In much of our liturgy, we say:

הודו לה' כי-טוב כי לעולם חסדו

Turkey for G-d because it is good, because [His/its] loving-kindness is everlasting.


טוב להודות לה

It is good to turkey G-d.

I have a number of questions on this ancient practice which, were this not Purim, I'd break into separate questions.

  1. What does this look like? Does it involve sacrifice?
  2. When did this practice emerge?
  3. Are there communities that still practice it?
  4. Is this the source for the minhag of turkey on Thanksgiving? on Christmas? (maybe out of scope for this forum)

I'd love sources for this.

This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

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    I think that your translation is a little off. כי לעולם חסדו refers to the turkey's loving-kindness. – Daniel Feb 12 '13 at 16:03
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    @Daniel good point - I will edit to show the ambiguity. – Charles Koppelman Feb 12 '13 at 16:06
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    Just to point out for people who don't get it, HOddu (accent on the HO and dagesh in the dd) means India/Turkey (turkey is a new world animal, like American Indians), while hoDU (accent on the DU and no dagesh in the d) means Give Praise. Make sure to pronounce them properly in prayer! #serious – Double AA Mar 18 '13 at 17:29

The practice of offering turkey to God was popular in the time of King David, which is why it appears so often in Psalms. It derived from an older practice of offering turkey to one's parents: people thought, Why offer it to our parents? We can offer it to God!, and did so. The older practice of offering one's parents turkey is alluded to in the verse in Genesis (37:3):

וְיִשְׂרָאֵל אָהַב אֶת יוֹסֵף מִכָּל בָּנָיו כִּי בֶן זְקֻנִים הוּא לוֹ וְעָשָׂה לוֹ כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים

En hamikra omer ela "Darsheni!". This verse makes no sense on first read — what does having a beard have to do with a shirt? — and must be read at a deeper level.

"אהב" is clearly an acronym for "אכל הודו בלילות", "ate turkey at night", so the verse reads:

Jacob ate turkey, from all his sons, at night with Joseph. Because his son [=Joseph] was bearded, he made him a shirt of stripes.

The "shirt of stripes" that Jacob made for Joseph was actually a sort of bib to prevent the barbecue sauce from getting in his beard. It had stripes so that stains would not appear as visibly as they would on a bib that was all one color.

Later, after the time of King David, the custom evolved further. People stopped offering turkey wholly to God and started eating parts of it, as with a korban sh'lamim. Eventually, they stopped offering it at all, and just ate it themselves, from which derives the modern practice of eating turkey on Thanksgiving.

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Actually, the word הודו refers to the country, India. Historically, India has been very good to its Jews.

הודו לה' כי טוב, כי לעולם חסדו

should be translated as

India is of G-d because its loving-kindness has lasted forever.
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Turkey is not indigenous to the old world, so it only became possible to fulfill this forward-looking directive in recent centuries. While most still use chicken for kapparot, I am told (by Americans) that it is more proper to use a turkey now that we are able. This is especially common in Minhag Canada, where the secular turkey-eating holiday occasionally coincides with Yom Kippur (most recently 1989).

Because "hodu" also means "India", it is particularly praise-worthy to offer it with curry.

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A source for eating turkey on Thanksgiving is Jeremiah 33:11.

'קול אמרים הודו את ה' צבאות כי טוב ה' כי לעולם חסדו מבאים תודה בית ה

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I would say that this is certainly a reference to turkey on Thanksgiving. This is based on the following Talmud passage just discovered in the Mi Yodeya Genizah. It reads:

מתני': חייב אדם לאכול הודו ביום ההודאה. גמ': מנה"מ? אמר רבי צרלס אמר קרא הודו לה' כי טוב. מיתבי דת"ר הודו לה כי טוב - מיכן שיש להודות לה' ביום ההודאה אלא אמר רבות אמר קרא הודו לה' קראו בשמו, כשקוראים בשמו ביום ההודאה. גופא אמר רבות קראו בשמו ביום ההודאה כדי שיעלה שמכם לפניו, ובמה, בהודו. ועוד אמר רבות נאמר כאן הודו לה' כי טוב, הודו חד משמע ונאמר כאן טוב להודות לה' תרי הודו משמע דהרי מיעוט הודות שנים א"כ הוו שני כתובים המכחישים זה את זה! אלא אמר רב גרשון קול אמרים הודו, שחד הודו משמע, א"כ מה אני מקיים טוב להודות לה'? אמר רבות לחומרא קא אתי

Mishna: One is obligated to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Gemara: What is the source for this? Rabbi Charles says the verse states "(eat) turkey for God, for it (tastes) good". However (we question) it says in a Beraisa "give thanks to God, for he is good" this teaches us that one must thank God on Thanksgiving! Rather, Rabos says (the source is) from "(eat) turkey for God, (when) you call His name", this is when you call out to God on Thanksgiving. On this, Rabos said "Call his name" on Thanksgiving, in order that your names may rise in front of Him, and with what (method)? With Turkey! Rabos also says it says here "(eat) turkey for God for it (tastes) good", which implies one turkey, and it says here "It is good to have turkeys for God", which implies 2, as the minimum of "turkeys" is two, if so, we have two verses which contradict each other! Rather, Rav Gershon says, "In their voices they say turkey", which implies one. If so, what does "It is good to have turkeys for God" teach us? Rabos answers, it is coming to tell us a stringency.

(note: this was written to bolster my answer here...)

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