This week’s Parashah, Parashat Ki Teitzei, is filled with various Mitzvot, all of which pertain to different aspects of life. One of the various Mitzvot found in this Parashah is the Mitzvah of Shilu’ach HaKan. “If a bird’s nest chances before you… and [it contains] fledglings or eggs, if the mother is sitting upon the fledglings or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother upon the young. You shall send away the mother, and [then] you may take the young for yourself, in order that it should be good for you, and you should lengthen your days” (Devarim 22:6-7). The Yerushalmi (Kiddushin 1:2) writes that the Mitzvah of Shilu’ach HaKan is the “lightest Mitzvah,” most likely because it requires the least effort to accomplish. All that is involved in the fulfillment of this Mitzvah is making a loud noise or even just approaching the nest. Why then is this commandment, the one nicknamed the “lightest” out of all the 613 Mitzvot, given the reward of a long life? Moreover, we know that there are few Mitzvot which are rewarded with a long life, one of which is the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av VaEim (honoring your parents). However, with the commandment of honoring your parents, the reward makes sense. This is one of the most difficult Mitzvot to fulfill, as it requires constant effort and a lifetime of dedication. How then can the simple Mitzvah of scaring away a bird be equated to the extremely difficult Mitzvah of honoring your parents?
I believe the answer lies in one of Rambam’s teachings which he writes in the laws of repentance. Rambam teaches that every single person should view himself and the entire world exactly in the middle of good and evil. We should view every action as having the ability to tilt the scales for us and the entire world to either good or bad. We learn from Rambam that the reason the Torah chooses to emphasize such a seemingly easy Mitzvah is to teach us that even such a small, trivial action as scaring away a bird can offset the balance of good and evil for the individual and the entire world.
It is no coincidence that Parashat Ki Teitzei is read around the same time as Rosh Chodesh Elul. Just as Elul is a time for self-reflection, the Mitzvah of Shilu’ach HaKan teaches us a valuable lesson on how we see the world and the impact every action we do has on it, no matter how big or small. If we can embrace this message and place the utmost care on every action we do, we can grow in tremendous ways and become who Hashem knows we are fully capable of becoming.