Note: This week’s Torah Reading (Re’eh) lists kosher and non-kosher species. Where does the peacock fit in?
I have an unusual question for you. My firm has a Jewish client, and we are doing the interior design and artwork for their New York residence (they are religious, but well-travelled/worldly and into the arts). We are designing a one-of-kind, bespoke artwork on the theme of birds and our designer wanted to use a stuffed peacock as part of the design. What are the halakhic views on taxidermy?
We haven’t spoken to our client yet about the conceptual ideas, but I thought it would be prudent to get your thoughts on it first, in case it is a non-starter.
Unusual question indeed. You clearly mix in high society.
I am not aware of a halakhic barrier to taxidermy. (See https://www.ou.org/jewish_action/03/2015/off-beaten-track-biblical-museum-natural-history/ for a review of a Jewish museum in Israel with numerous such specimens.) The peacock is mentioned in the Tanakh, by the way, in 1 Kings 10:22 and also (by a different name) in Ezekiel 27:15. In biblical times it was probably brought to the land of Israel from Sri Lanka. The Talmud identifies it a kosher bird. Personally, I would rather gaze upon it than consume it.
Assuming your clients like your idea, I think you can run with it.
Rabbi Rashi Simon