Leaving The Nest

In Ki Tetzei, this week’s Torah portion , we learn about the prohibition of Shiluach haken. There we read:

If a bird nest happens to be before you on the road, on any tree or on the ground- young birds or eggs- and the mother is roosting on the young birds or the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall surely send away the mother and take the young for yourself, so that it will be good for you and will prolong your days.”( Deuteronomy 22:6-7)

It is clear that this practice is one that is meant to inculcate us with compassion. While we understand that we have a need to take the egg or young bird from it’s nest, we want to do that without the mother present. It is hard to read this section without reflecting on the similar prohibition to not boil a kid in its mother’s milk( Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21). They are both seem to rooted in the same desire to create a compassionate context for our consumption. The interesting thing is less the similarities than the differences. In the prohibition of milk and meat the Rabbis expanded it to extend to our plates, cutlery, sinks, dish washers, cutting boards, waiting between meals, ovens, etc. To the best of my knowledge there is no legal expansion of law of Shiluach haken. Why not?

I do not think I have a good answer for this question, but there is one thought I wanted to add. This summer we sent Yadid away to overnight camp for the first time. He had a great time and we are thrilled. I went to pick him up from camp and that got me out of having to take him to the bus to send him to camp. Camping is my profession and because of that I think I might just know too much of what is going on there at camp. Because of this I was really very happy not having to be there as our child went away for the first time. In our nature parents have a profound sense of connection to our children. Separating from them is just hard. So in response to my question, I do not think that the Rabbis needed to expand on the simple meaning of the law of Shiluach haken to help us be more compassionate and relate to the bond between a parent and a child. But I still think that my question is much better than this answer.


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