Israeli National Bird: the Hoopoe

Did you know that the Hoopoe was chosen to be the Israeli National Bird, in 2008?  The Hoopoe, or Duchifat in Hebrew, is mentioned in VaYikra (Leviticus) as a bird which Jews are not permitted to eat, along with eagles and vultures. Notwithstanding that utterly stupid Colbert video (gee, thanks, Dov Bear) which disses Israel's choice of bird, what he doesn't know (Colbert, that is) is that the special thing about the Duchifat is that it is the bird which can catch that special worm, the shamir, which it is written, cuts the stones to build the Beit HaMikdash--the Holy Temple.  As the legend goes,

The duchifat is called nagar tura, carpenter of the mountain, by Targum Onkelos because of its characteristics, as our Rabbis explained in Tractate Gittin (68b):

The Gemara there discusses King Solomon's dilemma. He wished to build the Holy Temple but was restricted from using cutting tools to cut the large stones from the quarries into smaller building blocks. The Gemara relates how Solomon encountered the demon Ashmedai (Asmodeus), who told him of the shamir, a small worm that possessed the unique ability to cut stone. Ashmedai further said that the only creature that might bring him the shamir was the tarnegol habar, the wild rooster or wild cock (as translated by the ArtScroll Schottenstein Edition of the Shas.)

The key element of this description is that the wild rooster or duchifat utilizes its clawing ability to pick up the shamir.

May the Duchifat, Israel's National Bird, be able to pick up the shamir, in order that we will see the Third Beit HaMikdash built speedily, in our day!
Shabbat shalom!



And in case you wondered, this is how a Duchifat sounds:

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