1) THE KNIFE USED FOR THE "SHECHITAH" OF A KORBAN
QUESTION: Rabah bar Ula (2b) explains that when the Mishnah states that "everyone may perform Shechitah," it is teaching that a person who is Tamei may slaughter an animal of Chulin that was prepared "Al Taharas ha'Kodesh" even l'Chatchilah, since he can slaughter the animal with a long knife and avoid touching the meat. When the Mishnah continues and says that "their Shechitah is valid," implying that it is valid only b'Di'eved, it refers to a Tamei person who slaughters an animal of Kodshim. He is not permitted to slaughter Kodshim l'Chatchilah because of the possibility that he might touch it and make it Tamei. However, if, b'Di'eved, he slaughters an animal of Kodshim and he attests that he is certain that he did not touch the animal, then the Shechitah is acceptable and the animal is not Tamei.
The Gemara asks that if the person is Tamei with Tum'as Mes, then using a long knife does not prevent the animal from becoming Tamei. The principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" causes the animal to become Tamei even without the person touching it. This principle teaches that a "Cherev" or other utensil that touched a corpse acquires the same degree of Tum'ah as the corpse, and it becomes an Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah. Similarly, if the utensil touched an Av ha'Tum'ah (such as a person who is Tamei with Tum'as Mes), it also becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah.
The Gemara answers that the Mishnah is discussing a Tamei person who examined the encasing of a reed ("Keromis Shel Kaneh") and slaughtered the animal with it. Such an object (a "Peshutei Kli Etz") does not transfer Tum'ah from the person to the animal, because it is not a proper utensil ("Kli") and cannot become Tamei.
Why is such a Shechitah acceptable? The Gemara in Zevachim (97b) and Menachos (82b) teaches that the Shechitah of a Korban requires a Kli, a proper utensil, such as a metal knife, and not a sharpened stone or reed. How can the Gemara here say that the Shechitah performed with a sharpened reed is acceptable?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Kegon) answers that the Gemara here refers to a reed that was prepared as a proper Kli. (Accordingly, Tosfos must rule like Rashi and Rabeinu Tam who say that the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" applies only to metal utensils and not to utensils made from other materials. See the following Insight.)
Tosfos adds that a Kli Shares (a consecrated utensil), however, is not required for Shechitah.
Tosfos quotes RABEINU EFRAIM who cites proof from the Mishnah in Zevachim (47a) that Shechitah does not require a Kli Shares. The Mishnah there states that "the Shechitah of Kodshei Kodashim is done in the northern part of the Azarah, and the blood is received in a Kli Shares in the northern part." The fact that the Mishnah does not say that the Shechitah is done with a Kli Shares implies that a Kli Shares is not necessary for the Shechitah.
Rabeinu Efraim gives a number of other proofs (as cited in his name by Tosfos in Zevachim 47a, DH Kodshei Kodashim). One of his proofs is the Gemara here that says that a person who is Tamei may slaughter a Korban with a sharpened reed, which clearly is not a Kli Shares. He also cites the Gemara in Pesachim (66a) that says that the people used to bring ordinary knives from their homes to slaughter the Korban Pesach.
(b) TOSFOS in Zevachim (ibid.), however, disagrees with Tosfos here and with Rabeinu Efraim and maintains that not only must a Korban be slaughtered with a proper Kli, it must be slaughtered with a Kli Shares. Tosfos cites a number of proofs for this requirement. One of his proofs is the Gemara in Sotah (14b) that states that the blood of the Korban becomes sanctified through the knife. This implies that the knife is a Kli Shares. Similarly, the Gemara in Menachos (78b) says that the knife used for the Shechitah of the Korban Todah is Mekadesh the Lachmei Todah, just as a Kli Shares is Mekadesh the blood that is put into it.
RASHI in Zevachim (98a, DH Ela Sakin) also says that Shechitah requires a knife that is a Kli Shares. (See, however, Rashi in Menachos 82b, DH Sakin, who implies that only a Kli is necessary for Shechitah (as opposed to performing Shechitah with one's hands, in the manner that Melikah is done), but a Kli Shares is not necessary. This might provide support to those who assert that Rashi Kesav Yad in Menachos is the authentic commentary of Rashi, and not the commentary that appears on the upper half of the page.)
