THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question about the Daf
CHULIN 137-140 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dapim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
1) LEAVING "PE'AH" FROM WHEAT ON BEHALF OF TREES
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah in Pe'ah (3:5) that discusses a case
in which the owner of a wheat field sells the trees in his field and keeps
the field for himself. Rebbi Yehudah maintains that if the sale was
conducted after the owner started to reap the wheat of the field, then the
seller must leave Pe'ah on behalf of all of the trees in the field, even
those that were sold.
2) EXEMPTING ONESELF FROM AN OBLIGATION TO GIVE "MATNOS KEHUNAH"
RASHI (DH Aval and DH v'Hu) explains that the seller "leaves Pe'ah for the
poor from the wheat that he harvests, and exempts all the trees" from Pe'ah.
Rashi adds that when the owner sells *all* of the trees in his field "the
Pe'ah left from the wheat does not exempt the trees from Pe'ah."
Rashi seems to understand that Pe'ah of one type of crop cannot exempt
another type. His source is the Gemara's statement that from the time one
begins "to reap" ("Liktzor") -- which refers to cutting *wheat* -- he is
required to leave a separate Pe'ah for the *trees*.
However, the Mishnah in Pe'ah seems to contradict Rashi's words. The Mishnah
there (2:5) teaches that when one sows the seeds of two different crops in
his field and harvests them together, he must leave two separate groups of
Pe'ah, one for each crop! (PRI CHADASH in MAYIM CHAYIM; RASHASH)
(a) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH explains that there is a difference between a field
that is sown equally with two different crops, and a wheat field that
happens to have a few trees growing in it. When there happen to be trees
growing in a wheat field, one may leave Pe'ah from the main crop for both
types of produce growing in the field. (See DERECH EMUNAH 3:89 of RAV CHAIM
(b) The RASH (Pe'ah 3:5) understands the Mishnah in Pe'ah differently from
Rashi. The Rash asks why one is obligated to leave Pe'ah for the *trees*
from the time that he begins to harvest the *wheat*. Instead of proposing,
as Rashi does, that Pe'ah may be left from wheat on behalf of trees, he
suggests simply that once the owner of the field begins to harvest his
wheat, the obligation to leave Pe'ah from the trees takes effect as well.
Harvesting the main crop of the field is considered to be the beginning of
the harvest for all of the crops of the field, even the secondary ones. (It
is possible that this is also the intention of Rashi.)
QUESTION: The Mishnah (135a) states that when one sells some of the wool of
his sheep and keeps some for himself, the seller is obligated to give
Reishis ha'Gez (for all of the wool) to the Kohen. When he sells all of the
wool, however, the buyer is obligated to give Reishis ha'Gez.
Rava explains the logic of this Halachah as follows. When one sells the wool
of his sheep to his friend, the sale should actually remove from the seller
the obligation to separate Reishis ha'Gez. This is because the seller is no
longer the owner of the wool at the time that the wool is sheared from the
sheep. However, the buyer also is not obligated, since the Torah only
obligates one to give Reishis ha'Gez when he is the owner of the sheep. In
this case, the buyer of the wool does not own the sheep. Therefore, since it
would be wrong to remove the obligation of giving Reishis ha'Gez, we assume
that the seller, at the time of the sale, does not have in mind to remove
from himself the obligation of Reishis ha'Gez. Consequently, when he is left
with his own wool, the buyer may say to him, "Since you did not specifically
state that this wool is exempt from Reishis ha'Gez, you must have intended
to give the Matnos Kehunah from the wool that remains with you."
When the seller sells all of his wool and keeps none for himself, the buyer
must give Reishis ha'Gez from the wool, because we assume that even though
the seller did not explicitly say so, he included the Kohen's share of wool
in the sale.
