Shiluach haken

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Shiluach haken
Columba livia nest 2 eggs.jpg
Halakhic texts relating to this article
Torah: Deuteronomy 22:6
Babylonian Talmud: Chullin 140b
Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Schechita 13
Shulchan Aruch: Yoreh Deah 292

Shiluach haken is the Jewish law derived from the Torah that enjoins one to send away the mother bird before taking her young or her eggs. This only applies to Kosher birds. The Torah promises longevity to someone who performs this commandment.


In Talmudic literature, the requirement to send away the mother bird is a locus classicus for discussion of theodicy. One example of this is in Kiddushin 39b which discusses the problem whether the reward for commandments is in this world or the next. In addition, the Talmud famously records that Elisha ben Abuyah saw a child fall off the ladder while performing this commandment (at the behest of his parents: so, while performing two mitzvot, both of which are notable for their unique promise of a reward of longevity). This irreconcilable lack of theodicy led him away from Judaism. The explanation given in Pirkei Avot, is that the reward may not translate in this world, but rather in Olam Habah, the next world.

Cultural references[edit]

The metaphor of Shiluach haken is used in David Vollach's 2007 movie My Father My Lord, where the main character, Avraham, shoos away a mother bird just before the death of his son Menachem after the mother was "sent away" from the boy.

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