Of the bad reputation of crows

The crow is the first bird mentioned in the Torah (Genesis 8:7). According to Resch Lakish (Sanhedrin 108b), this did not happen to the raven’s delight: »The raven gave Noah an appropriate answer. In fact, he said to him: “Your master hates me and you hate me too”. Your master hates me: seven of the clean animals and two of the unclean. You hate me too, for leaving the species of which there are seven in the ark and sending away those of which there are only two. If the prince of heat or the prince of cold attacks me, then there is one creature missing in the world; or do you desire my wife?

Without Rabenmann there is no offspring. Noah replies, “Miserable man, if I am forbidden to engage in otherwise permitted trades, how much more now am I not permitted in what is forbidden?”

coupling Noah alludes to the fact that, according to the Talmud, mating on the ark was forbidden. He continues: “The wise men taught: Three disobeyed this instruction and had intercourse in the ark, and all were punished for it. They are: the dog, the crow and Cham son of Noah.

So the raven’s reputation was rather dubious. Crows were said not to take care of their offspring. In the tractate Ketubot (49b) it is quoted from Psalm 147:9 that the Lord feeds “the young ravens that cry.” This is to say that this would not be necessary if the parents of the young crows did.

Even the rabbis considered the raven to be a liar.

The good deed of the ravens, who supplied the prophet Elijah with meat when he could not deal with it himself and had to hide in Wadi Cherit, is also foreshadowed: Thus Chullin (5a) refers to the sentence: »And the ravens brought bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening” (1 Kings 17:6). Rabbi Anan says the meat was brought by crows from the kitchen of the apostate Ahab.

blood In Bawa Batra (22a) the sound of the crow is imitated. There Rabbi Joseph is said to have had date palms under which the barbers bled their customers. Then the crows came and ate the blood, then they flew into the trees and damaged the dates. Then Rabbi Joseph spoke: “Take me the Kur-Kur away from here.”

This noise has been taken as a bad sign. For example, Shabbat 67b says that some would have reacted to a raven: “If anyone says to a raven: Shriek, and to a female raven: I hiss and turn her tail forever, this must be regarded as a hemoritic custom.”

It is said of Rabbi Ilisch (Gittin 45a) that he once sat in prison and with him a man who could understand the language of birds. Then a crow came and called Rabbi Ilisch. He said to the man, “What does the crow say?” The bird interpreter replied: “Ilish, flee! Ilish, flee!” But Rabbi Ilish replied, “He’s just a lying crow – I don’t rely on him.” So he only tried to escape when a dove arrived with the same message.

Sharpen Even the rabbis considered the raven to be a liar. They discuss the use of iron for the temple in the Shabbat treatise (90a) and ask what it is for. Rabbi Josef replies: “To protect from crows.” The roof of the temple was secured with iron spikes to prevent ravens from roosting on it.

However, although the ravens’ image was bad, the sages taught: “These of three classes love one another: converts, slaves, and ravens” (Pesachim 113b).

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