The Miracle Of The Quail and the Mesorah of Birds

QUAIL   The 2 images below are from   ספר זבחי כהן Livorno 1832.  They are images of the kosher birds accepted in Italy at that time. #8 is the quail .Quail listed as #8 in Italian from  ספר זבחי כהן Livorno 1832

Quail from  ספר זבחי כהן Livorno 1832



פרשת בהעלותך text of the story of the manna and the quail

במדבר י-יא  text of the story of the manna and the quail

1. The mesorah of Birds

2. Quail, the mesorah and pictures

3 A fascinating scientific explanation of the deaths from eating the quail

1  The Mesorah of Birds

Since the Torah gives no simanim as to the kashrut of birds,  rather lists only the non kosher species, chazal gave us 4 signs that that only kosher birds have.

3 are anatomical,  the bird must have a crop or זפק, a gizzred or  קורקבן that the in inner membrane peels out of easily and it must have an “extra toe” explained as either a long middle toe or a nub on the backside of the hand. The fourth sign is dependent on observation and it is that the bird is not an attacking animal or a דורס

סימני בהמה וחיה ל נאמרו מן התורה, וסימני העוף לא נאמרו.

אבל אמרו חכמים, כל עוף הדורס, טמא.

כל שיש לו אצבע יתרה, וזפק, וקרקבנו נקלף, טהור

מסכת חולין · פרק ג · משנה ו

Due to the similarity of birds and the the case the talmud mentions of  a mixup, Rashi and in his footsteps, the shulchan aruch paskened that a kosher bird can only be eaten if we have a mesoret, a tradition it is kosher

2 Quail: Collecting the Mesorah, Testimony and Pictures

תשובת בנין אב של הרב בקשי דורון בענין שליו

We received the mesorah on quail from a number of people. Some were old shochtim from north africa. Most notably an old Polish shochet Rabbi Zwiegenhaft gave a public passing of the mesorah at an OU conference on kashrut of birds in NYC in front of 400 people . Rav Shlomo  Machpud of Benei Brak also has the mesorah.

To understand how we have been cataloging and documenting the mesorot look at these links


In Dec 2009 Rav SHlomo Machpud was shechting sheep in Australia.

We were approached about a certain quail in Austrailia that has a very slight feather coloration that was different than a US cotournix japonicus.

Rav Machpud was matir it and all the other color vriations ( white and dark) as they are all the same bird.

תמונות של השליו שרב מחפוד התיר באוסטליה

תעודת מסורת השליו מהגאון רב שלמה מחפוד שליט”א באוסטרליה

עוד עדויות על מסורת השליו ופסיון

3  Coturnism– The unusual  fatal disease after eating quail. It is associated only with quail after they have flown for an extended period of time

Coturnism: Human Poisoning By European Migratory Quail

Authors: David C. Lewis a; Elizabeth Metallinos-Katzaras b; Louis E. Grivetti c


Coturnism is human poisoning from European migratory quail (Coturnix commix coturnix L.). While the name is recent, coturnism has been documented since antiquity. Most cases exhibit generalized weakness, progressing to severe muscle pain and lower limb paralysis, vomiting and discolored urine (myoglobinuria). Patients may experience severe gastroenteritis-diarrhea, fever, voice loss and death from cardiac or kidney failure. Toxic quail cannot be differentiated from safe. Geographical distribution of coturnism is concentrated in four discontinuous regions of the Old World: northern Algeria, southern France, mainland and eastern insular Greece, and the southwestern Soviet Union. Quail are toxic in Algeria and France during the northward spring migration but safe to eat on the autumn return flight. This pattern is reversed in Greece and the Soviet Union where quail are poisonous on the southern, autumn flight. Ancient writers and modern scientists have suggested that seeds from hemlock (Conium maculatum) or aristolochic acid-consuming insects eaten by quail are responsible. Experimental data presented in this study refute both hypotheses. Current evidence suggests that seeds from Slachys annua, a member of the mint family (Labiatae), may be the mechanism.

Beautiful explanation of the story of the miracle of the quail in bamidbar

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