The Gemara proves from the Halachah of Keivah that a person does not
intentionally attempt to exempt himself from giving Matnos Kehunah. The
Mishnah (132a) teaches that when one sells the innards (including the
Keivah) of a cow, we assume that the seller did not intend to sell the
Keivah, since he is obligated to give it to a Kohen. Only when one sells the
innards by weight do we assume that he included the Keivah in the sale, and
the buyer must give the Keivah to a Kohen (and be reimbursed for its value).
We assume that the seller did not intend to steal the Matanos, and thus he
must reimburse the buyer when the buyer gives the Keivah to a Kohen.
However, there seems to be a logical problem with Rava's explanation. If it
is wrong to exempt oneself from an obligation to give Matnos Kehunah, and
thus we assume that one does not intend to exempt himself, then how did the
owner of the sheep sell the sheep in the first place? The obligation to give
Reishis ha'Gez is removed at the time of the sale, as we explained. The
reason why the seller must give the Matanos is because we assume that he had
intention to give the Matanos from the wool that remains in his possession
(or, when he sells all of his wool, to discount the price of the sale in the
value of the Reishis ha'Gez that the buyer will have to give). Although this
act is commendable, the fact is that the obligation to give Reishis ha'Gez
was removed by selling the wool! (RIMON PERETZ)
ANSWER: The RIMON PERETZ writes that we see from the Gemara here that the
problem with exempting oneself from the obligation to give Matnos Kehunah is
not that one has caused a Mitzvah to be cancelled. Rather, the problem is
that one is causing a loss to the Kohen. Accordingly, when the owner intends
on reimbursing the Kohen by giving him the wool even without being obligated
to do so, there is nothing wrong with this.
(This explanation, however, is problematic, because the Gemara's proof from
the Halachah of Keivah is still difficult to understand. In the case of the
Keivah, one who sells the Keivah with the innards is committing an outright
act of Geneivah from the Kohanim. This is because the obligation to give the
Keivah takes effect at the time of the Shechitah, and thus the seller was
already obligated to give it before the sale. Accordingly, we must assume
that he did not intend to include the Keivah in the sale (in order for the
sale not to be an act of Geneivah from the Kohanim). In contrast, one who
sells the wool of his animals while it is still attached to them is not
committing an act of Geneivah (although he might be doing something
improper), because the obligation does not start until the wool is sheared.
Therefore, we cannot prove from the case of selling the innards of an animal
(where one certainly does not include the Keivah in the sale) that when one
sells some of the wool of his animals, he does not intend to include the
Reishis ha'Gez in the sale.) (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
3) THE MEANING OF THE WORDS "SHILU'ACH HA'KEN"
QUESTION: The Mishnah begins a new chapter discussing the laws of Shilu'ach
ha'Ken. This Mishnah is the first occasion of the use of this term,
"Shilu'ach ha'Ken," commonly translated as "the sending away of the mother
bird." The Torah does not use this term.
4) REASONS BEHIND THE MITZVAH OF "SHILU'ACH HA'KEN"
However, the word "Ken" means the nest or its contents (the eggs or chicks),
not the mother bird, as RASHI in Bava Metzia (102a), RABEINU YEHONASAN
(Chulin 141b), and others write. However, the "Shilu'ach" -- sending away --
must be done to the mother bird, and not its nest or the contents of its
Why, then, is the mitzvah referred to as "Shilu'ach ha'Ken," and not
ANSWER: The Mefarshim on the Torah explain that "Shilu'ach ha'Kan" means
"sending away the mother bird in order to permit taking the contents of the
RAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY shlit'a, in response to a question of Rabbi Naftali
Weinberger (author of SHALE'ACH TESHALACH on the laws and meanings of
Shilu'ach ha'Ken), explained what the proper text of the blessing (said
without the name of Hashem) is when performing the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach
ha'Ken. It should be the terminology used by the Chachamaim -- "l'Shale'ach
ha'Ken," and not, "l'Shale'ach Min ha'Ken."
