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The Rama in Yoreh Deah 11:4 cites a custom that some shochtim (ritual slaughterers) won't slaughter a goose during Teves or Shevat unless they eat from the heart of the animal.

הגה: מקצת שוחטין נזהרין שלא לשחוט שום אווז בטבת ושבט אם לא שאוכלין מלבה, משום שקבלה היא שיש שעה אחת באותן חודשים: אם שוחט בה אווז – ימות השוחט אם לא אוכל ממנה. ונוהגין לאכול מן הלב (תשב"ץ בשם רבי יהודה חסיד).‏

Is this still practiced today? That is, do shochtim refrain during these months if they don't eat from the heart?

It's also sourced somewhere (though I don't remember where) that eating an animal's heart makes one forget his learning. How/why, then, would shochtim slaughter geese and eat of the hearts?

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    can we start asking about the other crazy things in sefer chassidim, or just ones that are quoted by the Rama? – הנער הזה Jun 24 '14 at 4:25
  • sam, please ensure that my edit reflects your intent. – msh210 Jun 24 '14 at 5:25
  • I was asking more what do shochtim do today ,are they afraid to shecht or they follow this minhag,talking 2014 not 1880 – sam Jun 24 '14 at 15:24
  • In U.S., it's tough to get kosher geese. (I'm not sure why that is. There are far more Canadian geese in my area messing up the baseball fields and golf courses, that it should be easy to slaughter one of them. Apologies to the animal lovers out there.) So, it's tough to say if they are following any minhag, here, these days. – DanF Jan 4 '17 at 20:13
  • @DanF Geese can be made treif because of damaged esophagi induced by force-feeding. – MTL Mar 27 '17 at 22:55
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+50

This practice is also brought down by Simla Chadasha (11:10); see the מטה אשר there (12) who brings from the פלתי that this practice is from ר' יהודה החסיד and was only a concern then, because in his time there were many who practiced כישוף (magic) on geese, but is now no longer a concern.

אין להקפיד ע"ז, כי אז בימי ר"י החסיד היה הזמן גורם, כי רבו אז המכשפים באווזות, אבל עכשו לית חשש כלל

One needn't worry about it, because during the time of R' Yehuda HaChassid there were many who practiced כישוף on geese, but now there is no concern at all. [translation mine]


I asked my rebbi, and he told me that one time he was shechting geese in Teves, and found himself wondering if there is still a הקפדה on this stringency of R' Yehuda HaChassid. He asked his rebbi (Rav Yisrael Belsky), and he was told that there is nothing to worry about; but, suspecting that the chassidim might still worry about it, he also asked the Satmar Rebbe1, who told him that even among the chassidim, no one worries about this anymore.


....I don't know about the hearts, but not all agree that the heart of a bird is קשור לשכחה, because the only thing brought in the Gemara is animal hearts. Also, if you see the Simla Chadasha in the link, he records that while some had the custom to eat from the heart, others ate from the liver and still others from the legs2....it's possible that those who would tell you that avian hearts are problematic for memory would tell you to eat a different part of the goose.
1 R' Aharon -- not a political statement, just an anecdotal one!
2 He ends off by saying "נהרא נהרא ופשטיה," (literally "every river has its tributary") meaning that you could really eat whatever part of the goose you want.

  • I know the Ben Ish Chai Achrei Mos shana 2:11 writes that eating even chicken hearts causes timtum. – sam Jun 24 '14 at 1:02
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    +1. The possibility of extending the amnesiac properties of eating animal hearts (see Horayos 13b) to eating bird hearts, too, is mentioned in Orchos Chayim (vol. 1, Hil Talmud Torah §25) and Tashbetz Katan (§558), as well as in works of several acharonim. See Yalkut Yosef (Hashkamat HaBoker, fn. to 2:11) for a detailed discussion of this topic, including the tension between this custom and the custom mentioned in the OP. – Fred Jun 24 '14 at 1:37
  • also brought in taz 116.6 – hazoriz Nov 24 '14 at 4:12

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