Can one fairly be judged as a "bad person" or a naval bir'shus haTorah (see bottom) if he actively seeks out opportunities for shilu'ach hakan gratuitously (i.e. does not make use of the young birds)?

The G'mara seems to imply that the mitzva specifically applies to usable birds happened upon by chance. I suppose this does not preclude the possibility for a kiyum (fulfillment) of the mitzva in the absence of one or more of these conditions, but it is still not clear to me whether such activity is recommended.

  • 1
    0 At the risk of being pedantic, it's "Shiluach Haken." "Kan" is a smichut, and would only be used when describing or modifying another word. Most commonly, it is used in conjunction with צפור, meaning "the nest of a bird"- both in the original verse (Devarim 22:6), and in the forbidden phrase "על קן צפור יגיעו רחמיך," found in Berachos 5:3 and Megillah 4:9.
    – Ariel
    Commented Apr 21, 2010 at 17:36
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    At the risk of being pedantic in a different way, Rav Chayim Kanievsky is quoted as saying, based on a Ra"n, that both are acceptable pronunciations. (Source: amazon.com/Shiluach-Hakan-Practical-Naftali-Weinberger/dp/…)
    – WAF
    Commented Apr 21, 2010 at 20:09
  • See also judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8265.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 16:35

3 Answers 3


I will, bli neder, try to find sources but I recall that there is a major shita that al pi sod one should do so even when one has no need.:

Pischei Teshuvah 292:1 cites the Chavos Yair chapter 67 that one is required to send away the motherbird even if he has no need for the eggs/chicks. A number of authorities including the Aruch HaShulchan rules this way.

Although it would appear that a number of authorities rule one is not obligated, it seems to me inappropriate to refer to someone who does so as a "naval bir'shus haTorah" when many authorities rule on is not just allowed (reshus)to but commanded to do so.

For further discussion I would recommend: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/04/sending-away-mother-bird.html http://dafyomi.co.il/chulin/insites/ch-dt-139.htm

  • Yes. What I'd always heard was that by the reasoning of the Gemara, Ramban on Chumash, and Rambam, it's about being compassionate when/if you take the eggs, but no point of going out of your way to look for the opportunity. (For an extreme example -- there's a mitzva about how to handle a divorce, but try not to need a divorce! Some mitzvas are "do X"; some are "if you do X, do Y", where X is optional; some are "if X unfortunately happens, do Y.") But kabbalistically (Zohar?), shiluach haken is supposed to do great things, so people seek it out.
    – Shalom
    Commented Apr 21, 2010 at 16:25
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    Even under the assumption that doing the act gains one great reward, which the Zohar and others identify as either bearing [more] children or lengthening one's life, it could still be the case that the act of taking the young should be followed up by putting them to good use rather than performing one requirement at the risk of transgressing another.
    – WAF
    Commented Apr 21, 2010 at 20:07
  • It's not just about the reward (that's in the Chumash and Talmud). The Zohar says that the act of shiluach hakein itself causes (IIRC) an increase of Heavenly mercy towards us. (Don't ask me what that means or why.) Hence people would go out of their way to do it, even if they don't need or use the eggs. According to the non-Kabbalistic reasoning, this wouldn't be the case.
    – Shalom
    Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 12:15

Medrash Tanchuma says not to do it intentionally.

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There are plenty of Gedolim pictures when they do exactly that: They look for a bird to chase it away and fulfill the mitzva(In general it is almost impossible to do it unintentionally as you actually have to push the bird, and not just scare it)

  • I'm not sure what you mean about doing it unintentionally. And I believe most poskim hold that scaring the bird away is enough.
    – Dave
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 5:38
  • There are many pictures of Gedolim on ladders holding sticks to physically shove the bird without scaring it.
    – Joe Shmoe
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 16:07
  • Actually, from what I understand most people (including the Gedolim in the pictures) use the stick to bang on the branch or nest and scare the bird away. Practically speaking, birds are quite fast and will usually fly away as soon as they sense something coming.
    – Dave
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 17:06
  • These Gedolim might be in error, so the fact that there are plenty of pictures showing them chasing away the mothers doesn't really say anything!
    – Bach
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 1:43

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