May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h, and Meira Chaya Nechama Beracha, a”h, bat Reb David Mordechai Fishel, sheyichye.
This week we learned Chullin 139. These are some highlights.
Should a person look for a nest in order to send away the mother bird and fulfill the mitzvah of shiluach haken?
There is a contradiction between the holy Zohar and our Gemara about the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird and then taking the eggs or chicks.
Our Gemara quotes a Baraita that explicitly states that one is not to look for a bird and nest in order to fulfill shiluach haken. The Baraita taught, “It is written (Devarim 22:6) ‘Ki yikarei kan tzipor lefanecha, when a bird nest will be found before you.’ Why did the Torah use the phrase ‘ki yikarei?’ You might have thought that since it is written ‘shalei’ach teshalach et ha’aim, you are to surely send away the mother,’ that a person should search in the mountains and hills for a bird and nest and fulfill this mitzvah. This is why the verse stressed ‘ki yikarei’ to tell you that you are only obligated to fulfill this mitzvah when you happen to find a nest on your path; however, you are not obligated to seek out a bird or nest.”
The Zohar (Tikkun 6 23a) teaches that when one sends away the mother bird and the bird cries for her young, it arouses Heavenly mercy. Hashem’s Shechinah is our mother. The cries of a mother bird for her young arouse the Divine to seek out His young, His children, the Jewish nation. Hashem then restores His presence to the Jewish nation and redemption results. Birkei Yosef (Yoreh Dei’ah 232:8) writes that the Ari Hakadosh writes that we are to try hard to fulfill this mitzvah. The directives of the masters of Kabbalah, the Ari and Rashbi, seem to conflict with the guidance from our Gemara. What is the correct way? Should one look for a nest or should one not look for a nest?
Shu”t Torah Lishmah (Siman 277) rules that one who seeks out this mitzvah by searching in the mountains and forests for a nest is violating the directives of the Gemara. Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Dei’ah Siman 292) rules that while we are not obligated to seek out the nests, if one happens to find a nest it is a great mitzvah and achievement to perform the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird.
Teshuvot V’hanhagot (Cheilek Gimel Siman 329) suggests two resolutions to the contradiction. One: perhaps there is a difference between tzadikim and regular Jews. Tzadikim constantly fulfill the will of Hashem and give Him pleasure. Their actions unite the Divine back with His people. The Zohar addresses the tzadikim. The tzadikim devote their minds to the correct intentions; therefore they are encouraged to seek out this mitzvah. Our Gemara is teaching the law for us. As regular individuals we usually do not have the correct intentions. Our actions have driven a wedge between Hashem and His children. We who have caused the Divine presence to leave are not to go out of our way to find nests. We are to first repent. Only if Hashem places a nest before us are we to fulfill the mitzvah of shiluach haken. Two: the Zohar is loyal to the position of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, its author. Rabbi Shimon is of the opinion that the reason for a mitzvah is to be included in the definition and laws of the mitzvah, darshinan ta’ama dikra. The reason for this mitzvah is profound. For this reason one should go out of his way to fulfill it. Our Gemara, however, follows the normative law, which is to ignore the reasons and only seek to follow the literal meaning of the verse; since the literal meaning of “ki yikarei” implies that one happened to find and not that one sought it out, we are not to seek out a nest. (Mesivta)
By Rabbi Zev Reichman
Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.