1) "SHECHITAS IMO METAHARASO"
QUESTION: The Chachamim in the Mishnah say that when one slaughters an animal and finds a live, nine-month-old fetus in the womb, the fetus may be eaten without slaughter, because "Shechitas Imo Metaharaso" -- the Shechitah of its mother makes it Tahor.
Why do the Chachamim say that the Shechitah of the mother "makes [the fetus] Tahor," if they permit the fetus to be eaten? They should say instead that "Shechitas Imo Matiraso" -- the Shechitah of its mother "permits it"!
ANSWER: Perhaps the Mishnah is hinting to the Halachah mentioned in the Gemara later (75b), which teaches that although the fetus of a Tereifah is not permitted to be eaten just as its mother is not permitted to be eaten, the fetus nevertheless is Tahor (just as its mother is Tahor) as a result of the Shechitah, and it does not have Tum'as Neveilah. We see that there are times when the Shechitah of the mother only makes the fetus Tahor but does not permit it to be eaten. (M. KORNFELD)
2) A LIVE CALF FOUND INSIDE A COW THAT WAS NOT SLAUGHTERED
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that when a cow is cut open (without first being properly slaughtered) and a live, nine-month-old calf is found inside it, the calf requires Shechitah in order to be permitted to be eaten, since the mother did not yet have Shechitah.
This seems obvious. What is the Mishnah teaching?
ANSWER: The CHASAM SOFER explains that the Mishnah is discussing a situation in which the mother was cut open while still alive in such a way that its calf is exposed. Even though the mother is then slaughtered with Shechitah, the fetus is no longer permitted through the Shechitah of the mother, since it has become exposed to the world and is no longer concealed within the womb. (Z. Wainstein)
3) A FETUS AT FULL TERM
QUESTION: The Mishnah (74a) states that when one slaughters an animal and finds inside it a living or dead eight-month-old fetus, or a dead nine-month-old fetus, the fetus may be eaten without Shechitah as long as its blood is removed. When a live, nine-month-old fetus is found, Rebbi Meir maintains that it requires Shechitah, and the Chachamim maintain that the Shechitah of the mother suffices to permit it.
RASHI in the Mishnah (DH Kor'o, and DH Ta'un) mentions that Rebbi Meir considers a fetus to be an independent being (at least with regard to Shechitah) as soon as the full term (nine months) of pregnancy has arrived, even before the fetus is born (see also RASHBA).
However, in the Gemara, Rashi (DH li'Me'utei, and end of DH Chelbo) writes that no one considers an animal to be born (and its Chelev prohibited) until both the full term of pregnancy has passed and the calf has been exposed to the air (i.e. birth)! How are the words of Rashi to be reconciled? (RASHASH)
ANSWER: Rashi in the Gemara adds the condition that the calf must be exposed to the air because he is discussing the Isur of Chelev. It is true that an animal does not need to be born in order to be considered an independent entity, according to Rebbi Meir. However, in order for its Chelev (fats) to be prohibited, the Chelev must be extracted from the animal and exposed to the air. As TOSFOS (75a, l'Divrei) points out (based on the Gemara on 103a), until the Chelev of a fetus is exposed to the air it is not prohibited. (M. KORNFELD)
4) THE STATUS OF A FETUS WITH REGARD TO OTHER LAWS
OPINIONS: In the first version of his statement, Rebbi Elazar in the name of Rebbi Oshiya says that the discussion of the Mishnah about the status of a nine-month-old fetus applies only to Shechitah. The Gemara infers from this statement that Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim do not argue with regard to the prohibitions of Chelev and Gid ha'Nasheh. In the second version of his statement, Rebbi Elazar in the name of Rebbi Oshiya says that the discussion of the Mishnah applies only to eating the fetus without Shechitah, and eating its Chelev and Gid. The Gemara infers from this statement that Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim do not argue with regard to the prohibition of having relations with an animal and the prohibition of making it work with a different species.
When the Gemara says that Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim do not argue with regard to these other laws, what does it mean?
(a) RASHI (in both DH Lo) explains that the Gemara means that the with regard to Chelev and Gid, or Revi'ah and Kil'ayim, even the Chachamim consider the fetus a separate entity.
(b) RABEINU GERSHOM, however, suggests an entirely different approach. He explains that Rebbi Meir considers a fetus to be an independent animal only with regard to Shechitah. With regard to Chelev and Gid, or Revi'ah and Kil'ayim, he agrees that the fetus is not considered a separate entity. Rather, it is part of the mother, and thus these laws do not apply to a fetus.
How, though, does Rabeinu Gershom understand the Gemara later? The Gemara says that according to Rebbi Meir, since a fetus inside a slaughtered cow requires Shechitah, it obviously may be used for the Pidyon of a firstborn donkey, since it is a separate animal. According to Rabeinu Gershom, Rebbi Meir considers it an animal only with regard to Shechitah, but not with regard to any other law!
Perhaps Rabeinu Gershom means that only while the fetus is still inside of its mother is it not considered a separate entity with regard to the other laws. He agrees that once it exits the mother's womb, it is like any other animal. The Gemara that says that a fetus may be used for Pidyon is discussing a fetus that has left the mother's womb. (M. KORNFELD)
5) REDEEMING A FIRSTBORN DONKEY WITH A "BEN PEKU'AH"
QUESTION: The Mishnah (74a) states that when a live, nine-month-old fetus is found inside of the mother after the mother was slaughtered, Rebbi Meir maintains that it requires Shechitah because it is considered an independent animal. The Chachamim maintain that it is not considered a separate entity, and thus the Shechitah of the mother suffices to permit the fetus.
