There are many familiar references to the Dove in Jewish literature. Certainly, the Dove is remembered in the story of Noah and the Flood, and as a symbol of peace.
I have posted previously on Birder’s Journey (click here) about the Columbaria or Dovecotes, which housed the Doves and Turtledoves used in Temple sacrifices 2000-3000 years ago. But we also hear about the Dove in connection with the Biblical Book of Ruth, which will be chanted in synagogues around the world next week, during the holiday of Shavuot. Ruth, the ancestress of King David and King Solomon, is described in the Talmud as one of ‘the two doves’ that would be brought forth from Moab.
In fact, when the letters are reversed, the name Ruth in Hebrew (רות) is equivalent to the word for Turtledove (תור). King Solomon‘s Song of Songs also uses the Dove as a metaphor for the Jewish people, and the Midrash tells us that, just as doves are faithful to their mates throughout their lives, the Jewish people are faithful to G-d. (Voice of the Dove).
Many verbal and visual depictions of the festive procession to the Temple during the annual spring holiday of Shavuot include the image of Turtledoves tied to decorative baskets, filled with the pilgrims’ First Fruit offerings.