Pisqa’ 228

Pisqa’ 2281


“You must definitely send away the dam” (Dt.22:7)—

This is a prescriptive commandment.

If he sent her away and she returned,

and he sent her away and she returned

–even five times—

is he still under obligation to send her away? 2

As it is said:.

“You must definitely send away the dam” (Dt.22:7).


Ducks or chickens that got loose

and nested in an orchard—

one is under obligation to send the dam away.

If the birds are nesting in the house—

he need not send the dam away.


“The fledglings or the eggs” (Dt.22:6)—

fledglings are useful as food.

Therefore we exclude from the rule

dead fledglings, which are useless.


Similarly, eggs are useful as food.

Therefore we exclude from the rule

abnormal eggs, which are useless.


The minimum number intended

by the plural, fledglings, is two.

and the minimum of eggs is two.3

Even if there is but one fledgling or one egg,

he is obliged to send off the dam.


Another word:

“If you happen across a bird’s nest” (Dt.22:6)—

any place.


In the path, in any tree, or upon the ground” (Dt.22:6)—

just as the term, in the path,

implies that the birds are free-ranging,

we exclude from the rule

birds that are tied together,

for they obviously have limited range.


Another word:

“You must definitely send away the dam” (Dt.22:7)—

the verse discusses a clean bird.

Or, [perhaps,] is it also

[discussing] an unclean bird?

The Teaching states:

“Every clean bird shall you eat” (Dt.14:11).


This permits us to recognize

a family resemblance among scriptural verses,4

Thus, wherever the term, “bird,” is used

[as in Dt.22:7, where “dam” appears],

the verse is referring to the clean bird

[indicated at Dt.14:11]—

as in the words of R. Josiah.


Indeed, if he sent her away and returned to his journey,

he is under no obligation to repeatedly send her away.


“You must definitely send away the dam” (Dt.22:7)—

The verse is discussing females, not males.5


Regarding the male partridge,

R. Eliezer holds that he is under the rule

[and must be sent off before taking the young],

for it is said:

“You must definitely send away the dam”—

[That is, any bird functioning as the dam].

But sages release him from obligation,

as it is said:

“The dam” (Dt.22:7)—

but not a male partridge.6            


One who takes the dam from the young—

R. Judah says:

He receives a judicial beating

[for violating the proscription of sending off the dam],

yet needn’t then send off the dam.

But sages say:

He must send off the dam,

yet does not receive a judicial beating.

{This is the general principle:

Any proscriptive commandment

which entails getting up and acting—

they do not administer stripes to the transgressor. 7

A person must not take the dam from the young

even to cleanse a victim of Scale-disease.

Now, if, regarding a simple commandment—

costing at most an issar8

the Torah promises:

“So that you should be well, and extend your days” (Dt.22:7),

shouldn’t it follow that the same promise applies

to any of the Torah’s more arduous commandments?}9

  1. H:237-238; JN2:139.
  2. Cf. M. Hul.12:3.
  3. Cf. Pisqa’ 227.2.
  4. Heb: binyan ‘ av. A hermeneutical principle whereby usage of a word in a primary context clarifies secondary usages.
  5. The material of 228.2-3 appears to be a condensed reprise of 227.2-4, It is not well-attested in mss and early editions. See F:260, n.3, RH who includes the text in parentheses, and Pardo, ad loc.
  6. //M. Hul. 12:2.
  7. = M. Hul.12:4.
  8. Usually evaluated at 1/24 of a dinar (Roman denarius).
  9. =M. Hul. 12:5.The bracketed material has been restored to the citation of the M. Hul. 12:5. RH’s citation of the Mishnah differs somewhat, making the same point. See F:260, l.12.