Re: Why isn't an ostrich kosher?

Akiva Atwood (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 13:47:04 +0200

Are ostriches kosher?
The Torah lists the Bat Ya'ana as a non kosher bird. There is a tradition
that this is the ostrich, though I don't know if this was = transmitted one
hundred percent. It's true that the ostrich eats mostly plants but it will
also happily eat insects, lizards and small tortoises. Chazal bring the
eating habits of the birds more in order to teach us good midos- not to be
cruel- rather than to define kashrut. The feet configuration is not
reliable. Kosher birds generally have three toes forward and one behind.
Non kosher birds include this configuration and a variety of others.
Ostriches have two toes pointing forward.

One very good guideline for kosher birds is the gizzard. This is a
"stomach" designed for eating grain. It is present in members of the
chicken family (including quails, pheasant etc), finches and I think doves
and pigeons too. The walls are highly muscular and can be easily peeled
out. These birds swallow grit which is used to grind the seed in the
gizzard. Non kosher birds also have gizzards, but not with thick muscular
walls. I don't know about ostrich gizzards, but even if the walls are
thick, that would not prove kosher status.

Akiva & Gila Atwood
POB 27515
Jerusalem, Israel 91274