OPINIONS: The Mishnah begins a new chapter discussing the laws of Shilu'ach
ha'Ken. The Mishnah in Berachos (33b) teaches that one who says, "Hashem's
mercy reaches the mother bird," must be silenced. The Gemara there explains
(in its second reason) that this is because the Mitzvos are purely Gezeiros,
"heavenly decrees upon us to fulfill," and they are not given to us as
expressions of Hashem's mercy.
5) AGADAH: INCULCATING THE TRAIT OF KINDNESS BY PERFORMING AN ACT OF CRUELTY
How can it be that there are no reasons behind the Mitzvos? Rebbi Shimon
explicitly states (see Yevamos 23a and elsewhere) that all of the Mitzvos
have reasons behind them! (See Insights to Berachos 33:3.)
While the RAMBAM in Moreh Nevuchim (3:26, 3:48) explains that this opinion
indeed argues with Rebbi Shimon and maintains that there are no reasons for
the Mitzvos, in the end of Hilchos Temurah the Rambam writes that although
we are obligated to blindly perform Mitzvos that have no apparent reason, it
is nevertheless praiseworthy to offer appropriate explanations for the
However, the RASHBA (Teshuvos 1:94), in a response to someone who offered an
explanation for the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken, writes that he is doubtful
that anyone living in his generation is able to offer a valid reason for
this Mitzvah, as it contains many hidden elements of the Torah. The Rashba
concludes that during the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, which served as a
gathering place for prophets and scholars, the rationale for the Mitzvos was
readily and reliably accessible. However, now that we are in exile, the
gates of knowledge have been locked and thus all Mitzvos should be performed
regardless of whether or not we have the ability to comprehend the reasons
In a similar vein, the MAHARSHA in Berachos (33b) writes that although one
may ponder the reasons behind the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken, during its
actual performance he should have in mind that he is performing the mitzvah
as one performs all other Chukim -- exclusively because it was commanded by
Hashem. It is apparent that the Maharsha maintains that applying our own
logic to Chukim may corrupt the manner in which the Mitzvah is performed.
Support for the Maharsha's opinion can be found in the Gemara in Sanhedrin
(21b) which states that Shlomo ha'Mamelech's justification for violating a
Mitzvah in the Torah by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh was that he thought
he understood the motivation behind the prohibition. This incident teaches
us that we must use caution in applying our own logic in determining the
reasons for the Mitzvos.
Following the Rambam's approach, a number of Rishonim and Acharonim suggest
various reasons for the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken. (The following
discussion is based on Rabbi Naftali Weinberger's book, SEFER SHALE'ACH
TESHALACH, a comprehensive treatise covering the laws and meanings of the
Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken.)
(a) The RAMBAN (Devarim 22:6) explains that when the Gemara says that the
reason behind the Mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is not in order to
have mercy, it means that it is not Hashem's intent to have mercy *on the
bird*. Rather, it is a "Gezeirah" (a decree upon *us*, for our benefit) in
order to accustom us to be merciful and inculcate in us that trait. One who
is accustomed to being cruel to beasts, becomes cruel by nature in general,
even to people. This is also the approach of the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#545),
ME'IRI (Berachos 33b), IBN EZRA, CHIZKUNI, and others.
(b) RABEINU BACHYE (Devarim 22:7), the SEFER HA'CHINUCH, and the RALBAG
explain that while the Torah permits the consumption and utilization of
birds, nevertheless their complete extinction is prohibited. Permissibility
to take the mother and her offspring simultaneously would be tantamount to
the destruction of the nest, which consequently could be viewed as a step,
albeit a small one, toward the destruction of the whole species. Therefore
the Torah requires that the mother first be sent away and only then may her
offspring be taken.
By observing the Mitzvos and doing the will of Hashem, Hashem will watch
over us and protect us as well, granting us long life in this world and
everlasting life in the world to come.
