Is the mitzva of shiluach haken only if you need the eggs?


5 Answers 5


There is a responsa of the Ben Ish Hai brought in the fourth volume of the set published by Ahavat Shalom, that says it must be for the sake of taking the eggs(or young) on account of Tzarat Ba'alei Haim, as the mother may not return and you would thus be the cause of the starvation of the young.

  • 1
    A source please...
    – user8726
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 17:37

This is a big dispute between halachists who are more rationalist vs. those who are more mystically oriented.

According to 'rationalists', who view it as an act of mercy, if you don't need the eggs / chicks, then it is an act of cruelty, for no reason, so of course you should not chase away the mother bird. Ones who hold like this include Rokeach, Meiri, Rabbenu Bachya, Ran, Rambam, and Tosafot. There are also Acharonim who maintain this.

According to 'mystics', who view it as a deliberate act of cruelty to instigate Divine mercy, then of course one should chase away the mother bird, even if one does not need the eggs. Ones who hold like this follow the rationale for the mitzvah stated in the Zohar, and include Chavot Yair, R' David Luria, R' Chaim Vital, and the Aruch Hashulchan.

These are not complete lists.

But it would seem to indicate a shift, post the promulgation of the Zohar, in how to view the nature of the mitzvah and consequently how one should conduct oneself in the most typical situation, where one does not need the eggs.)

For more information on this, read the essay by Rabbi Natan Slifkin on Shiluach HaKen, the transformation of a mitzvah.


According to the Medrash Tanchuma you shouldn't.

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The Posuk clearly implies it can be done for the birds too, not only for the eggs. In addition as inSeattle answered the requirement is regardless of need or want.

  • Your source is a Mi Yodeya answer with score -2?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 22:27

Where did you see that you needed the eggs was part of the requirement for shiluach haken? Whenever I learned it, the requirement was regardless of need or even want.

  • 2
    Take a look at he pesukim: ספר דברים פרק כב (ו) כִּי יִקָּרֵא קַן צִפּוֹר לְפָנֶיךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּכָל עֵץ אוֹ עַל הָאָרֶץ אֶפְרֹחִים אוֹ בֵיצִים וְהָאֵם רֹבֶצֶת עַל הָאֶפְרֹחִים אוֹ עַל הַבֵּיצִים לֹא תִקַּח הָאֵם עַל הַבָּנִים: (ז) שַׁלֵּחַ תְּשַׁלַּח אֶת הָאֵם וְאֶת הַבָּנִים תִּקַּח לָךְ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ יָמִים:
    – Yahu
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 20:50
  • What do these pasukim mean Rebbi. Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 18:38
  • If a bird's nest happens to be in front of you on the path, in any tree, or on the ground, with chicks or eggs (in it) and the mother (bird) is sitting on the chicks or on the eggs, do not take the mother (bird) from upon the children. You must surely send forth the mother (bird) and you shall take the children for yourself, in order that it will be good for you and you will lengthen your days.
    – Yahu
    Commented Dec 21, 2010 at 19:29
  • cookie monster, I was trying to show inSeattle from where in the pesukim one may come to think that you only send the mother if you need the eggs or chicks. I was validating your question.
    – Yahu
    Commented Dec 21, 2010 at 19:30

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