The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 7 November 2009 / 19 Heshvan 5770

A Head for the Birds

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

In the midst of a shiur in Talmud given to a group of Jerusalem laymen, Rabbi Ezra Attiah, the Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivat Porat Yossef, faced a challenge from one of his students. The subject being studied was the Torah command for someone who finds a bird's nest on a tree or on the ground to send away the mother bird before taking its eggs or fledglings. A question is raised in the gemara whether this obligation also applies to a nest on a person's head.

"How is such a thing possible?" asked the challenger. "Why should the Sages deliberate about such an impossible scenario?"

Before the rabbi had a chance to respond, there entered the room a Jew who had been absent for a considerable amount of time from the shiur in which he was a regular participant.

"Welcome back," the rabbi greeted him and asked him where he had been.

"I was away in the Far East on business," was the reply. "I saw many strange things, but what struck me most was seeing a man who had been motionlessly meditating for days until a bird built its nest on his head!"

The rabbi smiled as the challenger learned his lesson.

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