The Gemara asks whether a live, nine-month-old fetal lamb found inside of the mother may be used for the redemption of a firstborn donkey ("Pidyon Peter Chamor"). The Gemara says that there is no question according to Rebbi Meir; since a fetus inside of a slaughtered animal requires Shechitah, it obviously is a separate animal and it may be used for the Pidyon of a firstborn donkey. Rather, the question is according to the Chachamim. Since the Shechitah of the mother is effective to permit the fetus, perhaps the Ben Peku'ah is considered "like meat in a bag" and is considered as though it was slaughtered, even though it is alive. The Mishnah in Bechoros (12a) states that one may not perform Pidyon with a slaughtered animal. On the other hand, perhaps since the Ben Peku'ah is physically alive and running around, it is not considered to have been slaughtered (with regard to using it for Pidyon) and, therefore, it may be used for Pidyon.
Mar Zutra answers that it may not be used for Pidyon, while Rav Ashi answers that it may be used.
Rav Ashi challenges Mar Zutra by pointing out that Mar Zutra's reasoning for disqualifying the Ben Peku'ah must be the Gezeirah Shavah that compares the "Seh" of Pidyon to the "Seh" of Korban Pesach. Just as a Ben Peku'ah cannot be used as a Korban Pesach, it cannot be used for Pidyon. Rav Ashi asks that according to this reasoning, Pidyon should also require a male, one-year-old, unblemished animal, just as those conditions are required for the Korban Pesach, and yet no such requirements are recorded for the animal used for Pidyon.
RASHI (DH d'Gamar) explains that the reason why a Ben Peku'ah may not be used as a Korban Pesach is that any animal that does not exit through the womb of its mother ("Yotzei Dofen") is disqualified from being offered as a Korban, because the verse says, "Ki Yivaled" -- "when it will be born" (Vayikra 22:27).
There are a number of difficulties with the Gemara. Rav Ashi -- who says that a Ben Peku'ah may be used for Pidyon -- obviously maintains that there is no Gezeirah Shavah comparing Pidyon to Korban Pesach. However, this Gezeirah Shavah is taught explicitly in a Beraisa in Bechoros (12a), and it is discussed in Yoma (49b), where no one argues with it! Not only is it difficult to understand the view of Rav Asi, who says that according to the Chachamim a Ben Peku'ah may be used for Pidyon, but it is also difficult to understand the view of Rebbi Meir, who says that a Ben Peku'ah certainly may be used for Pidyon. How can it be used for Pidyon if the Gezeirah Shavah from Korban Pesach teaches that it cannot be used? (TIFERES YAKOV; see also TOSFOS DH d'Gamar.)
ANSWER: The TIFERES YAKOV explains that everyone agrees that the laws of Pidyon are derived from the Gezeirah Shavah to Korban Pesach. However, there is another verse -- "Tifdeh" -- that includes other types of Seh for Pidyon (which may not be used for the Korban Pesach). Mar Zutra says that even though the Gezeirah Shavah teaches that a Ben Peku'ah may not be used for Pidyon, the word "Tifdeh" teaches that the Seh does not have to be a male, one-year-old, unblemished animal.
Similarly, Rebbi Meir (and the Chachamim according to Rav Ashi) learn from the word "Tifdeh" that a Ben Peku'ah may be used for Pidyon. What, then, do they learn from the Gezeirah Shavah? They learn that when the Seh is an ordinary Seh, it may be used for Pidyon even though its birth was not natural (it is a "Yotzei Dofen"); the manner in which it was born does not affect its validity for Pidyon. The Gezeirah Shavah applies to things that change the actual Seh itself (a "Shinuy Gadol"), such as the law that the Korban Pesach must be a Seh and not an Egel, it must not have been slaughtered, and the law that it cannot be a Tereifah.
Rav Ashi and Mar Zutra argue as follows. Mar Zutra maintains that since a Ben Peku'ah does not need Shechitah to permit it to be eaten, it is "like meat in a bag" that was already slaughtered. This differs significantly from a Korban Pesach, which must not have been slaughtered before being brought as a Korban. The Gezeirah Shavah teaches that just as the Korban Pesach must not have been slaughtered, the Seh used for Pidyon must not have been slaughtered.
Rav Ashi maintains that since the Ben Peku'ah is alive and running around, it is an ordinary Seh, and it is like a "Yotzei Dofen," the laws of which are not learned from the Korban Pesach, and it is not disqualified (it is not a "Shinuy Gadol"). Although it is considered by Halachah as slaughtered, that state clearly is not an obvious, observable feature of this Seh. Rav Ashi therefore asks Mar Zutra that if the Gezeirah Shavah applies even to the indistinguishable features of the Seh, then it should also need to be male, one-year-old, and unblemished! Mar Zutra responds that "Tifdeh" teaches that these conditions do not apply to the Seh used for Pidyon. Rav Ashi counters that "Tifdeh," then, should permit any Seh to be used, even a Ben Peku'ah. Rather, "Tifdeh" teaches only that a Seh without a "Shinuy Gadol" may be used (such as a Seh that is not male, one-year-old, or unblemished, and, likewise, a Ben Peku'ah).
Mar Zutra responds that it is more appropriate to include a Ben Peku'ah in the Gezeirah Shavah, since it is considered like an animal that was slaughtered. (Alternatively, he maintains that the fact that a Ben Peku'ah is permitted without Shechitah is more of a "Shinuy Gadol" than a Seh that is not male, one-year-old, or unblemished.)