Why is the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird before taking the young called שילוח הקן (Shiluach haken; "sending the nest")? It's not the nest you send away; it's the mother bird. I would have called the mitzvah something like שילוח הציפור (sending the bird) since that's what one does. Alternatively, שילוח האם (sending the mother) matches the language from the Torah: "שַׁלֵּחַ תְּשַׁלַּח אֶת-הָאֵם".

So why is the mitzvah called shiluach haken?


R. Yeruham Fischel Perla (Negative commandments, §137) explains that since it is forbidden to take any of the birds until the mother is sent away the term "שילוח הקן" implies sending [of the mother permitting] the nest. As he writes:

והיינו דקרי למצוה זו שילוח הקן. כלומר שילוח שמתיר את הקן.

Or, "nest" can refer to the eggs (cf. Rashi BM 102a, s.v. קרי) hence the translation could be: sending [of the mother permitting] the eggs.

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