QUESTION: The Mishnah states that according to Rebbi Tarfon, when a
firstborn animal is born through Caesarian section ("Yotzei Dofen"), both
the firstborn animal and the animal both afterwards must be left to graze
until they become blemished, and then they may be slaughtered and eaten.
RASHI (DH Sheneihem) explains that Rebbi Tarfon maintains that each animal
is a doubtful Bechor. Rebbi Tarfon is in doubt whether an animal that is
considered to be the firstborn in only one respect has the status of Bechor
or not. In this case, the firstborn animal (the Yotzei Dofen) is *not* the
first animal to open the womb, but it is the first male to be born. The
second animal born is not the first male to be born, but it is the first
animal to emerge through the womb.
How can Rebbi Tarfon have a doubt whether a Yotzei Dofen is a Bechor? The
Torah states explicitly that the Bechor must be "Peter Rechem" (Shemos
13:12); a Yotzei Dofen should certainly be exempt!
ANSWER: The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Bechoros 2:4) resolves this question by
offering an interesting interpretation for the verse. When the verse says,
"Every firstborn (Peter Rechem) shall be for Hashem," this refers to an
ordinary, firstborn male, which must be given to a Kohen.
The verse continues, "And any firstborn animal sent out (Peter Sheger
Behemah) of its mother." The word "Sheger" refers to a stillborn, which is
called a "Sheger," as the verse says, "Shegar Alafecha" (Devarim 7:13),
referring to the offspring of your cattle that is "sent out" from the womb
(see Rashi there). The Or Same'ach asserts that "Kol Peter Sheger Behemah"
refers to an animal born to the mother, but not from the womb -- that is, a
Yotzei Dofen. The verse is teaching that a Bechor that is a Yotzei Dofen
must also be given to a Kohen.
With regard to the next part of the verse, "ha'Zecharim la'Hashem" -- "the
males shall be for Hashem," the Or Same'ach says that Rebbi Tarfon maintains
"Iy Efshar l'Tzamtzem," it is not possible for twin babies to emerge from
the mother simultaneously. Therefore, Rebbi Tarfon does not interpret the
words, "ha'Zecharim la'Hashem," in the same way as Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili
interprets them (17a). Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili says that these words teach that
when two male twins are born at the same time, both are considered the
Bechor and must be given to the Kohen. Instead, Rebbi Tarfon explains that
the verse refers to a case in which the first baby emerged through a
Caesarian section, and the second baby emerged naturally, and the verse is
teaching that both must be given to the Kohen. This is derived from the
usage of the word "ha'Zecharim," in the plural form. (The reason why Rebbi
Tarfon rules that both animals must graze is because he is in doubt whether
this is the accurate interpretation of the verse.)
The Or Same'ach adds that according to this explanation, the question of
TOSFOS here (DH Reisha) can be answered. Tosfos asks that even if the first
baby was a female born through a Caesarian section, Rebbi Tarfon should also
rule that the next animal born (through a natural birth) must be given to
the Kohen. According to the Or Same'ach's explanation, however, if the
firstborn animal was a female born through a Caesarian section, it is
neither a "Peter Rechem" nor a "Sheger Rechem," because it is not a male.
Therefore, the next animal born is certainly exempt from the laws of Bechor.
(See also the Or Same'ach's words in MESHECH CHOCHMAH to Devarim 15:19,
where he explains that according to Rebbi Tarfon, a Yotzei Dofen is
certainly unfit for a Korban, as the Gemara in Chulin (38b) derives from
Vayikra 22:27.) (D. Bloom)