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I'm learning Chulin 140b and I am having some difficulty understanding R' Hoshia's question near the top of the page.

הושיט ידו לקן ושחט מיעוט סימנים מהו מי אמרינן כיון דאילו שביק להו מטרפי בעינן לך ולא לכלביך או דלמא כיון דבידו למגמר שחיטה ותקח לך קרינא ביה וחייב בשילוח תיקו

At first I thought I understood this question. If someone reaches into a nest and begins the process of slaughtering one of the chicks, do we have to send away the mother bird? On one hand, since the slaughter was not completed in the nest, the baby bird could sort of be considered like a טרפה at the time it was removed and therefore there would be no obligation of sending away the mother bird. On the other hand, since the person can complete the slaughter and the bird will be kosher perhaps sending away the mother bird would be required.

But Rash"i's comment confuses me.

מהו לחייבו בשלוח האם כיון שבידו לגמור את השחיטה תקח לך קרינא ביה וחייב לשלח או דילמא השתא מיהת כל זמן שלא גמר בהם סימנים פטור מלשלח ונוטל את האם בהיתר ואח"כ גומר שחיטה

He says in the case where we begin the slaughter in the nest that the person is "exempt from 'sending' and may take the mother bird and afterwards complete the slaughter [of the chick]."

I don't understand what Rash"i is talking about here. What does he mean when he says that the person may "take the mother"? Doesn't he mean that he may take the chick?

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It's exactly as you explained. The situation is that the person started cutting, but since he only manged to cut "מיעוט סימנים" - they aren't kosher yet (only if he continues to cut until "רוב סימנים").

So does he need to send away the mother, or can he take her for himself? Two ways of thinking of this:

  1. If he stops cutting and let the chicks be, they will become "טריפה", and in this case the person is exempt from the obligation of sending away the mother (therefore, he is allowed to take her if she arrives. He's not obligated to send her away).
  2. He has the ability to continue cutting and make them kosher, so they are considered kosher, and therefore there's an obligation of sending away the mother (and he may not take her for himself).

This is exactly what Rashi says.

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  • Why would it become a Tereifa? – Double AA Feb 14 '16 at 21:07
  • @DoubleAA By definition. For example, from Wikipedia: A member of a kosher species of mammal or bird, disqualified from being considered kosher, due to pre-existing mortal injuries or physical defects. – Cauthon Feb 14 '16 at 21:10
  • I thought a hole in the trachea isn't a treifa in birds. The definition is specific defects only. – Double AA Feb 14 '16 at 22:23
  • @DoubleAA I admit I'm no expert in this area, but the idea here is that the person started cutting, but didn't get to the point where it becomes kosher. However, he cut enough so that if he leaves the chick be - the chick will be considered treifa (according to the first view: "דאילו שביק להו מטרפי"). – Cauthon Feb 14 '16 at 22:27
  • I just don't get why it would become a tereifa if he left it, as I asked above... – Double AA Feb 14 '16 at 23:00

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