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Chulin, 17


QUESTION: The Gemara continues discussing the argument between Rebbi Yishmael and Rebbi Akiva. Rebbi Akiva maintains that the Jewish people were permitted to eat meat in the Midbar even without Shechitah, and even from an animal that was killed with Nechirah (cutting the animal lengthwise; see RASHI DH veha'Nocher). Rebbi Yishmael maintains that it was prohibited to eat any meat in the Midbar, even from an animal that was properly slaughtered, unless the animal was a Korban.

The RAMBAM's ruling is not clear. The Rambam (Hilchos Shechitah 4:17) writes that "when Benei Yisrael were in the Midbar, they were not commanded regarding the Shechitah of Chulin, rather they would cut or slaughter like other nations. And they were commanded in the Midbar that whoever wanted to slaughter should slaughter only a Shelamim, as it is written (Vayikra 17:4-5). However, one who wanted to cut up an animal and eat it in the Midbar would cut it up and eat it."

The Rambam's words are difficult to understand. On one hand, it seems that the Rambam rules like Rebbi Akiva, because he mentions (twice) that they were allowed to cut an animal and eat it without Shechitah. On the other hand, the Rambam says that they if they wanted to slaughter and eat meat, then they should slaughter only a Shelamim. This ruling follows the opinion of Rebbi Yishmael (who says that the verses of Shechutei Chutz to which the Rambam refers mean that this was the only way they could eat meat). According to Rebbi Akiva, anyone could slaughter Chulin in the Midbar *whenever they wanted* without bringing a Shelamim! What is the Rambam's understanding of the Sugya?

ANSWER: The CHASAM SOFER and the MEROMEI SADEH explain that the Rambam understands that even according to Rebbi Akiva, the Jewish people were commanded not only the prohibition against slaughtering Kodshim animals outside of the Mishkan, but they were commanded to stop slaughtering Chulin animals outside of the Mishkan as well. The verse warns against slaughtering animals in the field for the demons, since it was the common practice of people who were offering sacrifices to demons or Avodah Zarah to do so through Shechitah. The Torah therefore prohibited any type of Shechitah that was not done in the Mishkan. However, it was permitted for them to kill an animal by cutting it up in a way which did not resemble Shechitah, which was the way the Nochrim used to kill animals that they would eat.

The Meromei Sadeh concludes that Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Yishmael are not arguing at all (according to the Rambam) about the aforementioned verses in Vayikra. They agree that the verse prohibits any kind of Shechitah outside of the Mishkan. The question is how to learn the verses in Devarim (12:20), in which the Jewish people are told that they may eat meat of Chulin in Eretz Yisrael if they do Shechitah. Rebbi Akiva understands that the Torah is telling the Jewish people that they may no longer eat Chulin through cutting up the animal, while Rebbi Yishmael learns that it is teaching that the Jewish people would now be allowed to eat Chulin if they performed Shechitah.

The Chasam Sofer provides support for the Rambam's approach from the discussion in our Gemara. The Gemara questions Rebbi Akiva's opinion from the verse in which Moshe Rabeinu asks Hashem, "Will sheep and cattle be slaughtered for them?" (Bamidbar 11:22). The Gemara asks that according to Rebbi Akiva, the Torah should say "Yinacher Lahem" -- "... be cut up for them"! Why does the verse use the terminology of Shechitah?

The Chasam Sofer explains that this question is more understandable according to the approach of the Rambam, who learns that Rebbi Akiva maintains that Chulin could not be slaughtered in the Midbar. According to the Rambam, the Gemara is asking that the verse is using the wrong terminology, since it should say instead, "Yinacher Lahem," because they could do Nechirah without bringing a Korban, while they could not slaughter an animal without bringing a Korban. However, according to RASHI (DH Basar Ta'avah), who explains that it was permitted to slaughter Chulin outside the Mishkan according to Rebbi Akiva, what is problematic with the verse's terminology? Why should the verse say "Yinacher"? (It is possible that Rashi understands that the Gemara is asking that the greater novelty -- that they could eat through merely cutting it up -- should have been emphasized in the verse.)

