As we have learned, the mitzva of shilu’aḥ ha-ken refers to the commandment obligating someone who comes across a nesting bird to send away the mother before taking the eggs or the chicks from the nest. Does this apply to father birds, as well?
The Gemara on today’s daf discusses this question in the context of the disagreement that appears in the Mishna (daf 138b). According to Rabbi Eliezer, a male koreh that is nesting must be sent away, but the Sages rule that there is no obligation to do so.
The koreh is identified as an ammoperdix – a sand partridge – a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae. These birds are commonly found in the land of Israel in the Jordan Valley and the area of the Dead Sea. Since it was readily recognizable to the residents of Israel it was often used as an example in the Talmud. It is unique in that the male bird nests on eggs in the same manner as the mother bird does, leading Rabbi Eliezer to conclude that the mitzva of shilu’aḥ ha-ken should apply to the father, as well. It is interesting to note that the female koreh also has a unique habit inasmuch as it often nests on eggs that do not belong to her.
These unique behaviors lead the amora Rabbi Elazar to make two statements about the disagreement between the tanna Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages that appears in the Mishna.
- The tanna Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages disagree specifically with regard to a male koreh, but with regard to a female koreh, all agree that the mitzva of shilu’aḥ ha-ken would apply, even if the bird was sitting on eggs that are not her own.
- The tanna Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages disagree specifically with regard to a male koreh, but regarding other male birds, all agree that the mitzva of shilu’aḥ ha-ken does not apply.