Why, then, does the Gemara here say that Shechitah with a sharpened reed is valid? Tosfos answers that the Gemara here follows the view of Rebbi Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah (Sotah 14b and Sukah 50b) who says that a Kli Shares may be made of wood. Accordingly, the sharpened reed that the Tamei person uses is a Kli Shares.
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 4:7) rules that, l'Chatchilah, a Kli Shares should be used for the Shechitah of a Korban, but, b'Di'eved, the Shechitah is valid even if the Shechitah is performed without a Kli at all but with a sharpened reed (see LECHEM MISHNEH there). The Rambam learns that when the Gemara implies that a Kli Shares is necessary for Shechitah, the Gemara means that it is required only l'Chatchilah.
The MINCHAS CHINUCH (#95) quotes the ruling of the Gemara (and the Rambam in Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 1:14-15) that any consecrated utensils of the Beis ha'Mikdash that became cracked or broken should not be mended, but rather new Kelim should be made and the old ones placed in Genizah. Similarly, the Gemara says that a knife that became dented or blunted should not be sharpened; rather, it should be placed in Genizah and replaced with a new knife. This is because of the principle, "Ein Aniyus b'Makom Ashirus" (the Beis ha'Mikdash is a place of honor and veneration, and thus only the finest utensils should be used). The fact that old knives used for Shechitah of Kodshim must be placed in Genizah implies that the knife used for Shechitah must be a Kli Shares.
However, the Minchas Chinuch concludes that it is possible to refute this proof ("Yesh Lidchos"). Perhaps when the Gemara says that an old knife should be placed in Genizah, it refers to a knife that happened to be a Kli Shares. It does not mean that only a knife that is a Kli Shares may be used for Shechitah. (D. BLOOM)
(For further discussion of these opinions, refer to DAF's Audio Shi'ur to Zevachim 47, "The Shechitah Knife of Korbanos.")
2) "CHEREV HAREI HU K'CHALAL"
OPINIONS: The Torah teaches that certain objects acquire the same level of Tum'as Mes as the object which they touched and which gave them the Tum'ah. This principle is called "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" (literally, "a sword is like a corpse"; see previous Insight). It is derived from the verse, "And whoever touches... a corpse slain with a sword (ba'Chalal Cherev) or a dead body... shall be Tamei for seven days" (Bamidbar 19:16). This principle teaches that a "sword" or other utensil that touched a corpse acquires the same degree of Tum'ah as the corpse, and it becomes an Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah. Similarly, if a utensil touched an Av ha'Tum'ah, it becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah.
Does this principle apply only to metal utensils, such as a sword, or also to utensils made from other types of material?
(a) RASHI here (DH Cherev) explains that this principle applies only to metal objects, similar to the "Cherev" mentioned in the verse from which this principle is derived. This principle does not apply to any other type of utensil. All other types of objects that touch a corpse (or an Av ha'Tum'ah) descend a degree of Tum'ah from the Tum'ah of the object they touched. This is also the opinion of RABEINU TAM (Nazir 54b, Tosfos DH Ta Shema) and the RASH (Ohalos 1:3).
(b) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos to Ohalos 1:3; Hilchos Tum'as Mes 5:3) and RABEINU YITZCHAK ME'SIMPONTI assert that this principle applies to all types of utensils. Even non-metal utensils acquire the same degree of Tum'ah as the object they touched. These Rishonim cite proof from the Toras Kohanim, which derives from the law of the clothing upon a person who touches a corpse that one utensil that touches another utensil which is an Av ha'Tum'ah also becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah. The Torah teaches that the clothing of a person who touches a corpse becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah, just like the person himself who touches the corpse. This law demonstrates that even non-metal utensils (clothing) become an Av ha'Tum'ah when they touch an Av ha'Tum'ah. (Rabeinu Tam in Nazir (54b), who maintains that only metal utensils become Tamei with the same Tum'ah as the object they touched, argues that when the Toras Kohanim says that the clothing of the person becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah, it refers to metal ornaments and jewelry that the person is wearing.)