The HA'EMEK DAVAR (Vayikra 17:3) explains that the Rambam maintains that this is the intention of the Midrash. The Midrash (Devarim Rabah 4:6) says that Hashem prohibited many things to the Jewish people, and then He permitted those things. He prohibited them from slaughtering and eating unless the animal was brought (as a Korban) to the Ohel Mo'ed, as it says, "And he does not bring it to the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed, to offer an offering to Hashem" (Vayikra 17:4). Later, Hashem permitted this to them, as it says, "Whenever your soul desires you may eat meat" (Devarim 12:20). The Midrash certainly seems to be expressing the opinion of Rebbi Yishmael, since it says that Shechitah of Chulin was forbidden in the Midbar, as the RAMBAN (to Vayikra 17:4) points out (as we mentioned in Insights to Chulin 16:4). However, the Meromei Sadeh explains that the Rambam -- who holds that everyone agrees that *Shechitah* of Chulin was forbidden in the Midbar -- understands that the Midrash is according to both Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Yishmael!

We mentioned earlier (Insights to Chulin 16:4) that the CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN explains how Shechitah of Chulin could be included in the same prohibition as Shechutei Chutz (the Shechitah of Kodshim outside of the Mishkan), even though they seem to be two different prohibitions. The Ran explains that once we know that there is no permission to slaughter an animal unless one is slaughtering a Korban, his act of Shechitah is tantamount to an explicit declaration that the animal is dedicated to Hekdesh. The Ran is explaining the view of Rebbi Yishmael. However, RAV ELYASHIV shlit'a comments this logic is even more applicable to the Rambam's understanding of Rebbi Akiva. According to Rebbi Akiva, Shechitah was a process that was reserved for Kodshim, while Nechirah was reserved for eating. If one would perform Shechitah to an animal, it would be apparent that he is being Makdish the animal with this action, since Shechitah was the method for killing Kodshim! This is how Rebbi Akiva will understand how the same verse that forbids Shechitas Kodshim ba'Chutz also forbids slaughtering Chulin ba'Chutz. (Y. Montrose)

OPINIONS: Rebbi Akiva maintains that the Jewish people were permitted to eat meat in the Midbar even without Shechitah, and even meat from an animal killed through Nechirah (cutting the animal lengthwise). Rebbi Yirmeyah asks whether or not leftovers from this period were permitted once the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael.

How is it possible that such meat could be permitted, when the Torah explicitly prohibits any meat from an animal that was not killed through Shechitah?

(a) RASHI (DH she'Hichnisu) writes that this question is solely theoretical and has no practical application.

(b) The ROSH (1:23) argues with Rashi, pointing out that the Gemara does not discuss Halachic questions which can have practical application. The Rosh suggests two possible applications for Rebbi Yirmeyah's question. The first practical application is in a case in which a person makes a Neder prohibiting a certain food upon himself beginning at a specified time, and some of the food remains in his possession when that time arrives. May he eat that food or not?

The second practical application is in a case in which Beis Din decrees that a certain food may not be eaten. If a Jew happens to have some of that food in his possession, may he continue to eat it until he finishes his supply?

Rashi apparently disagrees with the Rosh and maintains that these cases are not comparable to Rebbi Yirmeyah's question. Rebbi Yirmeyah's doubt involves only a case of meat from an animal that was killed in a manner that the Torah, at the time of the animal's death, considered to be a proper Shechitah of an animal. (Even in the Midbar, the animal had to be actively killed. An animal that died by itself was prohibited.) Since an *act* was done to permit the meat, perhaps it would not become prohibited even when the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael and the Torah's prohibition against non-slaughtered meat went into effect. Rebbi Yirmeyah's question, therefore, obviously has no relevance to the cases that the Rosh mentions.

