• Leann Shamash

The Mother Bird

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

#motherbird #deuteronomy #birdnest #wordshavewings #astory



Parshat Ki Teitzei is a parsha that needs to be studied; turned over and over again for its riches. It is the torah that reaches us on a personal level. How do we show compassion? How do we show fairness, both when others are watching, but also at a time that no one's gaze is upon us? This is the Torah of everyday.

Torah Shel Chesed. I write here about one passage from Ki Teitzei, but this passage is emblamatic of many more. How do we act when we are given tiny moments by ourselves, with only a bird and her eggs as our witnesses?


"If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young." Deuteronomy 22:6


כִּ֣י יִקָּרֵ֣א *(בספרי תימן קַן בקו״ף גדולה)קַן־צִפּ֣וֹר ׀ לְפָנֶ֡יךָ בַּדֶּ֜רֶךְ בְּכׇל־עֵ֣ץ ׀ א֣וֹ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶפְרֹחִים֙ א֣וֹ בֵיצִ֔ים וְהָאֵ֤ם רֹבֶ֙צֶת֙ עַל־הָֽאֶפְרֹחִ֔ים א֖וֹ עַל־הַבֵּיצִ֑ים לֹא־תִקַּ֥ח הָאֵ֖ם עַל־הַבָּנִֽים׃

THE MOTHER BIRD

1.

And the mother bird

builds her nest.

Carefully.

Artfully.

Straw speedily swept up

In her beak a dried leaf,

now a bit of mud,

feathers added for softness.


She is a sculptor, an artist,

a builder of homes,

offering shelter for her children.

She builds not from love,

but from intuition

deep and old.

She senses that predators exist.

She builds to protect her young

hoping,

if a mother bird can hope ,

that one day they will leave the nest

and fly,

fly away.

2.

A man walks upon a dusty road,

hair, the color of moonlight

swinging with his stride.

It is morning

and the quiet sings

a quiet song.

The village is yet far

and the sun hot.

The man pauses to drink

for a moment

under the branches

of a tree

He seeks shelter from the sun.

And the man hears a call of warning,

the piercing call of a bird.

3.

The man looks up.

Through the leaves he sees the nest.

The mother bird looks down upon him,

scolding, warning.

And he begins to climb

He is tall, his long limbs reaching

steadily upward.

He is thinking

eggs for his family,

tasty and fresh.

4.

And the man climbs higher.

5.

The mother bird squeals

She ruffles her feathers

She tries to puff herself up

to look larger.

She presses a little harder

on the eggs beneath her.

She is fierce.


6.

What more can the mother bird do?

She is smaller and but a bird

her children are vulnerable

Her body shelters them from harm.

7.

And the man climbs higher,

his hair covered now with dust and twigs.


8.

He reaches the nest

The mother bird has stopped

her call.

And the man's and the bird's eyes meet.

All is still except for a slight breeze.

9.

Perhaps it is a bat kol?*

10.

And this is Torah

in a tree

one warm, sunny morning.

The powerless and the powerful

meet on a branch.

The hand that can take,

that can make change

and the mother that protects her young.

11.

The breeze blows

It runs through the hair of the man

and the feathers of the bird.

12.

And the man extends his hand.

13.

And here the story ends

As he and the mother bird meet each other’s eyes.

14.

Torah is about words

but it is more about what we do

how we act

while standing on the branch of a tree

one quiet and sunny morning.


15.

And all the rest is commentary



* A Bat Kol is Gd's soft and gentle voice heard in the world.

** Rabbi Hillel said about Torah, ‘What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah, the rest is the commentary; go and learn it.’ Talmud: Shabbat:31a



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