Thursday, February 06, 2014


Send the Mother Away


Send the Mother Away

by Gutman Locks


     This may be a first in the entire world! There is an interesting mitzvah in the Torah that tells us if we come upon a bird’s nest with the mother and eggs (or young birds) that we should not take the mother bird, but send her away, and if we want, then we can take the eggs.

    There is no reason given for this mitzvah, but there is great ecological wisdom taught here. We know that the mother can produce, but we do not know that about the eggs (or young birds). So, if we are going to take something, then, by taking the unknown producers and sending away the mother who certainly does produce, we are assuring the future reproduction of the species. This also fits with the reward we are promised by fulfilling this mitzvah. The Torah tells us that by doing this mitzvah we are ensuring ourselves long lives.

     Now to the story; a couple of days ago I walked into my bedroom, and for the first time in my life, I saw a visitor sitting on my bed! A dove had flown in through the open window and was sitting on my pillow. I gently walked into the room. The bird panicked. She tried to fly out through the large window, but the side she tried to fly through was closed. Bang! She went back onto my bed. I slowly walked over and opened that side of the window and moved out of the way. The bird flew out.

     I wondered, “Why did Hashem have that bird fly into my bedroom?” I looked down and said, “Oh my G-d!” sitting there was a small egg. I picked it up and smiled. “Even though I didn’t know it, I may have done a beautiful mitzvah.”

     I put the egg back to the side and left the window open for a few days, but the mother bird never came back to sit on her egg.

     So now I have an egg on the table right by my Shabbos candles as a reminder of this mitzvah that G-d sent to me in my bedroom.

     I would really be surprised if anyone else in the world has ever done the mitzvah of “sending away the mother bird” in their bedroom.


   (Note: There is disagreement among the rabbis; if a Jew does a mitzvah without awareness, if it is considered to be a mitzvah.)



  1. R Gutman, i always enjoy reading your views and teachings. thanks so much. this happening of sending the mother bird away, has made my day.

  2. Very nice post! Of course, as well as having ecological wisdom, this mitzvah encourages us to be compassionate toward the bird's maternal feelings. It would be much harder for the bird to witness the egg being taken away -- if we are going to take the eggs, it is better to make the mother go away first, so she doesn't have to see it.

    Unfortunately in my view, some people think this mitzvah should be done even if we have no desire for or need for the eggs. In that case, taking the eggs is simply killing a potential life and causing stress to the mother bird, for no purpose other than the mitzvah. This violates the underlying compassion-based purpose of the mitzvah. Mitzvos should make us more sensitive to other beings' feelings, not less.


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