The NODA B'YEHUDAH (YD 2:64)) asks that according to the Rosh, why does Rebbi Yirmeyah not ask a more basic question? He should ask whether or not the Jewish people were permitted to eat the prohibited foods that was left in their pots at the time the Torah was given! Since the laws suddenly came into effect at the giving of the Torah, Rebbi Yirmeyah's question should apply in that situation as well!

The Noda b'Yehudah answers that the Rosh answers this question by applying Rebbi Yirmeyah's question specifically to a case in which a person makes a Neder prohibiting a certain food upon himself "beginning at a specified time." A prohibition that starts "from today" (such as the giving of the Torah) certainly applies even to what is left in one's pots. However, a prohibition which is announced before the time that it applies takes effect only to what is acquired after that time! (The Noda b'Yehudah suggests that the Rosh's second case is also referring to a decree of Beis Din that is announced *before* it is to take effect.) Just as the prohibition was limited in the *time* that it takes effect, so, too, it may be limited to the objects to which it takes effect (and it prohibits only the objects acquired after the prohibition becomes binding).

QUESTION: Rebbi Akiva maintains that the Jewish people were permitted to eat meat in the Midbar even without Shechitah, and even meat from an animal killed through Nechirah (cutting the animal lengthwise). Rebbi Yirmeyah asks whether or not leftovers from this period were permitted once the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara says that the question cannot be referring to the years of conquest of the land, because during those years the Jews were allowed to eat even the non-Kosher food that they found in the houses of the conquered nations. Certainly, then, they were permitted to eat the meat that they had brought with them from the Midbar.

The RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 8:1) rules that soldiers are allowed to eat non-Kosher food in a time of war, but only when they are very hungry and nothing else is available. How does the Rambam understand the Gemara's question? The permissibility to eat the food of the Canaanite nations was a special dispensation for soldiers in need; it was not a blanket annulment of the prohibition against eating forbidden foods! Accordingly, the meat of Nechirah should certainly be Asur, just like any other forbidden food! (TUREI EVEN, Rosh Hashanah 13a, DH mi'Macharas)

ANSWER: The Acharonim explain that the Rambam permits the soldiers to eat non-Kosher food even when their lives are not in danger. This is clear from that fact that a special dispensation is given to soldiers to eat non-Kosher food in a time of war. If the reason is because of danger of starvation, then there is no need for a special dispensation for soldiers! Every person is allowed to eat non-Kosher food when it is a matter of Piku'ach Nefesh! Rather, the Torah's allowance for soldiers to eat non-Kosher food is based on the principle of "Dibrah Torah k'Neged Yetzer ha'Ra," the same principle underlying the Torah's allowance to take a "Yefas To'ar" during a time of war (Kidushin 21b).

According to the Rambam, the Gemara initially assumed that it was permitted to eat the food of the Canaanite nations under all circumstances during the years of conquest. Accordingly, it should be permitted to eat the meat of Nechirah. The Gemara concludes that only what was captured from the Nochrim was permitted to be eaten, and thus it is obvious that the allowance is based on "Dibrah Torah k'Neged Yetzer ha'Ra," which applies only to soldiers. This statement of the Gemara is the source for the Rambam's opinion. (See AVI EZRI, Hilchos Melachim 8:1, MAHARATZ CHAYOS here, RAMBAN to Devarim 6:10, and CHIDUSHEI HA'GRIZ, Parshas Va'eschanan. See also YOSEF DA'AS here.)


OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the source for the requirement to examine the knife used for Shechitah. This seems to refer to examining the knife *before* Shechitah. We might have thought that it is permitted to wait until after Shechitah to examine the knife, because if the knife is found to have no nick after Shechitah, there should be no reason to prohibit the meat, since the Shechitah was certainly performed in a proper manner with a valid knife. (The BEIS YOSEF (YD 18:3) says that this is the implication of the Gemara later on 18a.) However, the SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 18:3) and all of the Poskim say that the knife must be checked before Shechitah. What is the reason for this Halachah?
(a) The RASHBA in TORAS HA'BAYIS (ha'Katzar, 13a) writes that one is not permitted to slaughter an animal with an unexamined knife, since he might forget to examine his knife after he slaughters, and the animal will then be considered Neveilah.

