Hashem ("The Holy One blessed be He" -Chiddushei Aggadot) מְּנַהֶמֶת כְּיוֹנָה "coos like a dove" 3 times a day, lamenting the destruction of the Temple [Berachot 3a].

Oy vey, very haunting. My question is, what is the significance of the "cooing like a dove". Why this particular analogy/imagery? Are cooing doves associated with lamentation?

  • Based on the sefer Arbah Kinyanim, I would like to propose the following, rational interpretion: a dove makes this sound (don't know what the plural of cooing is haha) not once, not twice, but a lot. Sometimes the whole morning long. So too with G-d. G-d does not lament the destruction of the Temple once, twice, but every single time when people gather
    – Shmuel
    Apr 12 at 10:28
  • Connections to Noah perhaps? Apr 12 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


#1 This peshat is found in the Maharal’s Netzach Yisrael 22

ונראה מה שאמר שהיה בת קול מנהמת כיונה, מפני שהיונה הזכר והנקבה מכירין זה את זה ביותר, אין לזכר כי אם נקבה אחת מיוחדת לו, ומפני כך הזכר מצטער אחר זוגתו, שהיא מיוחדת לו. ולפיכך אמר ששמעתי בת קול שמנהמת כיונה, שהוא מנהם אחר זוגתו עבור שהיא מיוחדת לו. כך השם יתברך נוהם אחר ישראל, שהם מיוחדים לו יתברך: ואמר לו אליהו, לא כמו שאתה סובר כי שעה זו בלבד שמעת, ואין זה עיקר כוונתו בעולם הזה, אבל ג' פעמים בכל יום. כי דבר כמו זה, שהוא בית המקדש וישראל, הם עיקר כוונתו של השם יתברך בעולם הזה. לכך בכל יום אומרת כך ג' פעמים, ערב ובקר וצהרים, כי משך הזמן הוא ערב ובקר וצהרים.

"It appears that there was a divine voice like that of a dove, because a male dove and a female dove recognize each other very well. The male only has one special female mate, and therefore, he feels sorry for her. Hence, the male cooes (מנהמת) after his mate because she is special to him. Similarly, Hashem cooes after Bnei Israel, as they are special to Him. Then the continuation of the story: And Eliyahu Hanavi said to him, 'Not as you think have you heard, for it is not only this hour that you have heard, and this is not the main intention in this world, but three times every day. For something like this, which is the Temple and Israel, they are the main intention of Hashem in this world. Therefore, every day one says this three times, evening, morning, and afternoon, for the duration of time is evening, morning, and afternoon.'"

So it seems that this particular analogy/imagery is given because just as the male dove only has one special female mate, and therefore, he feels sorry for her and cooes (מנהמת) after his mate, so too Hashem cooes after Bnei Israel, as they are special to Him. So it seems that the cooing is not lamentation, but a call out of love and yearning to get close.

#2 Thanks to @GershonGold who posted the link, but Ill just translate and summarize: It brings many proofs which says that cooing doves are associated with lamentations:

In Yeshayahu 59:11 it says, "We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away." The Targum Yonatan translates this as, "Our eyes are dimmed before the lords of Babylon who gather against us, growling upon us like bears, and cooing like doves, and so on." The phrase "הגה נהגה" (translated as "we growl") is interpreted by Rashi as "a language of lamentation." In a more detailed explanation, Radak elucidates, "We coo like bears, all of us - the voice of bears is in the voice of lamentation and wailing, and likewise the doves coo with a voice of lamentation, for growling and wailing are found in this matter in the voice of lamentation. Similarly, in Yeshayahu 38:14, "Like a swallow or a crane I chirp; I coo like a dove," the verb refers to the mournful sound made by the doves. This usage is also reflected in the translation by Targum Yonatan as "cooing." In Ezekiel 7:16, it says, “ופלטו פליטיהם והיו אל־ההרים כיוני הגאיות כלם המות איש בעונו, “And if any survive, they shall take to the mountains; they shall be like doves of the valley, cooing together —everyone for their own iniquity.” The Radak explains, "cooing - emitting a sound like a moan, so shall the fugitives do with delight." Metzudat David comments, "And they will flee to the mountains and be dispersed, moaning with a voice of lamentation, like doves gathering in the valleys, all cooing." Another form referring to the sound of the doves appears in Nachum 2:8, "And her slave girls shall be led away captive, moaning like doves, beating their breasts." Targum Yonatan translates this as cooing like the voice of doves, lamenting in their hearts.”

Hope this helps!

Link used: https://daf-yomi.com/DYItemDetails.aspx?itemId=46592

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