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D'var Torah:
Weekly Torah Portion Commentary

Shemini - 4/4/24

When the Kenosha News printed recipes for cicadas last week, I thought I had seen everything.  But then someone pointed me to an ice cream company that is going to feature a flavor with cicadas when these insects emerge.  I was intrigued to find out if the cicada is kosher.  In this week’s parasha, we find the list of animals permitted and prohibited for a Jew’s consumption, and there are insects among them! 

“These you may eat among the winged swarming things that walk on all fours:  all that have, above their feet, jointed legs to leap with on the ground.” Then locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers are specified. (Lev. 11:21-22) But, cicadas are not locusts.  And according to halachic authorities, cicadas are not kosher. 

Apparently, Yemenite Jews, do include locusts in their diets, but Ashkenazic Jews do not.  I wouldn’t consider eating cicadas even if they were kosher.  I was once served chapulines (fried grasshoppers) in Oaxaca, Mexico.  I tried them, but then quickly washed them down with a beer.  So, I won’t be saying yes to cicada ice cream, but that’s just me…I’m sticking with the kosher species. (Well, some of them!)

-Rabbi Dena A. Feingold


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