- Weekly D'var Torah
By Livnat B., Denver JDS 8th Grader
In parshat כי תצא (Ki Teitzei), our text states that when you see a bird’s nest where a mother bird is caring for her eggs or her young, you must wait until the mother has left the nest before taking the young. Maimonides, or the Rambam, explains that this is because it is cruel to take a baby while the mother is there, since animals love their young, and it causes them to suffer when they see their offspring slaughtered. He also explains that this can lead to not taking the eggs or babies at all, because the mitzvah complicates things, and requires you to wait much longer until the mother has gone. Nachmanides, or the Ramban, says that the purpose of this mitzvah is to ensure that the entire species does not go extinct because killing both the mother and the child could lead to extinction. The Ramban also teaches that the mitzvah was not written because G-d pities the animals, but so that humans learn compassion and mercy, and they become accustomed to doing the kind thing.
I believe that the deeper meaning of this law is that we should never force people to see others suffer. I think another important lesson that can be learned from this is never to cause unnecessary pain. This law states that it is permissible to take young birds. This is already causing pain for the mother and her offspring. However, it is forbidden to cause the unneeded pain of forcing the mother to see her offspring stolen.
One example of an occasion where we should use this law is when fighting with our siblings. Let’s say your sibling takes something of yours and hides it. Before you think about getting revenge on them, think of a way to solve the problem that will not cause your parents the pain of seeing their children fighting, but will show your sibling that they can’t take your belongings. Additionally, you should let it go eventually. You shouldn’t hold a grudge against them for a long time, since this is just causing unnecessary pain for them.
In conclusion, I believe that the most important lessons we can learn from this rule are not to force people to see others in pain, and to avoid causing unnecessary pain.