Delight for the Eyes – but is it allowed?

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Note: This week’s Torah Reading (Re’eh) lists kosher and non-kosher species. Where does the peacock fit in?

Hi Rabbi
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.
Many thanks
Aviva

Dear Aviva
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.
Best wishes
Rabbi Rashi Simon

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Tzippy
***
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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