Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chullin Starting!!! Join thousands!!!

Tractate Chulin: Hakol Shochatin

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

With Hashem’s help we have finished Menachos and now we pass from the realm of kodshim to the realm of chullin - the mundane. Chullin is one of the longest tractates in the Talmud and its sugyos treat practical and most important subjects. It is one of the most varied tractates as it addresses a number of utterly different topics and therefore learners find much interest and satisfaction because of the many concepts they discover.

The tractate before us: First we shall learn the details of slaughtering, without which an animal is a neveilah. In the third chapter we shall learn about the signs of treifah and the signs of kashrus of land animals, fish and locusts. In the next chapter we shall complete different details of the topics learnt in the previous chapters and especially concerning the embryo of a slaughtered animal (ben peku’ah) and the impurity of a neveilah. Further on, the chapters are full of different subjects accompanying slaughtering and kashrus. In Chapter 5 we shall examine the details of the negative mitzvah not to slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day and in the next chapter we shall explore the mitzvah to cover up the blood of a slaughtered wild animal or fowl. In Chapter 7 we shall learn about the prohibition of gid hanasheh and Chapter 8 is devoted to the prohibition of meat and milk. In these chapters we shall also become aware of the great questions of mixtures. The halachos of a limb from a live animal and the impurity of a neveilah are detailed in Chapter 9 and in Chapter 10 and 11 we shall learn halachos concerning gifts to kohanim. The final chapter addresses the mitzvah of shiluach haken (chasing away a mother bird before taking its eggs).

After we finish chullin, we shall again learn about kodshim. chullin is like an island of matters of mundane meat among the tractates dealing with kodshim and some say that it is therefore called chullin or Shechitas chullin, as Rashi often calls it. Rambam (in the preface to his commentary on the Mishnah) explains that chullin was placed after Zevachim and Menachos because the Torah also treats the halachos of sacrifices and then addresses eating mundane meat: “Yet as much as you desire you shall slaughter and eat meat” (Devarim 12:15).

Who is fit to be a shochet?

In the first paragraph of the first chapter of Yoreh De’ah the Remo details who is fit to serve as a shochet: “He shouldn’t slaughter, though he is an expert and knows the halachos of shechitah, till he slaughters three times before a chacham expert in the halachos of shechitah, so that he knows that he is expert and will not faint (Tur in the name of Rambam). Therefore, we are accustomed that no one slaughters unless he received a kabalah (approval to slaughter) from a chacham. The chacham does not grant him a kabalah unless he knows that he knows the halachos of shechitah and is expert with his hands. Therefore we are accustomed to rely on anyone who comes to slaughter (that he surely received a kabalah)… and in some places they have the custom to be stricter, that the recipient takes a written kabalah as proof. Every shochet, though he has a kabalah, should review the halachos of shechitah from time to time, that he should be expert in them not to forget them (Rav Yaakov HaLevi in the name of the Maharash). The same applies to the halachos of examining the lungs and to the bodeik - the person who examines - their halachah and custom are equal in this entire matter. And the beis din should inspect the bodekim and shochetim to see that they should be expert and kosher (Mahariu, 50) for the hazard of any transgression concerning shechitah and bedikah, accessible to everyone, is immense.”

How often must he review of the halachos of shechitah: When the Remo said “from time to time”, he meant that a shochet should review the halachos every month! (Baer Heiteiv, S.K. 8). Beer HaGolah wrote in the Maharil’s name that during the first 30 days of his position a shochet should review the halachos of slaughtering and examination every day. After the first 30 days he should review them every 30 days and when he completes his first year, he should review them once in a while but if he doesn’t do so, his slaughtering is disqualified!

ShUB: shochet ubodek: It has always been known that a shochet must be an outstandingly G-d-fearing person and the title Shub, the initials of shochet ubodek is a source of pride to many, such that some adopted it as their family name. The need for an outstandingly G-d-fearing slaughterer is not mere stringency but concerns the basic halachos of slaughtering, as follows.

The three phases of shechitah: The process of rendering an animal fit to eat by shechitah consists of three phases: (1) examining the knife, (2) slaughtering, (3) examining the lungs.

