The following was one of the items in a women’s e-mail list.
There is an American robin that laid eggs in a nest on our electric box
right outside our front door.
Feel free to come and do the Mitzvah of Shiluach Hakan (known to be a
segula for many things, including children, Arichus Yamim, finding a house,
finding a shidduch)
Please be careful when you come to close to have in mind that you are
scaring away the bird for the Mitzvah because the bird flies away very
easily and you don't want to miss the opportunity(the american robin is
always a female that sits on the eggs)
After you scare the mother away (can be just by coming close)Climb up the
ladder (VERY carefully, it is rickety) Lift up one of the eggs and have in
mind that you are taking the egg for yourself, then be Mafkir it in your
mind and put it back.
The mitzvah can be done by men, women, and children
Is there any better expression of what is broken with Orthodox Judaism, or how far apart the letter and spirit of the law have drifted?
A commandment meant to train us to act compassionately (by not taking the eggs in front of the mother), or to instil the message that species need to be preserved and shouldn’t be over-harvested (Danger! Radical Reform Conservationist Tikkun Olam Alert!) has instead become a Segulah to be finagled on a technicality.
To detach a commandment from the associated character development, and to turn it into a series of legal fictions (having in mind that you’re taking possession of the egg, then enacting a Kinyan, then having in mind that you in fact do not need the egg after all) meant to score a reward is to miss the boat. Just because you can touch two wires together inside a pinball machine and get the scoreboard to read 1,000,000 points doesn’t mean that you know how to play.
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