If you send away the bird, why is Shiluach HaKen called that, meaning "sending the nest", and not "Shiluach Hatzipor", "sending the bird"? The nest is staying in place!

  • Can you please clarify why you think one is better than the other, and translate each accordingly? – jake Nov 16 '11 at 1:13
  • Why would it be hayona? It's not always a yona. Shiluach haem, maybe: that'd be accurate and a paraphrase of the pasuk. – msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 1:20
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    Note that the birds in a nest are collectively called a ken also. (By extension, in mishnayos Kinim, a ken refers to a pair of birds.) I don't know hilchos shiluach haken, but if there's a rule that all adult birds must be sent away (not just the mother), then shiluach haken is a very fitting term. Anyone know whether such is the halacha? – msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 1:27
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    @GershonGold, Thanks. It makes a lot more sense now. – jake Nov 16 '11 at 16:23
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    @msh210 We don't send away the father, per the chachamim in the mishna chulin 12:2. See the peirush mishnayot larambam too. – Double AA Dec 18 '11 at 0:11

I think that the most straightforward answer to this question would be to suggest that, in Rabbinic Hebrew, קן ("nest") is also used metonymically to refer to the bird itself. So, for example, throughout Tractate Kinnim of the Mishna, where kinnim (קנים, "nests") is a way of referring to the birds.

There are numerous examples of rabbinic metonyms. Another would be "house" for "wife". In Shabbat 33b, to give but one example, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's wife is referred to as his "house". Jastrow lists this meaning as the fifth definition of בית. He also lists "birds" as a definition for קן together with its primary definition, the nest that they are in.

  • See comments on the question. – msh210 Jul 10 '12 at 19:31
  • Maybe I don't understand the difference between a Comment and an Answer... I thought that what you wrote up there WAS the answer, so I put it in the Answer box with additional information. The only reason I didn't credit you (should I have?) was because I also knew this independantly. – Shimon bM Jul 10 '12 at 19:58
  • I should have been clearer: See comments on the question, which note that ken means specifically a pair of birds, and that only one bird is sent from the nest in shiluach haken. – msh210 Jul 10 '12 at 20:19

In R' Naftali Weinberger's book of Sefer "Shalai'ach Tishalach, A Practical Guide to the Mitzvah of Shiluach Kakan" (Published by Feldheim 2006) He writes in connection to the strange use and phraseology and says, "In response to this question, some explain that the term שלוח הקן is in fact a contraction of the phrase שילוח האם שמתיר את חקן sending away the mother bird, which permits the removal of [the contents of] the nest. For the sake of brevity and simplicity the Mishnah employs the first and last word of this phrase, resulting in the familiar appellation shiluach hakan." (no source is cited)


see artscroll's introduction to mesechta kinnim found in the gemara along with miela and tamid, it addresses this phraseology at length.

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    Your answer would be much improved if you'd summarize in it what that introduction says about the matter. (Also, which introduction to Kinim? In the Mishna or the 'Bavli'? In the Hebrew edition or the English?) – msh210 May 11 '12 at 17:19
  • Indeed, where is the source that you are quoting? Daf? Page? Etc... – Shmuel Goldstein Sep 15 at 5:00

Shiluach Haken - you are sending the bird away from the Ken - from the nest.

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    But in kidush hayom, nichum avelim, bikur cholim the second word is the patient. – msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 1:41
  • Bu Nichum Aveilim the Mitzva is to be Menachem the Aveil, by Bikur Cholim the Mitzva is to visit the sick, and by Shiluach haKen the Mitzva is to send the bird away from the nest. – Gershon Gold Nov 16 '11 at 16:26
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    Aveil, sick, and bird are all direct objects in those phrases, while nest is the object of an adverbial preposition. The parallels are working against you. – Double AA May 11 '12 at 7:26

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