Examining the knife: Rabeinu Yonah writes in his Sha’arei Teshuvah (sha’ar 3, os 96) that examining the knife demands extreme scrupulous care: “And regarding someone who is not conscientious, his heart will not understand to be meticulous about examining the knife for he must greatly concentrate all his attention on his examination. You will see that a person sometimes checks two or three times without detecting a slight fault and then he finds it, for he concentrated the last time.” Indeed, the task of examining the knife was given to the chacham or Rabbi and a shochet who didn’t show his knife to the Rabbi before slaughtering would be ostracized (chullin 18a)! Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 18:17) maintains that in later eras the custom arose to appoint special people for this task and the Rabbi relinquishes his honor to them as they are scrupulously careful. In fact, the author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav (18, Kuntres Acharon, S.K. 9) maintains that the Rabbanim only relinquished their honor for G-d-fearing people but others are not allowed to examine knives!

Slaughtering: One witness is believed regarding prohibitions (chullin 10b), as opposed to halachos of property and marriage, which require at least two witnesses. According to the Reem, one witness is still not believed to testify that an animal was properly slaughtered as, opposing his testimony there is a chazakah (previous knowledge) of prohibition to eat the (unslaughtered) animal, and one witness is not believed against a chazakah. Only a witness known to be faithful and kosher may testify (Mordechai, chullin, §579). There is therefore a need for a G-d-fearing shochet because otherwise, if he slaughtered an animal alone, he is not believed to testify that he slaughtered it properly. We emphasize that the Reem’s opinion was not accepted as halachah (see Pri Megadim in the preface and „Aroch HaShulchan, 4). But all the poskim repeatedly warn that we must eat from the shechitah of a G-d-fearing and scrupulous shochet, as Baer Heiteiv asserts (S.K. 29): “Not to give a kabalah to anyone who is frivolous but only to the G-d-fearing.”

Examining the lungs: An examination of the lungs is conducted to eliminate the possibility of a hole or another disorder of the lung, rendering the animal treifah. Though most animals are not treifah, one must examine the lungs because of the frequency of treifos (Shach, ibid) and Shulchan Aruch warns (Y.D. 39:1): “Anyone who breaches the fence - to eat without examination - should be bitten by a snake.”

Only the G-d-fearing may be lenient: Regarding two types of suspected treifah that could occur in a lung, Shulchan Aruch states (ibid, se’if 11 and 13) that in certain instances we may be lenient but he limits his statement: “We rely on this leniency only in case of an outstandingly G-d-fearing and kosher examiner.” We thus see that the need for an outstandingly G-d-fearing ShuB is essential, as otherwise one must not be lenient.


A Fast

The Chasam Sofer zt”l decreed a fast in his yeshivah before learning chullin according to Sefer Chasidim (261 and 1012; Mekor Chesed on Sefer Chasidim, 261, remark 6). Some believe that the reason is because of the danger that arises when a person demonstrates the matters of slaughtering and treifos on his own body (Sichas chullin in the preface, according to the Maharsha, Gitin, end of 57b).

What Is an Outstandingly G-d-fearing Person?

As explained in the article “Who Is Fit to Slaughter”, a shochet must be an outstandingly G-d-fearing person (yerei shamayim meirabim). People say in the name of the Belzer Rebbe that an outstandingly G-d-fearing person means that he must practice every stringency practiced by two people in his town as the least number of rabim (many) is two!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Last Daf in Menachos - learning about the sacrifices

Anyone who learns about the chatas is as though he sacrificed it

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

With the conclusion of Menachos the Gemora teaches us: “Rabbi Yitzchak said, “…Anyone who learns about the chatas is as though he sacrificed it and anyone who learns about the asham is as though he sacrificed an asham.”

The Tur wrote (O.C. 1) that one had well say the parshah of the sacrifices every day and after saying the verses of the sacrifce one should say “May it be Your will” that saying the verses should be accepted as though the sacrifice were offered (see an expansion of this topic in the article “The parallel between saying korbanos and offering sacrifices” in Vol. 224).

Temporary atonement: Many sugyos indicate that even one who says the parshyos of the sacrifices devotedly does not become exempt from the obligation of his sacrifice and when the Temple will be built, he must offer them. Saying korbanos is temporary atonement, “as though he offered”, but he is surely not exempt from the Torah’s obligation (Responsa Har Tzvi, O.C. 1; Bnei Yisaschar, Maamar Rosh Chodesh, maamar 2, os 8; Responsa Torah Shleimah, 120; and see Kemotzei Shalal Rav, parshas Tzav).

