Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Great Bird Ziz

From Jewish Treats

In honor of National Bird Day, Jewish Treats would like to introduce one of the great creatures of Jewish legend, the Ziz. Whereas the term Leviathan (the giant primordial fish) has entered the modern lexicon, the Ziz is a creature only vaguely mentioned in primary sources.

The Ziz is cited in the Talmud:
Rabbah ben Bar Hana further related: Once we traveled on board a ship and we saw a bird standing up to its ankles in the water while its head reached the sky. We thought the water was not deep  and wished to go down to cool ourselves, but a Heavenly Voice called out: 'Do not go down here, for a carpenter's axe was dropped [into this water] seven years ago and it has not [yet] reached the bottom. And this, not [only] because the water is deep but [also] because it is rapid. Rabbi Ashi said: That [bird that Rabbah ben Bar Hana saw] was Ziz-Sadai (Baba Batra 73b).

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