(c) The GE'ONIM (cited by Rabeinu Chananel to Pesachim 14b) and RABEINU YITZCHAK ME'SIMPONTI in his second explanation (as cited by the Rash to Ohalos 1:3) explain that the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" applies only to the object that actually killed the person. That object becomes Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah. No other object (not even a metal object) becomes Tamei with the same degree of Tum'ah as the object it touched.
This opinion obviously maintains that the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" does not apply to an Av ha'Tum'ah, since an Av ha'Tum'ah has not been murdered (a dead body is always an Avi Avos ha'Tum'ah). However, the Mishnah in Pesachim (14a) clearly says that even a utensil that touches an Av ha'Tum'ah becomes an Av ha'Tum'ah. How does this opinion explain the Mishnah there?
From the words of Rabeinu Chananel and the Rash, it appears that according to this opinion it is not the principle of "Cherev Harei Hu k'Chalal" that makes the utensil an Av ha'Tum'ah when it touches an Av ha'Tum'ah. Rather, it is a different principle -- the principle of "Chiburin." This principle teaches that while an object is touching an Av ha'Tum'ah (and not after it is removed from the Av ha'Tum'ah), it is considered an Av ha'Tum'ah to make whatever touches it at that moment a Rishon l'Tum'ah. This Halachah applies to all utensils except earthenware (similar Halachos exist with regard to touching an object that is presently touching a Zav or a Mishkav of a Zav). This is the Tum'ah that the Toras Kohanim derives from the clothing on a person who touches a corpse; since his clothes were touching him at the time that he touched the corpse, they acquire the Tum'ah that he has, an Av ha'Tum'ah. This also appears to be the opinion of the RA'AVAD (Hilchos Tum'as Mes 5:3). (See also Insights to Pesachim 14:2.)
3) WHY MUST ONE BE "MUCHZAK" IN ORDER TO BE A "SHOCHET"
QUESTION: Ravina explains that when the Mishnah states that "everyone may perform Shechitah," it is teaching that a person who is known to be an expert in the laws of Shechitah ("Mumcheh") may slaughter an animal even if he is not yet "Muchzak" to slaughter an animal without fainting (a Shochet becomes Muchzak by slaughtering three animals in the presence of others). RASHI (DH Af Al Pi) explains that there are two problems with a person who is not Muchzak as a Shochet. The first concern is that one who is not Muchzak might become queasy and feel faint, and thereby ruin the Shechitah. The second concern is that his hands might not be proficient in the skill of slaughtering.
The Gemara later explains that the Amora'im who argue with Ravina's explanation of the Mishnah maintain that there is no concern that the Shochet will faint. The Gemara, however, does not mention how those Amora'im address the second concern of not being Muchzak -- that the Shochet's hands might not be proficient in slaughtering. Even if there is no concern that he will faint, there remains a concern that his hands might slip and ruin the Shechitah. Why, then, do the other Amora'im not agree with Ravina?
ANSWER: The BEIS YOSEF (YD 1) explains that when the Gemara says that the other Amora'im are not concerned that the Shochet will faint, it means that they maintain that since the Shochet is a Mumcheh, he will inform us if there is any problem with his Shechitah. Therefore, unless he notifies us otherwise, we may assume with certainty that there was no problem with his Shechitah, and that he did not faint and his hands did not slip.
(However, a more basic question on Rashi still remains. The fact that the Gemara makes no mention of the Shochet's physical control over the motions of Shechitah implies that the only concern is that the Shochet might faint. Why, then, does Rashi find it necessary to introduce a second concern for why the Shochet must be Muchzak?) (Z. Wainstein)
4) TESTING A "SHOCHET"
QUESTION: Ravina explains that when the Mishnah states that "everyone may perform Shechitah," it is teaching that a person who is known to be an expert in the laws of Shechitah may slaughter an animal even if he is not yet "Muchzak" to slaughter an animal without fainting (a Shochet becomes Muchzak by slaughtering three animals in the presence of others). When the Mishnah continues and says that "their Shechitah is valid," implying that it is valid only b'Di'eved, it refers to a person who is not known to be an expert in the laws of Shechitah. He is not permitted to slaughter an animal l'Chatchilah, but if he did slaughter one, he is tested for knowledge of the laws of Shechitah, and if he demonstrates erudition in the laws of Shechitah his Shechitah is valid.
