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I was learning the halachos of Shiluach HaKen recently, and I was stunned to find that while the Shulchan Aruch discusses the halachos of the Mitzvah at length in Yoreh Deah 292, not once does he address how one must send away the bird. Checking other commentaries there yielded no results, either, as did checking the source in the final chapter of Chullin.

How must one send away the bird?

  • Must one physically pick it up and throw it?
  • May one yell at it or otherwise scare it away, without making physical contact with it?
  • May one leave a trail of bread crumbs to lure the bird away from the nest, drawing it close rather than sending it away?
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The Gemara (Chullin 141b) says:

במה משלחה רב הונא אמר ברגליה רב יהודה אמר באגפיה

and Rashi there brings two explanations:

  • (1) Rav Huna says you have to grab it by the feet and send it off, while Rav Yehuda says you have to grab it by the wings and send it off.
  • (2) Rav Huna says it's fine even if it can't fly, so long as it can walk away, while Rav Yehuda says it has to be able to fly.

So the first explanation would mean that you have to physically pick it up. The Rambam (Hilchos Shechita 13:5) paskens that way too: אוחז בכנפיה ומפריחה. The second explanation would mean that any way is fine, and since the Mechaber doesn't bring the Rambam's wording, presumably that's how he holds.

  • The Mechaber paskens that one isn’t allowed to clip the bird’s wings. Does that imply that the Mechaber paskens like Rav Yehuda over Rav Huna, according to your inference? – DonielF Mar 24 at 20:09
  • @DonielF Probably. The Rambam is also paskening like Rav Yehuda (see Kesef Mishneh there), so the Mechaber may well agree with him on that point, while disagreeing on what Rav Yehuda meant. Biur Hagra 292:9 seems to say as much. – Meir Mar 24 at 20:55
  • @Meir Maimonides found a rational explanation for this mitzvah. All the mitzvot can be explained rationally. See Rambam, Ralbag, and ibn Ezra for sources. – Turk Hill Jul 24 at 16:35

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