoons oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/8 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Place in a jar with tight lid and shake.
B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!