The Gemara later explains that the reason why the other Amora'im do not explain the Mishnah as Ravina does is that they maintain that there is no need to determine the expertise of a Shochet; there is a principle that "Rov Metzuyin Etzel Shechitah Mumchin Hen" -- most people involved with Shechitah are experts. Apparently, Ravina does not agree with this principle. However, this principle is recorded in a Beraisa later (12a). The Beraisa states that if one finds a slaughtered chicken in the public marketplace, he may assume that the chicken was slaughtered properly, because "Rov Metzuyin Etzel Shechitah Mumchin Hen" -- most people involved with Shechitah are experts. How does Ravina understand the Beraisa that clearly contradicts him?
(a) TOSFOS (DH v'Im) answers that the Gemara later records the opinions of other Tana'im who disagree with the Beraisa and who do not agree with the principle of "Rov Metzuyin Etzel Shechitah Mumchin Hen." Ravina follows the view of those Tana'im and not the view of the Beraisa.
(b) The SHACH (YD 1:5) cites the RA'AVAN who explains that Ravina requires that the Shochet be tested only when the Shochet is readily available and we are able to test him. When the Shochet is not present, and it is not feasible to retrieve him, Ravina agrees that the meat of his Shechitah is permitted because of the principle of "Rov Metzuyin Etzel Shechitah Mumchin Hen."
The intention of the Ra'avan may be understood based on the words of the MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 437:4). The Halachah is that one who rents a house on Erev Pesach (the fourteenth of Nisan), and does not know whether or not the house was checked for Chametz, is required to ask the landlord if the house was checked. However, if the landlord is out of town, then the tenant may rely on the Chazakah that the landlord checked the house, since he rented it after the night of the fourteenth of Nisan (when the Mitzvah of Bedikas Chametz takes effect). The reason why the tenant is required to ask the landlord if possible is that we do not rely on a Chazakah when it is possible to clarify the matter. The Magen Avraham writes that this principle is found in the laws of Shechitah, which require that the Shochet's knowledge be tested if possible, even though the majority of Shochtim are experts. Since it is possible to clarify his expertise without relying on a Rov, we are required to do so.
However, the requirement to clarify the situation without relying on a Rov applies only when the situation, in its present state, presents a Chazakah that would prohibit the object. That is, there is a Chazakah that every house contains Chametz, since it is used for Chametz throughout the year. Therefore, the tenant must clarify, if possible, with the landlord that Bedikas Chametz was performed and not rely on the Rov. Similarly, we must determine that the Shochet was an expert, and not rely on the Rov, because before the animal was slaughtered it had a Chazakah that it was forbidden to be eaten. (Before Shechitah, the animal is forbidden to be eaten because of Ever Min ha'Chai.) Since there is a Chazakah that prohibits the item, and this Chazakah opposes the Rov that permits the item, we must clarify that the Shechitah was done properly by testing the Shochet. In contrast, when an animal was slaughtered by an expert Shochet, there is no requirement to examine all of the limbs and innards of the animal to ensure that it is not a Tereifah. This is because every animal has a Chazakah that it is not a Tereifah, and therefore there is no requirement to clarify through examination that the animal is not a Tereifah. (D. BLOOM) (See CHIDUSHEI CHASAM SOFER here, DH Rov; see also Insights to Bava Kama 99:3.)
5) DETERMINING THE PROFICIENCY OF A "SHOCHET"
QUESTION: The Gemara records a second version of Ravina's explanation of the Mishnah. According to this version, Ravina explains that when the Mishnah states that "everyone may perform Shechitah," it is teaching that a person who has become "Muchzak" to slaughter an animal without fainting may slaughter l'Chatchilah, even though we do not know whether or not he is an expert in the laws of Shechitah. However, he must have become Muchzak by having performed Shechitah "two or three times" in front of us.