(c) The RAMBAM in Moreh Nevuchim compares the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken
with the Isur of "Oso v'Es Beno" (Vayikra 22:28), which forbids slaughtering
an animal and her offspring on the same day. The Rambam explains that both
of these Mitzvos show that animals have feelings towards their young, and
those feelings must be respected. Maternal compassion is not a logical
emotion, but rather an inborn, instinctive one. Consequently, if the
offspring is taken while the mother is present, the mother naturally will
suffer pain and anguish. The Torah therefore instructs us to demonstrate
compassion by first sending the mother away before taking the eggs, thereby
sparing her the anguish of seeing her offspring being taken.
This explanation of the Rambam seems to contradict the Mishnah in Berachos
that says that we silence one who says that Shilu'ach ha'Ken is done for
reasons of compassion. The Rishonim and Acharonim explain that the Rambam
understands the Mishnah to be prohibiting only saying the words, "Al Kan
Tzipor Yagi'a Rachamecha," as a *prayer*, since doing so would appear as
though this reason is the only one, while in fact there could be many others
explanations for the Mitzvah. However, offering the rationale of compassion
within the guidelines of analysis of the Mitzvah is surely permissible.
(d) One opinion in the Yerushalmi (quoted in KOL ELIYAHU #17; see Yerushalmi
Berachos 5:3, "*Ad* Kan Tzipor...") asserts that the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach
ha'Ken was not given as an expression of mercy for the mother bird, but, on
the contrary, it was given as an act of cruelty! The mother bird certainly
experiences pain when sent away from her hatchlings.
This is also the approach of the Zohar, as quoted by RABEINU BACHYE and
TESHUVOS CHACHAM TZVI (#86). The Zohar says that when the mother bird cries
for her hatchlings, it arouses Hashem's mercy for his own children, the
Jewish people. (See the following Insight for an elucidation of the words of
(e) The ABARBANEL explains that the Torah prohibits destroying objects that
bear fruit. It is forbidden to cut down a fruit-bearing tree (Devarim 20:7).
Nevertheless, it is permitted to eat the fruit of a tree. Similarly, one is
permitted to consume a bird's offspring. However, one is required to avoid
harming the source of the offspring -- the mother bird, and enable her to
build another nest in which to produce additional offspring.
(f) The CHASAM SOFER (Chulin 139b) explains that according to the Rambam
(Hilchos Shechitah 3:7) the reason for this Mitzvah is to ensure that a
level of moral justice is maintained. When a mother bird stays behind to
protect its young from a hunter, it is not morally condonable that it should
suffer harm as a result. Therefore, the hunter is not allowed to take
advantage of the mother's love for its young and capture the mother, but
rather he must send it away.
Similarly, the AVNEI NEZER explains that the reason why human beings are
permitted to kill animals is because Hashem created humans with intellect,
making them superior to animals. However, in the case of a mother bird, we
see a display of human-like emotions as it shows concern for its offspring
as a human does. In this respect, therefore, humans are not superior to
animals; permission to kill the animal animals is suspended when the animal
displays human intellect. That is why a person must send the bird away.
(g) Although many Rishonim and Acharonim offer various explanations for the
Mitzvah, they nevertheless concede that Shilu'ach ha'Ken, like all other
Mitzvos, incorporates many hidden parts of the Torah, thereby rendering a
comprehensive understanding of it impossible. For example, the BA'AL
HA'AKEIDAH and Abarbanel both mention that the mother bird symbolizes the
The Ramban (loc. cit.) quotes the SEFER HAKANAH (a very early work
discussing the concept of hidden aspects of Torah, written by the Tana,
Rebbi Nechunya ben Hakanah), which also states that many secrets of the
Torah are incorporated in this Mitzvah. He writes, for example, that even
the Mitzvah of Sukah is inherent in the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken. Rebbi
Nechunya ben Hakanah writes that since the reward attributed to this Mitzvah
is so great, it must be that the performance of Shilu'ach ha'Ken touches
upon many other Mitzvos as well.
