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sending away the mother bird and its implications for us

Written by B ROSE

The Torah commands us in the mitzvah called ‘shiluach haken’ that we must send away the mother bird before taking away its eggs. There is a FUNdamental machlokes between the Ramban and the Rambam as to this law, which blew my mind and thus i would like to share it briefly with you. (if you want to look it up, see the Ramban 22;6 – i know it’s long, but ‘good things come to those who wait!’).
What is the reason for sending away the mother bird? The Rambam says it’s so we don’t harm the mother bird – we are avoiding the pain the bird would go through if she were to see her eggs being taken. The Ramban, however, disagrees and says that the reason is not out of care directly for the mother bird, but rather so we improve our personal middos via acting with care for others’ feelings.

The Maharal explains that this machlokes Rambam-Ramban is a fundamental one about the following point in hashkafa: Is the world for me or am I for the world?

Let’s briefly explain… The Rabmbam holds that ‘I am for the world,’ ie my role in life is to perfect the world [that does not need to mean going out and physically fixing stuff; we know that the performance of each mitzvah properly fixes a different part of the world.] The Ramban, however, disagrees, and holds that ‘the world is here for me,’ ie the world is a vehicle for me to fix up my middos and character. And that’s why the Rambam focuses on the bird’s pain, whilst the Ramban stresses the middos effect.

And both outlooks are true, and are indeed not as different as one might assume..

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