Chesed Club World Wide Center & Discussion Groups


Mitzvah #74

74. It is a positive commandment to send away the mother bird

This means if one sees a bird's nest while walking and the mother is sitting on her babies or unhatched eggs, if a person wants to take them, he is required to send away the mother bird before taking them, as it states in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 22:7, "Send away, you shall surely send away the mother." Afterwards, "you may take the babies for yourself."

The way to perform this is as follows: hold the mother's wings and make her fly. If a person sent her away and she returns, even numerous times, the person is still required to send the mother away. If she was flying over the nest, if her wings are touching the nest, the person is required to send the mother away. If her wings are not touching the nest, there is no requirement to send her away.

The requirement of sending away the mother bird is only applicable with a pure bird that is not prepared (which means it is found along the road, in every tree or on the land). With baby birds, this applies specifically when they do not know how to fly yet and they need their mother. For eggs, it applies if they are not infertile and rotting. If a person transgresses and takes the mother with her children, he should still fulfill the positive commandment of sending away the mother bird. If he ritually slaughtered the mother or she died before sending her away, making it that the person can no longer fulfill the positive commandment, he has transgressed a negative commandment. Also, if another person takes the mother bird from your hand and sends her away, or if it flew out his hands without his knowledge, he is to be whipped by the Jewish court, because he did not fulfill the positive commandment. If he took the mother bird and clipped her wings so she could not fly and then sent her away, he is to receive Rabbinical whippings by a Jewish court. In this case, he should keep the bird until the wings grow back and then send her away.

This applies in all places and at all times, for men and for women.