QUESTION: The Rishonim and Acharonim suggest a number of reasons for the
Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken (as we discussed in the previous Insight). The
Zohar (cited by RABEINU BACHYE to Devarim 22:7 and TESHUVOS CHACHAM TZVI
#86) says that the act is done as an expression of *cruelty*, in order to
arouse Hashem's mercy for His people. In what way does this act arouse
6) SENDING AWAY A BIRD THAT KILLED A PERSON
ANSWER: RABBI NAFTALI WEINBERGER, in SEFER SHALE'ACH TESHALACH, elucidates
the words of the Zohar. He writes as follows.
The Zohar states (loosely translated), "When a person sends the mother from
her nest, the mother is so grief stricken that she wants to drown herself in
the ocean. During her flight, she yearns to be with her children again. She
cries so hard that the angel designated by Hashem to represent the birds
asks Hashem: Does it not say that 'His compassion is on all of His creations
(Tehilim 145:9)'? Why did you command man to send the mother away from her
"Upon hearing the angel's supplication, Hashem gathers all of the other
angels and addresses them as follows: This angel is concerned for the
welfare of a bird and is complaining of its suffering. Why are you not also
complaining about the suffering of My chosen nation, the Jewish people? Why
are you not distressed by the fact that the Shechinah, which had its place
of dwelling in the Beis ha'Mikdash, has also been sent away and exiled from
its place? And why are you not petitioning Me, as is the bird's angel, on
behalf of My children, the Jewish people, who are being neglected and abused
by the pagan nations?
"Hashem then directs his compassion towards Klal Yisrael and immediately
decrees beneficial experiences for his nation, especially for the
downtrodden and poor. He then forgives his children for many of their sins
"Hashem then proclaims to His heavenly gathering: 'Praiseworthy is the
person who fulfills the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken, for he causes kindness
to descend upon the world.' As the benefactors of Hashem's compassion, the
Jewish nation renews its yearning for the redemption and thus hastens the
arrival of Mashi'ach."
(Based on the words of the Zohar, the CHAVOS YA'IR writes that since the
performance of Shilu'ach ha'Ken causes a profound kindness to descend upon
the world and hastens the coming of Mashi'ach, when a person sees a nest he
is *obligated* to send the mother away even if he has no need for the
offspring; see Insights to Chulin 139b.)
The VILNA GA'ON (in his commentary to Mishlei 30:17, and in Imrei No'am to
Berachos 33b) discusses the Zohar at length. He concurs with the Zohar that
there is no Mitzvah in the entire Torah that seems to comprise an act as
heartless as that of Shilu'ach ha'Ken, and yet the Torah bestows upon the
one who performs this Mitzvah the blessing of a good, long life! The Vilna
Ga'on points out that a reward of long life is promised in only two
instances: Kibud Av va'Em, and Shilu'ach ha'Ken. The Vilna Ga'on asks why
these two Mitzvos have the identical reward, when they seem to involve
opposite traits. Honoring parents is an act of true kindness and love, while
Shilu'ach ha'Ken is an act seemingly void of any compassion! Why should
these two Mitzvos warrant the same reward?
The Vilna Ga'on explains that, in fact, these two Mitzvos complement each
other, because they address the character trait that can be found in
different types of people. There are people who are instinctively inclined
to perform kindness, for whom honoring parents is a natural instinct. Those
people would likely find it difficult to perform an act that seems so cruel,
like Shilu'ach ha'Ken. Conversely, there are people who do not naturally
possess the characteristic of kindness. For them, the Mitzvah of Kibud Av
va'Em may be difficult to perform, while they may perform Shilu'ach ha'Ken
without hesitation. Since the Mitzvos were given equally to all men,
regardless of their individual dispositions, the Torah promises the same
reward for the Mitzvos of Kibud Av va'Em and Shilu'ach ha'Ken. The Torah is
teaching us that our performance of the Mitzvos should not be based on our
personal feelings toward the Mitzvah, but rather on the fact that Hashem
commanded us to do it. We are rewarded for obeying Hashem, and not for
acting in accordance with our logic and personal inclinations. Accordingly,
we can understand why the Mitzvah of Kibud Av va'Em and Shilu'ach ha'Ken
have the same reward. They share a common purpose: to demonstrate a
steadfast adherence to carrying out the will of Hashem.
