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Bechorot - Perek 6

Bechorot - Perek 6

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Halacha 1

It is a positive commandment to separate one out of every ten kosher animals, which are born to a person each year. This mitzvah applies only to cattle and sheep, as Leviticus 27:32 states: "All the tithes of your cattle and sheep...."

Halacha 2

The tithing of animals applies with regard to ordinary animals, but not to consecrated ones. It applies in Eretz Yisrael and in the Diaspora, in the era that the Temple was standing and in the era when the Temple is not standing. Nevertheless, our Sages forbade tithing animals in the present era and ordained that they should be tithed only when the Temple is standing. This is a decree, lest the consecrated animal be eaten when it is unblemished and thus one will be violating a transgression punishable by karet: slaughtering consecrated animals outside the Temple Courtyard. If one transgressed and tithed in the present era, the animal is designated as a tithe offering and should be eaten after it contracts a disqualifying blemish.

Halacha 3

All are obligated in the tithing of their animals: priests, Levites, and Israelites.

Halacha 4

The laws applying to a tithe offering of an animal are that it should be slaughtered in the Temple Courtyard and its blood cast in one heave towards the Altar's base. Its organs and fats are offered on the altar's pyre and the remainder of the meat is eaten by the owner in Jerusalem like other sacrifices of a lesser degree of sanctity. The priests do not receive any portion of it. Instead, it is given to its owner in its entirety, like the Paschal sacrifice.

If it was blemished, whether it became blemished after it was designated or it was blemished when it was set aside, it may be eaten in any place.

Halacha 5

It is forbidden to sell an animal designated as a tithe offering when it is unblemished, for Leviticus 27:33 states with regard to it: "It shall not be redeemed." According to the Oral Tradition, the phrase "It shall not be redeemed" also implies a prohibition against selling it; it is neither redeemed, nor sold at all.

It appears to me that when one sells an animal designated as a tithe offering, the sale is of no consequence and the animal is not acquired by the purchaser. For this reason, the seller is not liable for lashes like one who sells property designated as a dedication offering to the priests, in which instance, the purchaser does not acquire it, or like one who sells a female captive, as will be explained in its place.

Halacha 6

According to Rabbinic Law, it is forbidden to sell an animal designated as a tithe offering when it is blemished and even when it is slaughtered. This is a decree, lest one sell such an animal when it is alive. For this reason, we may not weigh one portion against another, as is done when weighing portions of a firstborn animal, because it appears as if he is selling it.

Halacha 7

An animal designated as a tithe offering that belongs to orphans is permitted to be sold in an ordinary manner after being slaughtered when blemished. To prevent the orphans from suffering a loss, our Sages did not uphold their decree in this instance.

Halacha 8

When an animal designated as a tithe offering is slaughtered when blemished, it is permitted to sell its fats, sinews, hide, and bones. Only the sale of its meat was prohibited. If one included the price for its meat together with the price for its hide, fats, and sinews and sold everything in a collective price, the sale is permitted. If the price of the bones was high and he included the price of the meat in the price of the bones, it is permitted.

Halacha 9

Anyone's word is accepted with regard to the blemishes of animals designated as tithe offerings if he says: "This blemish came about on its own accord; it was not brought about intentionally." Even the statements of those individuals whose word is not accepted with regard to the blemishes of a firstborn animal are accepted with regard to an animal designated as a tithe offering. Moreover, a person may inspect the blemishes of his animals designated as tithe offerings and permit their slaughter if he is an expert. The rationale for these leniencies is that if a person desired, he could have blemished every animal in his flock and then tithed them. Thus from the outset, the tithed animal would be blemished.

Halacha 10

When a person purchases lambs that were born this year or they were given to him as a present, he is not obligated to tithe them. The obligation applies only when the animals are born in his domain. Accordingly, if partners enter into a partnership with regard to animals: one brings 100 and the other brings 100 and they have them intermingle and own them jointly, these 200 are exempt from the requirement to tithe. The rationale is that each of the lambs is considered as having been sold. Similarly, if brothers inherit lambs in their first year of life from their father, they are exempt from the requirement to tithe.

The offspring born to the partners or the brothers after the partnership was established, by contrast, from their jointly owned animals are obligated to be tithed. Similarly, if a partnership was established with money or brothers purchased animals from the funds of the estate, the offspring born afterwards are obligated to be tithed, for they were born in their domain and they are considered as one person.

If the brothers and the partners divided their property after animals were born to them in their joint domain and then reestablished their partnership, the animals born previously are exempt from the requirement to tithe. The rationale is that when the assets of the partnership or the estate were divided, everything is considered as having been sold and animals that are sold are exempt. And when the partnership was reestablished, no new offspring was born to them afterwards. Even though they divided kids for kids and lambs for lambs, and even if they divided them by tens, they are all exempt from the tithes and considered as having been purchased.

Halacha 11

When brothers and partners divided the financial assets of the partnership, but did not divide the animals, the animals are obligated to be tithed, for they are not considered as having been purchased yet. If, however, the animals of the partnership were divided even though the financial assets were not, the offspring are exempt.

Halacha 12

When a person purchases ten unborn fetuses in their mother's womb,they all enter the corral for tithing, for they were born in his domain.

Halacha 13

When a priest received ten newborn animals because of the return of property stolen from a convert, they are exempt from the tithes. The rationale is that the priestly presents are comparable to ordinary presents. And we already explainedthat when one gives a present, it is exempt from the tithes.

Halacha 14

All the animals in one's herd are brought into the corral for tithing,whether they are unblemished or blemished, even those which are forbidden to be offered on the altar with the exception of hybrids, animals that are tereifah,born through Caesarian section, or "lacking in age." For all of these are exempt from the tithes.

Similarly, an animal whose mother died or was slaughtered when it was born should not be tithed. These concepts are part of the Oral Tradition.

Halacha 15

A purchaser is not exempt from the obligation to tithe unless he purchased the animals after they were fit to be tithed. Therefore one who purchases lambs in the seven days after their birth, is obligated to tithe them when the time comes.Since an animal that is "lacking in age" is not fit to be tithed, it is as if he purchased a fetus and it was born in his domain.

Halacha 16

Whenever there is a doubt whether an animal is obligated to be tithed or exempt from being tithed, it is exempt from being tithed. Therefore when an orphaned lamb, a purchased one, or the like becomes intermingled with other lambs, they are all exempt from the tithes, because the status of each one of them is in doubt.

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