May 20, 2024
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שַׁלֵּחַ תְּשַׁלַּח אֶת הָאֵם וְאֶת הַבָּנִים תִּקַּח לָךְ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ יָמִים : (דברים כב:ז)

“Send the mother bird away and then you can take her children in order that Hashem will bestow on you goodness and give you a long life.”

Before we begin the dvar Torah, we need to know two halachos:

  1. A person who contracts tzaraas (leprosy) must leave his house and remain outside of the city he lives in (if it is a walled city) until he becomes purified. One of the components of the purification process is that the Kohen takes two pigeons, shechts (slaughters) one of them and sprinkles its blood on the metzora. The second pigeon, the Kohen sends away. After that the metzora is allowed to enter the city but is still not allowed to be alone with his wife. The metzora then waits seven days and goes to the mikvah. According to most Rishonim, he is then allowed to be alone with his wife. There are those who disagree with this and maintain that he has to wait until nightfall.
  2. In our parsha, it is written that if a mother bird is sitting on her hatchlings or even on the eggs, one is not permitted to take the mother bird, he must first send the mother bird away and only then, can he take the hatchlings and eggs.

Now to begin this week’s dvar Torah: It is written in the Mishna in Chullin (142a); it is prohibited to take a mother bird while she is sitting on her hatchlings even if the person needs the mother bird to purify a metzora. From this we can conclude that there is a great reward awaiting a person for any mitzvah performed using the following logic; sending the mother bird away is a very small loss, it is worth only an issur—the equivalent of eight pruttos; which in today’s money is 40 agorot or about 12 American cents; and still it is written in the Torah that the reward for sending the mother bird away is that Hashem will give him happiness, prosperity and long life—all the more so, when a person does a difficult mitzvah which costs more money, there is certainly a great reward.

Zera Shimshon asks: Why does the author of the Mishna make this kal vachomer, specifically from the halacha that a person didn’t take the mother pigeon that was needed to purify a metzora and not from a simple and regular case of shiluach hakan with the exact same logic; if Hashem grants prosperity, happiness and long life by just sending the mother bird away—even though there is only minimal financial loss—all the more so, will a person receive a great reward when he performs an expensive mitzvah. Why did the Tanna teach this lesson specifically from a case where someone sent away a mother pigeon that was needed to purify a metzora?

Zera Shimshon answers that the Tanna is showing us that we don’t realize the true nature and value of the mitzvos; how powerful they really are. From the fact that one doesn’t have to invest a lot of money to perform the mitzvah of shiluach hakan, it would appear that this mitzvah is an insignificant mitzvah. On the other hand, the mitzvah to purify a metzora is a very important mitzvah. Until the metzora is purified, he has to stay out of the city—far away from his wife and family—and, therefore, they cannot have children together, which Chazal define as a “great mitzvah.” It is only through his being purified from the tzaraas can there be a normal family situation. Even so, the seemingly trivial mitzvah of shiluach hakan is so powerful that it overrides this purification process and one is rewarded with prosperity, happiness and long life

If the Tanna of the mishna would have learned the great sechar of mitzvos from a simple case of shiluach hakan a person might wonder; why does Hashem give great reward for doing mitzvos? When a person helps a person in a difficult situation, it is understandable why Hashem gives sechar for this. But so many mitzvos seem trivial, why should Hashem give such a great reward for doing them? Therefore, the Tanna shows that this seemingly insignificant mitzvah of shiluach hakan is so powerful that it even overrides shalom bayis. From this, a person will conclude that it must be that there is much more to mitzvos than meets the eye!

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