One of the most beloved birds in many cultures around the world is the ‘cha•si•da,’ the stork. Besides being a beautiful bird, the stork resembles in its lifestyle one of the most important human ethical qualities: faithfulness. The stork has been known to be loyal and faithful to their opposite-sex life partner despite long separation from each other during the winter months. The ‘chasida’ is also faithful to its nest and returns to it every year after long journey of thousands of miles.
Since the early days of Christianity, the stork has symbolized innocence, modesty, kindness and loyalty, and it was associated in early Catholicism with the image of the Virgin Mary. Earlier in time, the ancient Greek noticed that the stork helps mankind by eating dangerous rodents and snakes and imposed the death penalty for those who killed storks.
There is an interesting connection between the name ‘chasida’ and ‘chasid,’ the Biblical name of a ‘righteous man.’ Both words come from the root ‘che•sed,’ which means goodness, grace, charity, and mercy.
The paramount biblical virtue of ‘che•sed’ is perhaps the most important in scriptural ethics. It has ample mentioning in the Bible − more than 400 times. In relation to God, ‘che•sed’ is a part of a well-known phrase that is an endearing attribute − almost another name for God. This beautiful phrase has become a part of the Hebrew traditional prayer: ‘E•rch A•pa•yim veRav Che•sed,’ (Long Suffering, and Abundant in Goodness). This attribute was first said by Moses:
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth’”
Moses says this exact name again and this time the English translation is a bit different:
“The Lord is long suffering, and of great mercy”
The Book of Psalms solidifies this expression and it now becomes a name to be used by future generations. The English text in Psalms is a bit different, but remains the same in its two identical references:
“long suffering, and bountiful in loving kindness”
Despite the great virtues of the stork and their resemblance to some of the Bible virtues, there is no biblical explanation for why the ‘cha•si•da’ is referred to using this name in the Bible.
“The stork in the heaven also knows her appointed times; and the turtle and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord”
‘Chasida’ is also a female Hebrew name (not too frequent) and is found mostly among orthodox Jews.