Click here for the original text of the Talmud.

This tractate, which literally means “profane [items],” covers the laws of preparing kosher meat for consumption (as opposed to sacred sacrificial meat) and other laws that govern the Jewish dietary restrictions.

The last chapter discusses the mitzvah of “sending away the mother,” which forbids the taking of eggs or hatchlings in the presence of the mother bird, and the requirement to shoo the mother away before taking her brood.

Regarding this mitzvah, the Torah writes “… that it be good for you, and you live a long life.” The Talmud quotes a tradition regarding Acher, the sage-turned-heretic, who once saw someone die whilst performing this very mitzvah, for which we are promised longevity. Disillusioned, he turned his back on the Torah. The Talmud notes that Acher reacted thus because he was unaware that the sages interpret the ‘good long life’ to refer to the afterlife, which is entirely good and eternal—and not this corporeal reality.