QUESTION: Rav Papa states that a Tarnegola d'Agma is a species of non-Kosher bird, while a Tarnegolta d'Agma is a Kosher species. (TOSFOS points out that "Tarnegola d'Agma" and "Tarnegolta d'Agma" do not refer to a "rooster of the swamp" and a "hen of the swamp," because it is not possible that the male of a species should be a non-Kosher bird while the female of the same species is a Kosher bird. Rather, these are two entirely different species of birds. See, however, the first approach of Tosfos to Nidah 50b, DH Tarnegolta d'Agma.)
Mereimar taught that they found that the Tarnegolta d'Agma was also Dores, showing that it, too, is a species of non-Kosher bird. RASHI (DH Chazyuha) says that before they realized that the Tarnegolta d'Agma was Dores, they thought that it was Kosher. Rashi presents this as a reason for the Halachah that we do not eat any bird unless we have a Mesorah (tradition) that it is a Kosher bird.
Rashi's explanation, however, seems to contradict the Gemara earlier in Chulin (7a). The Gemara there says that Hash-m does not let even the animal of a Tzadik cause others to sin, and thus surely Hash-m does not let Tzadikim themselves cause others to sin. How, then, is it possible that before Mereimar's ruling, all of the Tzadikim such as Rav Papa permitted the Tarnegolta d'Agma, thinking that it was Kosher and ruling that it was permitted to be eaten, when in fact they were causing themselves and others to eat non-Kosher food? This seems to contradict the Gemara earlier.
(a) The TAZ (YD 82:4) answers this question based on the words of TOSFOS in Gitin (7a, DH Hashta). Tosfos explains in the name of RABEINU TAM that this principle does not mean that Hash-m always prevents a Tzadik from causing others to sin (as implied by the simple meaning of the words). Rather, it means that Hash-m does not let a Tzadik himself eat anything that is prohibited, as it is especially denigrating to a Tzadik to eat something forbidden. Accordingly, the Taz explains that it must be that Rav Papa and the other Tzadikim, through Divine intervention, never actually ate the Tarnegolta d'Agma themselves. The fact that they ruled that it was Kosher and other people ate it as a direct result does not contradict the Gemara earlier, since the special Divine intervention protects only the Tzadikim themselves from eating prohibited food.
(b) The SICHAS CHULIN says that the TESHUVOS HA'ROSH (20:20) implies that the Tzadikim themselves ate the Tarnegolta d'Agma. He suggests that it was possible for Tzadikim to eat the Tarnegolta d'Agma because it really is a Kosher bird. The only reason why they later prohibited it was because they saw one bird of this species eat by being Dores. The Chachamim decreed that from then on all birds of that species may not be eaten.
(c) Other explanations may be suggested, based on the Midrash. The Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 60:8) relates an incident in which Rebbi Yirmeyah sent Rebbi Zeira a basket of figs, without first separating Ma'aser. Rebbi Yirmeyah assumed that Rebbi Zeira would separate Ma'aser, while Rebbi Zeira, upon receiving the gift, thought that it is not possible that Rebbi Yirmeyah would send figs without first separating Ma'aser from them. In the end, the figs were eaten in a state of Tevel, without Ma'aser being separated. Upon hearing about this incident, Rebbi Aba bar Yemina said to Rebbi Zeira that "if the earlier generations were like angels, then we are like people. If they were like people, then we are like donkeys, and not like the donkey of Rebbi Pinchas ben Yair, for his donkey refused to eat barley from which Ma'aser was not separated, while we eat figs from which Ma'aser was not separated!"
There are a number of ways to understand the Midrash, according to which various answers may be suggested to the question on the Gemara here as well.
(It does not seem reasonable to assume that in the incident in the Midrash, the Tzadikim themselves did not partake of the figs from which Ma'aser was not separated, as the Taz says with regard to the Gemara here, because Rebbi Aba said, "We eat figs from which Ma'aser was not separated.")
1. The simple explanation of the Midrash seems to be that they said about themselves that they are no longer in the category of Tzadikim who are protected by Divine intervention from eating prohibited foods. If this is the case, then perhaps the Amora'im who lived when the Tarnegolta d'Agma was permitted also were not included in the category of Tzadikim that merited this protection, just as Rebbi Yirmeyah and Rebbi Zeira -- who lived in the same period -- did not merit this protection, even though they were great Tzadikim. From the fact that Rav Papa proclaimed that the Tarnegolta d'Agma was Kosher, it seems that the Tarnegolta d'Agma was a newly-discovered bird that was thought to be Kosher only for a short period of time (and was not eaten by the Tzadikim of preceding generations, who merited this protection).
2. It is clear that the YEFEI TO'AR learns the Midrash in an entirely different manner. He asks that if Hash-m intervenes and does not let Tzadikim sin, then how could the Tzadikim have eaten something forbidden? (Apparently, the Yefei To'ar either had a different Girsa in the words of Rebbi Aba, or he understood that Rebbi Aba's comment that they did not merit Divine protection was not meant literally, but rather was said by Rebbi Aba out of humility and repentance, while he was expressing how great were the previous generations compared to his own.) He answers that this Divine intervention occurs only when the Tzadik comes upon the forbidden food accidentally. The case of the figs was closer to a case of negligence than accident, as Rebbi Yirmeyah should have told Rebbi Zeira that the figs were Tevel, and Rebbi Zeira should have asked Rebbi Yirmeyah whether Ma'aser had been separated.
The Yefei To'ar's approach may be applied to the Gemara here. Perhaps the fact that the bird was eaten before it was studied (to determine whether or not it is Dores) constituted negligence and not accident, and therefore the Tzadikim did not merit to be protected. (See also the MESHIV DAVAR (YD 22), who writes that there was never a tradition that the Tarnegolta d'Agma was Kosher, and it was just assumed to be Kosher because it looked like a chicken.) (Y. MONTROSE)
OPINIONS: Rav Papa states that a Tarnegola d'Agma is a species of non-Kosher bird, while a Tarnegolta d'Agma is a Kosher species (see previous Insight). Mereimar taught that they found that the Tarnegolta d'Agma was also Dores, showing that it, too, is a species of non-Kosher bird.
May we eat a bird that we do not observe to be Dores, or must we be concerned that perhaps it is Dores and we simply have not yet seen it do so?
(a) RASHI (DH Chazyuha) writes that since we do not know the identities of all of the non-Kosher birds, we should not eat any bird without a Mesorah (tradition). Even though we do not see the bird being Dores, we must suspect that it sometimes is Dores, as was the case with the Tarnegolta d'Agma. Therefore, even when we find three signs of Kashrus in a bird, we may not eat it.
(b) The MAHARSHAL and VILNA GA'ON (YD 82:3, cited by the SHACH) point out that according to RABEINU TAM (cited by TOSFOS to 61a, DH Kol) -- who maintains that when a bird has the three other signs of Kashrus, we may assume with certainty that it is not Dores -- when we find a bird with these three signs, we should be allowed to eat it. The SHACH, however, is not ready to accept this lenient opinion as the Halachah.
(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR writes that when a bird has a wide beak and webbed feet, it may be assumed with certainty that it is not Dores. Therefore, even without a Mesorah we may eat such a bird if it displays the three other signs of Kashrus.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (82:3) records the opinion of the Ba'al ha'Me'or as the Halachah, but the REMA writes that we may not rely on the words of the Ba'al ha'Me'or and we may eat only birds for which we have a Mesorah. (Regarding the well-known question of whether or not we may eat turkey, see Insights to Chulin 63:5.) (Z. Wainstein)