Apropos, as we approach the end of Menachos, we mention two augmentive tidbits to explain Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha’s famous words when once, on Shabbos, he tilted a light unintentionally and wrote down “I, Yishmael ben Elisha, read and tilted a light on Shabbos; when the Temple will be built, I’ll bring a fat chatas” (Shabbos 12b). Why wasn’t he satisfied with reading the parashah of the chatas?

Saying korbanos lacks the advantage of the kohanim’s eating:. The author of Yeshu’os Ya’akov (O.C. 1) wrote in the name of the Rishonim that as the atonement of the chatas is also achieved by the kohanim’s eating – “kohanim eat and the owners are atoned” (Pesachim 59b) – hence by saying the verses of the chatas we do not achieve that same level accomplished by offering the sacrifice. This is also the reason, he adds, that Rabbi Yishmael undertook a fat chatas – to emphasize the inability to make up for the kohanim’s part by saying the verses.

By saying the verses we do not achieve the advantage of an embellished sacrifice: Rabbi Yitzchak Shvadron, the Maharsham’s son, solved this question in the following manner (in the preface to Responsa Maharsham, II, os 32). A few times we have already cited the halachah mentioned by Rambam (Hilchos Isurei Mizbeiach 1:1): “It is a positive mitzvah that all the sacrifices should be perfect and choice, as we are told: „It should be perfect for a good will. This is a positive mitzvah.” It is obvious that though saying the verses of the sacrifices is considered like offering them, it can never achieve the level of observing the mitzvah with embellishment such as offering a fat sacrifice. This is what Rabbi Yishmael meant when he said “I’ll bring a fat chatas.”

Still, saying the verses of the sacrifices has advantages over their being offered. The first is if a person has a doubt as to if he committed a transgression unintentionally, he is forbidden to bring a sacrifice because of the doubt but he may say the appropriate verses and that is considered his atonement (Responsa Har Tzvi, ibid; see ibid, that he proves so from the Tur).

Saying korbanos atones for intentional sins: The Bnei Yisachar of Dinov zt”l tells of the second advantage (in the preface to his Derech Pikudecha, preface 5, os 8; cf Rabeinu Yonah to Rif, Berachos 3a, s.v. kivan), that saying korbanos can atone for intentional sins! This is based on Chazal’s statement (Taanis 27a, etc.) that Avraham said, “Ribono shel ‘olam…when there’s no Temple what will be with them?” He told him, “I already arranged the order of korbanos. When they read them before Me, I attribute to them as though they offered them and forgive them all their sins (‘avonoseihem).” An ‘avon is an intentional sin. We thus see that learning the verses of the sacrifices can ease atonement for intentional sins (Kemotzei Shalal Rav, ibid).

Hadran Aloch Maseches Menachos. We shall review it and learn about the sacrifices to atone for us before Hashem.



It is told about HaGaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo, I, Ch. 6, remarks 20 and 24) that he took care to come ten minutes before the start of prayers to say birchos hashachar and korbanos patiently and pleasantly. He told to those who asked to at least be careful to say the parshah of the tamid and the ketores (incense). If he didn’t say them before prayers, it is fitting to say the parshah of the tamid after prayers but not the ketores as they already said it at the end of the prayer. He was unsatisfied that people were careless about saying korbanos and would urge his pupils to heed such and in cheider the pupils should be taught to say at least part of korbanos.

A Minchah:
 Like a Body Without a Soul

At the start of Menachos (Vol. 228) we cited the following peninah: The pupils of HaGaon Rav Chayim of Volozhin zt”l write in the name of their mentor: Prayer resembles the tamid. “Prayer without concentration is like a body without a soul.” This means that prayer without concentration does not have the advantage of an animal sacrifice, which has a soul, but the advantage of a minchah, which is “a body without a soul” (Tosefes Ma’aseh Rav, 12; Keser Rosh, 22; Beiurei Rabeinu Chayim MiVolozhin, 163).

A reader sent us an interesting addition which he heard from HaGaon HaTzadik Rav Gedalyah Eiseman, mashgiach of Kol Torah Yeshivah. Chazal’s satement, that prayer without concentration is like a body without a soul, denegrates the value of such prayer while Rav Chayim’s statement apparently enlivens it as he treats such prayer as a minchah! However, a minchah was offered by a poor person who could not afford to offer an animal. From such a person, who is not able to pray with concentration, his prayer is accepted like a minchah. But someone who could have prayed with concentration should not expect his prayer to be regarded…

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