Why does Ravina say that a Shochet becomes Muchzak by performing Shechitah "two or three times" in front of us? Since he becomes Muchzak by performing Shechitah two times in front of us, it is not necessary for him to perform Shechitah "three times"!
Moreover, the number that is generally necessary in order to establish a Chazakah is three; two times does not suffice (Yevamos 64b). Why does two times suffice to prove a Shochet's proficiency?
(a) The RITVA answers that the Gemara is using a colloquial terminology. It really means that the Shochet must perform Shechitah three times in order to become Muchzak.
(b) The Ritva answers further that the Gemara says that the Shochet becomes Muchzak by slaughtering "two or three" times because it does not want to take sides in the argument between Rebbi and Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, who argue (in Yevamos 64b) about how many times an event must occur in order to establish a Chazakah. Raban Shimon ben Gamliel says that a Chazakah is established after three times, and Rebbi says that a Chazakah is established after two times.
(c) The MA'ADANEI YOM TOV (5:1) answers that a certain type of Shochet becomes Muchzak after performing Shechitah twice, while another type of Shochet becomes Muchzak only after performing Shechitah three times. If the Shochet is a strong person, then it suffices for him to perform Shechitah twice. If he is a weaker person, then he needs to perform Shechitah three times in order to become Muchzak.
It is interesting to note that the RAMBAM (Hilchos Shechitah 4:2) writes that the Shochet must perform Shechitah "four or five" times. It is not clear why the Rambam requires four or five acts of Shechitah in order to become Muchzak when the Gemara mentions only two or three. Perhaps the Rambam maintains that one must keep practicing until he feels absolutely no queasiness at all. The Halachic instrument of Chazakah does not apply in this case; a Shochet becomes Muchzak only when, in reality, he has no queasiness. This might happen after only "two or three" times, or after "four or five" times. Perhaps this is also the intention of the Ma'adanei Yom Tov as well. (M. KORNFELD, Z. Wainstein)
6) THE OPINION THAT "CHULIN SHE'NA'ASU AL TAHARAS HA'KODESH" IS NOT TREATED LIKE "KODESH"
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the reason why the other Amora'im do not explain the Mishnah in the same way that Rabah bar Ula does (that the Mishnah is teaching that a person who is Tamei may slaughter, l'Chatchilah, an animal of Chulin that was prepared "Al Taharas ha'Kodesh") is that they maintain that Chulin prepared "Al Taharas ha'Kodesh" is not treated like Kodesh, but rather it is like ordinary Chulin, and thus it is obvious that a Tamei person may slaughter such an animal. The Mishnah would not teach something that is obvious.
Perhaps, however, this itself is the Chidush of the Mishnah. Perhaps the Mishnah is teaching that Chulin that was prepared "Al Taharas ha'Kodesh" is not treated like Kodesh, and that is why a Tamei person may slaughter such an animal. (PORAS YOSEF, TIFERES YAKOV, CHIDUSHEI RAV YESHAYAH BERLIN)
ANSWER: The Chidush of the Mishnah cannot be that Chulin that was prepared "Al Taharas ha'Kodesh" is not treated like Kodesh. If the Mishnah is saying that a Tamei person is allowed to slaughter such an animal l'Chatchilah, then we would not know whether it is because Chulin prepared "Al Taharas ha'Chodesh" is not like Kodesh (and a Tamei person may use a short knife, and there is no concern that he might touch the animal), or whether it is because it is like Kodesh (and he must use a long knife to avoid touching it). The Mishnah would have to make it clear that it means that the Tamei person may use a short knife, in order to contrast this Halachah with the Halachah mentioned at the end of the Mishnah with regard to a Tamei person who slaughters real Kodshim. The Mishnah's words imply that the only difference between the two Halachos is that one type of animal may be slaughtered by a Tamei person l'Chatchilah, while the other is valid only b'Di'eved, and not that the Tamei may use a short knife for one but must use a long knife for the other. (M. KORNFELD)