(b) The TEVU'OS SHOR (18:1) adds another reason. If the Shochet does not examine the knife before the Shechitah, and he proceeds to recite a Berachah and perform the Shechitah, then the Berachah will be a Berachah le'Vatalah if the knife is found afterwards to be blemished.

(c) The Tevu'os Shor adds that there is also a prohibition of Bal Tashchis against causing meat of a Kosher animal to become Neveilah. To slaughter an animal without knowing whether it will be Neveilah or not when it is easy to prevent it from becoming Neveilah by simply examining the knife before the Shechitah is constitutes Bal Tashchis (if the knife turns out to be blemished).

The SIFSEI DA'AS (18:5) suggests that there are practical differences between the different reasons. The reason of Berachah le'Vatalah would not apply if the Shochet hears the Berachah from someone else. The reason of Bal Tashchis would not apply if the value of Neveilah meat happens to have the same as the value of Kosher meat.

It would seem, also, that a knife that was examined and then put aside to be used for Shechitah at a later time may be used without examining it immediately before the Shechitah. The Sifsei Da'as says that the Rashba's reasoning does not prohibit Shechitah with such a knife. If meat from an animal that was slaughtered with a knife that was not checked at all before the Shechitah is permitted, b'Di'eved, if the knife is found afterward to be unblemished, then certainly we should not prohibit the use of a knife that *was* examined before Shechitah and then stored. Therefore, the Sifsei Da'as concludes, in a case in which the Shochet heard the Berachah from someone else, and the price of Kosher meat is the same as the price of Neveilah, and the knife was examined earlier and stored for Shechitah, one can slaughter without examining the knife immediately before the Shechitah.

The MACHZIK BERACHAH argues with the reasoning of the Sifsei Da'as. First, he says that a knife can easily become blemished over time even when it is stored for Shechitah. Second, slaughtering an animal with a knife that is blemished also involves a question of Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim (see RITVA to Avodah Zarah 11a). In addition, according to Kabalah, Shechitah performed properly effects a Tikun of the sparks of Kedushah inside the animal, or for the Gilgulim that might be in the animal. He rules, therefore, that one should not rely on this leniency (see there at length). (Y. Montrose)

QUESTION: The Gemara relates that a number of Amora'im examined not only the tip of the blades of their Shechitah knives for nicks, but they also examined the sides of the knives for nicks.

Rav Yeimar says that we learn from the ruling of Rebbi Zeira that the sides the knife do not need to be examined. Rebbi Zeira rules that Shechitah performed with a red-hot knife is valid, because the blade cuts before it burns through the Simanim. It does not burn the Simanim on the sides of the blade as the blade cuts, because while the knife cuts the Simanim, the sides of the cut separate from each other, so that they do not touch the hot sides of the blade. Similarly, even if there is a nick on the side of the blade, the side of the blade will not touch the Simanim.

The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 18:9) rules that we are required to examine the sides of the knife. However, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 9:1) also records the opinion that maintains that an animal that was slaughtered with a red-hot knife on the grounds that the sides of the knife do not come into contact (and burn) the Simanim of the animal while cutting. Why, then, are we required to examine the sides of the knife for nicks?


(a) The ROSH (1:8) quotes RABEINU YONAH who suggests that the requirement to examine the side of the knife is not because we are concerned that there might be a nick. Rather, we must examine the side of the knife for any *protrusions*. A protrusion would puncture the skin even though the slit widens as the knife passes through the neck.

(b) The RA'AVAD (also quoted by the Rosh) suggests that an animal that was slaughtered with a red-hot knife is permitted only when the Shochet insists that he was careful not to accidentally hold the knife at an angle as he cut. The reason why we examine the sides of the knife for nicks is in case the Shochet holds the knife at an angle during the Shechitah, letting the side of the knife touch the skin.

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