BECHOROS 19 (1 Iyar) - Dedicated by Ari Friedman and family of Lawrence, N.Y., l'Iluy Nishmas Ari's father, Reb Yakov Yosef ben Rav Nosson Neta Z'L Friedman in honor of his Yahrzeit. Jack Friedman exemplified true Ahavas Yisrael and Ahavas Chesed; may he be a Melitz Yosher for his children and grandchildren and for all of Klal Israel.
1) A "BECHOR" BORN THROUGH CAESARIAN SECTION
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 born 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 about whether an animal that is considered 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 about whether a Yotzei Dofen is a Bechor? The Torah states explicitly that the Bechor must be "Peter Rechem" (Shemos 13:12). A Yotzei Dofen certainly should be exempt!
ANSWER: The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Bechoros 2:4) resolves this question by offering an original interpretation for the verse. When the verse says, "Every firstborn (Peter Rechem) shall be for Hash-m," 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), a reference 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 be given to a Kohen like an ordinary Bechor.
the next part of the verse says, "ha'Zecharim la'Hashem" -- "the males shall be for Hash-m." The Or Same'ach explains 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 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. 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 be left to graze is that he is in doubt about whether this is the accurate interpretation of the verse.)
The Or Same'ach adds that this explanation resolves the question of TOSFOS here (DH Reisha). Tosfos asks that even if the first baby was a female born through a Caesarian section, Rebbi Tarfon should 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 certainly is 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 to be a Korban, as the Gemara in Chulin (38b) derives from Vayikra 22:27.) (D. BLOOM)
2) WHEN DOES A COW BEAR ITS FIRST CHILD?
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that according to Rebbi Yishmael, when one buys a cow from a Nochri and does not know whether the cow has ever given birth before, if the cow is under three years old he may assume that it has never given birth before and the next birth may be assumed to be its first one. This is because a cow cannot bear young before it is three years old.
TOSFOS in Avodah Zarah (24b, DH Parah) asks that it is an everyday occurrence that a two-year-old cow bears living offspring.
ANSWER: TOSFOS answers that apparently the nature of animals has changed since the times of the Gemara, just as other elements of the natural world seem to have changed since the times of the Gemara. The Gemara in Moed Katan (11a) relates that the most beneficial time to eat fish is just before they spoil. Tosfos there (DH Kivra) points out that in his days, it was considered life-threatening to eat fish just before they spoil. Apparently, Tosfos concludes, the nature of spoiled fish has changed since the times of the Gemara.
Tosfos adds that for this reason, one should not expect the remedies prescribed by the Gemara for various ailments (see Gitin 69a, and Insights to Gitin 69:1) to successfully provide relief to those ailments in our times.