GOOSE (, pl. , pl. ):

According to the Talmudists the domestic and the wild goose are two different species which should not be crossed (B. Ḳ. 55a; Bek. 8a). They are distinguished by the following criteria: The domestic goose has a longer beak than the wild species; its genital organs are more retired under the skin, and it has several eggs in its ovary at the same time, while the wild goose has only one, another being formed after the first has been laid (ib.). In the Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 297, 7, only the second criterion is mentioned. In Yer. B. Ḳ. v. 10 and Kil. viii. 6 a sea-goose is spoken of, which, because it belongs to a different species, ought not to be crossed with a domestic goose. The goose, being a water-fowl, has a very thin brain-membrane (Ḥul. 56b). It is permitted to hold a goose by its wings on the Sabbath while it is moving, but it is not permitted to do so with a hen; because the former when held by the wings moves of its own accord, while the latter has to be dragged; and on Sabbath the moving of things from one place to another in an open space is not allowed (Shab. 128b, Rashi). The foot of a goose is as wide as long (Bek. 45a). Generally a goose returns to its abiding-place at night (Beẓah 24a), but occasionally it settles in a garden (Ḥul. 38b). Geese were known for their honking; compare the saying "You gabble like geese" (Yer. B. B. viii. 7). The Talmudists, referring to Prov. i. 20, declared that one who sees a goose in his dream may hope for wisdom (Ber. 57a). R. Gidal called women "white geese" (Ber. 20a), a term applied by Raba to old and selfish judges (Giṭ 13a).

Besides the flesh and feathers, which are widely used also in modern Jewish households, the fat and lungs of the goose were used, the latter two for medicinal purposes (Ḥul. 49a; Yoma 84a). Geese were also used in thrashing (Sanh. 29b). Rabba bar bar Ḥana in one of his stories similar to the "Lügenmärchen" of modern folk-lore says that he once saw in the desert geese whose feathers were falling out of their bodies on account of their fat, while rivers of oil issued from them. They will be preserved for the great meal to be given to the righteous in the Messianic times (B. B. 73b).

  • Lewysohn, Die Zoologie des Talmuds, pp. 190-192.
S. S. M. Sel.
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