The Vilna Ga'on uses this principle to shed light on a difficult verse.
After the Akeidas Yitzchak, Hashem tells Avraham Avinu, "For now I know that
you are G-d-fearing" (Bereishis 22:12). The Akeidas Yitzchak was the last of
the ten trials with which Hashem tested Avraham's faith. The words, "Now I
know," imply that prior to the Akeidah, Avraham had not proven himself to be
G-d-fearing. Why, though, is it that only after the Akeidah that Hashem
becomes convinced that Avraham is G-d-fearing? Were the first nine trials
not indicative of Avraham's Yir'as Shamayim?
The Vilna Ga'on explains that Avraham was the quintessential Ba'al Chesed.
He was innately loving and compassionate to all people, as evidenced by the
way he honored his guests with his fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Hachnasas
Orchim. Hashem designed the last of the trials to be the ultimate test of
Avraham's Yir'as Shamayim; it would be a test that would directly oppose
Avraham's essence. He commanded Avraham to commit the supreme act of
heartlessness and cruelty -- to sacrifice his only son. Without hesitation,
Avraham Avinu proceeded to carry out the will of Hashem in an act that
contradicted the fundamental nature of his being. It was at that moment that
Hashem saw that Avraham was a true Yerei Elokim, as Avraham proved that his
fulfillment of Hashem's will was not predicated on his own natural
inclinations but rather on his absolute adherence to the word of Hashem.
The Vilna Ga'on explains that according to the Zohar, when the Mishnah in
Berachos (33b) requires us to silence one who says that Shilu'ach ha'Ken is
done for reasons of compassion, it means that we silence him because he is
mistaken; the act of sending the mother away in fact causes anguish and
pain. We are commanded to perform this Mitzvah in order to elicit Hashem's
compassion. (See also YE'AROS DEVASH, Derash 6, where RAV YONASAN EIBSHITZ
explains the reasons for many Halachos based on the Zohar.)
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that there is no Mitzvah to send away a mother
bird that must be given to someone specific, such as a bird of Hekdesh that
must be given to the treasurer of Hekdesh. Ravina adds that, similarly,
there is no obligation to send away a Kosher bird that killed a person,
since the bird must be brought to Beis Din. RASHI (DH she'Harag) explains
that Ravina is referring to a case in which the bird fled to the wild
("Marad") after the killing.
There are two problems with the words of Rashi.
(a) Rashi implies that the bird was a privately-owned bird when it killed,
and then it ran away to the wild. Why does Rashi not explain simply that
Ravina is discussing a bird of the wild that killed a person? It is not
necessary to explain that a domestic bird killed a person and then fled to
the wild. We know that even a wild animal that killed a person must be put
to death, as the RAMBAM (Hilchos Nizkei Mamon 10:6) writes! (MINCHAS CHINUCH
(b) If the bird that killed was privately-owned and later ran away to the
wild, why does the Gemara later (139a) struggle to find a case of a bird of
Hekdesh that is exempt from Shilu'ach ha'Ken? The Gemara should answer
simply that the bird belonged to Hekdesh and then fled to the wild!
(a) Rashi here is following the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah (and the Stam
Mishnah) in Bava Kama (44b), who maintains that an animal that has no owner
is *not* put to death by Beis Din for killing a person. The Rambam is rules
according to the Rabanan, who argue with Rebbi Yehudah (Bava Kama 44b).
(b) Since Hekdesh is a form of ownership, the Gemara assumed that an animal
of Hekdesh that runs away becomes free of the ownership of Hekdesh (as Rav
indeed asserts at the conclusion of the Sugya). It cannot be compared to an
animal that killed, because such an animal must be put to death even if it
later becomes ownerless.