We just returned from an amazing 3 weeks in Israel, where we attended the Eilat Migratory Birds Festival . On the first morning, we were lucky enough to see huge flocks of migrating Storks soaring overhead.They seemed to sail along effortlessly, heading northward, taking advantage of the high, warm thermals between the mountains of Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. Incredibly, tens of thousands of White Storks pass over Israel every fall and spring!
An occasional Black Stork jumped in to join the White Storks, but they more often flew by singly, making their own way north. What a spectacle to witness these immense, graceful birds gliding high above us!The Stork is mentioned many times in the Tanakh (Bible), including in this week’s Torah reading, Shemini, where it is included in the list of non-kosher birds. Much has been written about the Stork’s name, which in Hebrew is Chassidah חֲסִידָה. The Talmud tells us that the Stork’s name is derived from the word for kindness (Chesed) because it acts with such kindness to its companions, mate and offspring. However, other sources question how such a caring creature can be non-kosher, and say that it is so because it does not behave with Chesed toward those that are not of its kind. (The question of which birds are kosher or non-kosher is a much more complicated story for a future post!)
Among other places, the Stork also appears in the Book of Jeremiah (8:7): “The Stork in the skies knows her appointed time . . .”, referring to her consistently prompt annual arrival as a herald of spring, and signaling the approach of Pesach / Passover.