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Dvar for Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

The Torah names several non-kosher birds, which most commentators assert are not kosher due
to their aggressive nature or eating habits. However, two of the birds listed have names that seem
to indicate virtuous qualities. The “racham,” which means merciful, and the “chassida,” which
means kind one. Why are these birds, named for mercy and kindness, included in the list of birds

prohibited from consumption?Rabbi Yochanan Zweig points out that mercy and kindness can be misplaced and inappropriate.
Compassion can be misplaced when applied to evil people, and kindness can be inappropriate
when one constantly highlights their own kindness to others. Virtues are meant to fuel us
internally, not be flaunted to others. We are granted the talents, tendencies, virtues, and
opportunities to use them; choosing how we use them makes all the difference.