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Chagigah, 11

CHAGIGAH 11 - sponsored by a donation from Heshy Follman of New York.


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that the minimum size of a Sheretz that will be Metamei is a Sheretz the size of a lentil bean, because the smallest whole Sheretz is the size of a small lentil when it is young. This small Sheretz is called the "Chomet." What is a "Chomet?"

(a) RASHI defines the Chomet as a "limace" (Fr.), or snail. (The word "limga," with a Gimel, printed in our texts of Rashi appears to be a printer's error; elsewhere Rashi consistently writes "limace," with a Tzadi) Rashi in Chulin (121a, DH Halta'ah) says that if one looks at the shell of the limace, one will see that the innermost of its spiral twirls (which denotes the size of the Chomet at birth, since the shell grows as the body of the snail grows) is the size of a lentil bean. Rashi's source for calling a Chomet a snail is probably the Midrash which he quotes in Parshas Ekev (Devarim 8:4) which says that the clothes of the Jews in the Midbar were "like the shell of a Chomet, which grows as the Chomet grows."

(b) TOSFOS RID argues with Rashi and says that the Chomet mentioned here must be a different type of Chomet than that mentioned in the Midrash. This Chomet cannot be a snail, because the Mishnah in Shabbos (107a) says that one who captures on Shabbos one of the eight Sheratzim mentioned in the Torah is Chayav for Tzeidah, and one who punctures its skin and makes it bleed is Chayav for Chovel.

How could the Gemara refer to the "skin of a Chomet" if it is a snail? Snails do not have any skin! Moreover, how can one be Chayav for capturing a snail? It is "already captured," since it cannot run away when a person tries to pick it up, and thus it is like a blind grasshopper, or an infant deer, for which one is not Chayav if he captures it on Shabbos since it does not run away (Shabbos 106b, Beitzah 25a Rashi DH Bah).

The same questions apply to those opinions that maintain that the Chilazon from which Techeles is procured is the Murex Trunculus snail. The Gemara (Shabbos 75a) says that one is Chayav for Tzeidah if one captures a Chilazon on Shabbos. (It is true that the Yerushalmi cited by Tosfos there says that there is no Chiyuv of Tzeidah for capturing a Chilazon. However, the Bavli argues and says that there is a Chiyuv of Tzeidah -- see Insights to Shabbos 75a regarding the Chilazon.)

Perhaps the answer is that anything that is *hard to find* falls into the category of Tzeidah. Only if it does not require any effort in capturing it *nor in finding it*, one is not Chayav for Tzeidah. If it requires effort for either capturing it or for finding it, then one *is* Chayav for Tzeidah. Therefore, one will be Chayav for capturing a snail, since it normally buries itself beneath the ground or matches the colors of its surroundings and is thus difficult to find. Alternatively, perhaps only the type of animal that normally attempts to avoid capture can be considered "already captured" if it is blind or weak. An animal that does not run away under any circumstances, such as a snail, cannot be considered "already captured." It is not logical to consider the normal state of an animal's roaming to be a state of capture. Therefore, if one lifts up a snail he is Chayav for Tzeidah. (M. Kornfeld)

Regarding the question how the Mishnah could say that one is Chayav for puncturing the skin of a Chomet if a snail has practically no skin, it must be that even the very thin skin of a snail is enough to be Chayav for.


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