1) THE RAMBAM'S RULING WITH REGARD TO EATING MEAT IN THE "MIDBAR"
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 the Jewish people were forbidden to eat meat in the Midbar, even if the animal was properly slaughtered, unless the animal was offered a Korban.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shechitah 4:17) writes that "when Bnei Yisrael were in the Midbar, they were not commanded to perform Shechitah with Chulin, rather they would cut or slaughter like other nations do. 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. The Rambam seems to rule like Rebbi Akiva, because he mentions (twice) that the Jewish people in the Midbar were allowed to cut an animal and eat it without Shechitah. However, the Rambam also writes that if they wanted to slaughter an animal and eat its meat, they needed to slaughter only a Shelamim. This ruling follows the opinion of Rebbi Yishmael (who understands that the verses of Shechutei Chutz, to which the Rambam refers, teach that this was the only manner in which they could eat meat.) According to Rebbi Akiva, anyone could slaughter Chulin in the Midbar whenever they wanted without bringing a Shelamim. How does the Rambam understand the Sugya?
ANSWER: The CHASAM SOFER and MEROMEI SADEH explain that the Rambam understands that even according to Rebbi Akiva, the Jewish people were commanded not only the prohibition against slaughtering animals of Kodshim 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 the nations who offered sacrifices to demons or to idols to do so through Shechitah. The Torah therefore prohibited any type of Shechitah that was not done in the Mishkan. However, the Torah permitted 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 do not argue at all (according to the Rambam) about the aforementioned verses in Vayikra. They agree that the verse prohibits 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 perform 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 understands that the Torah is teaching that the Jewish people would now be allowed to eat Chulin if they perform Shechitah.
The Chasam Sofer cites support for the Rambam's approach from the discussion in the Gemara here. The Gemara questions Rebbi Akiva's opinion from the verse in which Moshe Rabeinu asks Hash-m, "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's question is that the verse is using the wrong terminology; it should say, "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, according to Rebbi Akiva, the Shechitah of Chulin was permitted outside the Mishkan, 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 verse should have emphasized the greater novelty -- that they could eat meat merely by cutting up the animal.)
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 Hash-m 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 Hash-m" (Vayikra 17:4). Later, Hash-m 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 the Shechitah of Chulin was forbidden in the Midbar, as the RAMBAN (to Vayikra 17:4) points out (as mentioned in Insights to Chulin 16:4). However, the Meromei Sadeh explains that the Rambam -- who maintains that everyone agrees that the Shechitah of Chulin was forbidden in the Midbar -- understands that the Midrash is according to both Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Yishmael.
The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN
(see Insights to Chulin 16:4
) explains how it is possible that Shechitah of Chulin is 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 the Torah proscribes the slaughter of an animal which is not a Korban, when one slaughters an animal 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. RAV ELYASHIV
shlit'a in HE'OROS B'MASECHES CHULIN
comments the Ran's logic, however, is even more applicable to the Rambam's understanding of Rebbi Akiva. According to Rebbi Akiva, Shechitah was a process reserved for Kodshim, while Nechirah was reserved for eating. If one performed Shechitah to an animal, it was apparent that he was being Makdish the animal with his action, since Shechitah was the method for killing Kodshim. This is how Rebbi Akiva understands how the same verse that forbids Shechitas Kodshim ba'Chutz also forbids Shechitas Chulin ba'Chutz. (Y. MONTROSE
2) THE ALLOWANCE TO EAT MEAT OF "NECHIRAH"
OPINIONS: 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). Rebbi Yirmeyah asks whether 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 meat from an animal that was not killed through Shechitah?
(a) RASHI (DH she'Hichnisu) writes that Rebbi Yirmeyah's question is solely theoretical and has no practical application. (Indeed, Rebbi Yirmeyah is known to ask such questions; see Bava Basra 23b.)
(b) The ROSH (1:23) disagrees with Rashi. He points out that the Gemara does not discuss Halachic questions which have no 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 a proper Shechitah. (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 the Jewish people were permitted to eat the prohibited foods 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 from the giving of the Torah) certainly applies even to what is left in the pots. However, a prohibition which is announced before the time that it applies takes effect only on what is acquired after that time. (The Noda b'Yehudah suggests that the Rosh's second case also refers to a decree of Beis Din that is announced before it is to take effect.) Just as the prohibition is limited in the time that it takes effect, it also may be limited to the objects on which it takes effect (and it prohibits only the objects acquired after the prohibition becomes binding).
3) THE BASIS TO PERMIT LEFTOVER MEAT OF "NECHIRAH"
QUESTION: 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). Rebbi Yirmeyah asks whether leftovers from this period were permitted once the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara says that his question cannot refer 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, and thus they certainly 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 be forbidden, 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 the 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; any Jew 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 the food of the Canaanite nations was permitted under all circumstances during the years of conquest. Accordingly, the meat of Nechirah also should have been permitted. The Gemara concludes that only the food captured from the Nochrim was permitted, and thus it is obvious that the allowance was 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.)
4) HALACHAH: THE NECESSITY TO EXAMINE A KNIFE BEFORE "SHECHITAH"
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the source for the requirement to examine the knife used for Shechitah. This requirement seems to refer to examining the knife before Shechitah. One might have thought that he may 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 certainly was performed in a proper manner with a valid knife. (The BEIS YOSEF (YD 18:3) writes that this is the implication of the Gemara later on 18a.) However, the SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 18:3) and all of the Poskim rule that the knife must be checked before Shechitah. What is the reason for this requirement?
(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 the knife after he slaughters, and the animal will then be considered a 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 l'Vatalah if the knife is found afterwards to be blemished.
(c) The Tevu'os Shor adds that the Isur of Bal Tashchis prohibits one from causing a Kosher animal to become a Neveilah. To slaughter an animal without knowing whether it will be a Neveilah, when it is easy to avoid causing it to become a Neveilah by simply examining the knife before the Shechitah, constitutes Bal Tashchis (if the knife is later found to be blemished).
The SIFSEI DA'AS (18:5) suggests that there are practical differences between the different reasons. The reason of Berachah l'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 be the same as the value of Kosher meat.
It also seems 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 when the knife is found afterwards to be unblemished, then certainly the use of a knife that was examined before Shechitah and then stored away should not be prohibited. 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 may slaughter without examining the knife immediately before the Shechitah.
The MACHZIK BERACHAH disagrees with the reasoning of the Sifsei Da'as. He writes that a knife easily can become blemished over time even when it is stored away for Shechitah. Moreover, slaughtering an animal with a blemishes knife also involves a question of Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim (see RITVA to Avodah Zarah 11a). Finally, 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)
5) CHECKING THE SIDES OF THE KNIFE FOR DENTS AND NICKS
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 also the sides of their knives.
Rav Yeimar derives from the ruling of Rebbi Zeira that the sides of 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 does not touch the Simanim.
The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 18:9) rules that one is required to examine the sides of the knife. However, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 9:1) also records the opinion that an animal that was slaughtered with a red-hot knife is valid, because the sides of the knife do not come into contact (and burn) the Simanim of the animal while cutting. If there is no concern that the sides of the hot knife make contact with the Simanim, why is one 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 sides of the knife is not due to the concern that there might be a nick. Rather, one must examine the sides 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 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 one must 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.