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If we don't need the birds' eggs, as they used to, why do we send a mother bird away from her own eggs just to fulfill the mitzvah of Sheluach HaKan? Would the mitzvah even apply if we are doing it just for the sake of the mitzvah and not actually for the eggs? Or would it be more along the lines of "if you need the eggs, then send the mother bird away"?

On that note, if we are going to do the mitzvah still these days, should/do we put the eggs back after we send the bird away and remove the eggs for a little while? Or does that somehow nullify the mitzvah?

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Who says we do try and do it? I've never done it. Perhaps I would if I needed food and was lost in the forest of something. –  Double AA May 13 '13 at 2:54

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

From http://www.star-k.com/kashrus/kk-shiluach-hakan.htm

Even if one does not eat the offspring after taking them, and his sole motivation is to perform the mitzvah, he has properly fulfilled the mitzvah.

To perform a halachic acquisition, they should be lifted to a height of three tefachim (about 12 inches). Upon completion of the mitzvah, one may put back the eggs or chicks and need not keep them.

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Thanks! Exactly what I wanted to know :) –  WhoKnows May 13 '13 at 1:17
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it is actually a matter of dispute whether it is appropriate to do in such circumstances. see rabbi slifkin's essay on the matter. rationalistjudaism.com/2010/08/… –  josh waxman May 13 '13 at 10:10

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