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Topic: Eggs, Sending Mother Away, Farm Eggs

George Kelly wrote:

In Ki Teitzei (Deut. 22:6-7) it says that before taking the eggs from a nest, there's a mitzvah to send away the mother bird. How do we get eggs today from a hen house? Are the chickens removed? If not are the eggs still kosher?

Dear George,

This mitzvah doesn't apply to farm eggs. The Torah says "When you chance upon a bird's nest along the road...and the mother is nesting on the eggs or on the young...don't take the mother with the young; send away the mother...." From the phrase 'when you chance upon,' the Talmud derives that this mitzvah applies only to birds and eggs that you 'chance upon,' but does not apply to those that you own.

If, however, there would be an ownerless chicken nesting in the wild, the mitzvah applies. And, in such a case, if someone took the eggs without first sending away the mother, the eggs are nevertheless Kosher.

One day last spring while I was lowering the canvas awning over our balcony, a bird's nest fell out and eggs broke all over the place! The next day, birds were at it again, building their nest in the exact same place. This time I removed the nest carefully without breaking the eggs. But, alas, the mitzvah of sending away the mother didn't apply: Since the nest was on my property, this was not a nest of eggs that I 'chanced upon.'

Which reminds me:

Why didn't the egg lend any money to the man?
'Cause it was broke.
  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 292:2.

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