Mate for Life

Leviticus Hizkuni: Vayikra

Mate for Life

Humans are apparently not the only species that can be disloyal to their mates. Throughout the animal kingdom there are examples of numerous species that have no feelings towards their mate beyond the urge to reproduce. However there are a number of exceptions.

“And if his offering to the Lord be a burnt-offering of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons.” Leviticus 1:14

The only two types of birds that are ever allowed to be brought as a sacrifice are what are commonly translated as the turtle-doves and young pigeons. Apparently, according to modern taxonomy, there is no real difference between the two (which leads me to the conclusion that these may be erroneous translations).

Rabbi Hizkiyahu ben Manoach (Hizkuni) inquires as to why it is acceptable to bring the turtle-dove as a mature bird, but one is only permitted to bring a pigeon while it is still young.

Hizkuni claims that this is a direct result of their mating habits. He explains that once turtle-doves mate they will never be with a different bird, even after the death of their mate. Pigeons however are apparently a more frolicsome breed. As such, they are only permitted on the altar when they are still young and innocent, and when mating is still not an issue in their aviary lives.

The Bible is fairly direct and repetitive regarding the punishment and curse laid in store for the adulterer. It is curious that it would also choose to send an indirect message as well by making a comparison to animals.

May we find joy in the embrace of our soul-mates, and for those who have not found them yet – may they find them soon.

Shabbat Shalom,



To my dove, Tamara. May her wing heal quickly.

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