There are five factors that disqualify ritual slaughter and the fundamentals of the laws of shechitah are to guard against each of these factors: They are: shehiyah, dirasah, chaladah, hagramah, and ikur.1
What is meant by shehiyah? A person began to slaughter and lifted up his hand before he completed the slaughter and waited. Whether he did so inadvertently, intentionally, or because of forces beyond his control, [the following rules apply] if he or another person completed the slaughter. If he waited the amount of time it would take to lift up the animal, cause it to lie down, and slaughter it, his slaughter is not acceptable. If he waited less than this amount of time, his slaughter is acceptable.
With regard to a small domesticated animal:2, the measure of shehiyah is the amount of time it would take to lift up the animal, cause it to lie down, and slaughter it. With regard to a large domestic animal,3 the measure of shehiyah is the amount of time it would take to lift up the animal, cause it to lie down, and slaughter it.4 With regard to a fowl, the measure of shehiyah is the amount of time it would take to lift up a small animal, cause it to lie down, and slaughter it.5
When a person cut [the signs] for a while, waited for a while, cut for a while, waited for a while until he concluded the slaughter without waiting the measure that disqualifies an animal at any one time, but over the times he waited over the entire period would equal the measure of shehiyah, there is an unresolved doubt whether [the animal is considered] a nevelah.6
Similarly, if he waited the amount of time it takes to lift up the animal, cause it to lie down, and cut only a portion of the signs, but not to slaughter it entirely, there is an unresolved doubt whether [the animal is considered] a nevelah.
If he slaughtered the majority of one of the signs for a fowl or the majority of both signs for an animal, the slaughter is permitted even if he waited half the day and then returned and finished cutting the signs.7 For since the minimum measure for slaughter was met, it is as if he is cutting slaughtered meat.
If one cuts half or less of the windpipe and waits an extended period, he may return and complete the slaughter; [his previous acts] are of no consequence.8 If, however, he cut the majority of [an animal's] windpipe or perforated the gullet even slightly and then waited the [disqualifying] measure, [the slaughter] is unacceptable.9 [This applies] whether he returned and completed cutting where he began or slaughtered the animal entirely in a different place. [The rationale is] that when the majority of the windpipe is slit or the gullet of either an animal or a fowl is perforated even slightly, the animal is comparable to a nevelah and ritual slaughter is not effective for it, as will be explained.10
It is thus explained for you that the concept of shehiyah does not exist with regard to the windpipe of a fowl at all. For if he slit the majority of the windpipe and waited, he has already completed the slaughter of [the fowl]. When he goes back and completes it, it is as if he is cutting meat.11 If he slit less than half the windpipe and waited, he may return and [complete the] slaughter whenever he desires,12 for it is not disqualified as a nevelah unless the majority of the windpipe has been cut.
[The following rules apply when] one slaughtered a fowl and waited, but does not know whether the gullet was perforated or not.13 He should return and cut the windpipe alone in another place,14 let [the fowl] be until it dies, and then check the gullet from the inside.15 If a drop of blood was not found on it, it is apparent that it was not perforated and it is acceptable.
What is meant by chaladah?16 For example, one inserted the knife between one sign and another.17 Whether one then slits the upper sign above or cuts the lower sign below in the manner of ritual slaughter, [the slaughter] is unacceptable.
If he inserted the knife beneath the [animal's] skin and slit both the signs in the ordinary fashion, hid the knife under tangled wool, or spread a cloth over the knife and the neck18 and slaughtered under the cloth, since the knife is not openly revealed, there is an unresolved doubt whether [the animal is considered] a nevelah. Similarly, if slaughtered less than half the signs with chaladah and completed the slaughter without chaladah, there is an unresolved doubt whether [the animal is considered] a nevelah.
What is meant by dirasah?19 For example, one struck the neck with a knife as one strikes with a sword, cutting the signs at one time, without passing [the knife] back and forth or one placed the knife on the neck and pressed, cutting downward like one cuts radishes or squash until he cuts the signs, [the slaughter] is unacceptable.
What is meant by hagramah?20 This refers to one who slaughters at a high point on the windpipe21 where it is not fit to slaughter. There are two [nodes, like kernels of] wheat at the top of the windpipe, at the large ring.22 [The following rules apply if] one slaughtered in the midst of these kernels. If he left even the slightest portion of them intact above [the place of slaughter], it is acceptable, for he slaughtered from the slanting cap [of the windpipe] or lower. This is within the place that is fit for ritual slaughter. If, however, he did not leave any portion of them intact, but instead cut above them, this is considered as [being slaughtered with] hagramah and it is unacceptable.
If one slit the majority of one sign [for a fowl] or the majority of both signs [for an animal] and then completed the slaughter through dirasah or hagramah, it is acceptable, for the minimum measure was slaughtered in the proper manner.23
If at first, he slit a third [of the windpipe]24 through hagramah, and then cut two thirds in the appropriate manner, the slaughter is acceptable.25 If he cut a third in the appropriate manner, cut a third through hagramah, and then cut the last third in the appropriate manner, the slaughter is acceptable.26 If at first, he slit a third through hagramah, cut a third in the appropriate manner, and then cut a third through hagramah, the slaughter is unacceptable.27 If one cut [a portion of] an animal's throat with derisah or chaladah, it is unacceptable, whether it was the first or second third.28
What is meant by ikur? That the gullet and/or the windpipe were displaced29 and slid [from their place] before the conclusion of the slaughter. If, however, one slit an entire sign or its majority in a fowl, and then the second sign slipped, the slaughter is acceptable.30
If one of the signs was displaced and afterwards, one slit the other, the slaughter is unacceptable.31 If one slit one of the signs [of a fowl] and then discovered that the other one was displaced, but it is unknown whether it was displaced before slaughter32 or after slaughter,33 there is an unresolved question whether [the fowl] is a nevelah.
If the sign that was cut for ritual slaughter is discovered to have been displaced, [the fowl or animal]34 is acceptable, for certainly, it was displaced after the slaughter. For if it had been displaced before ritual slaughter, it would have hung loosely and it would not have been able to be slaughtered [effectively].35
When does the above apply? When [the slaughterer] did not hold the signs in his hand when he slit them. If, however, he held the signs and slaughtered, it is possible that [the signs] could have been slit [effectively even] after they were displaced.36 Therefore, if a sign is discovered to be displaced and slaughtered,37 there is an unresolved question whether [the animal or the fowl] is a nevelah.
Whenever we have used the term "unacceptable," the animal is a nevelah and if a person partakes of an olive-sized portion of it, he is liable for lashes for partaking of a nevelah. For only an acceptable slaughter as commanded by Moses our teacher of blessed memory prevents an animal from being considered a nevelah as we explained.38 Whenever there is an unresolved doubt whether slaughter [is acceptable], there is an unresolved doubt whether the animal is a nevelah.39 A person who partakes of it is liable for stripes for rebellious conduct.
When the thigh of an animal and [the meat40 of] its hollow were removed and thus it appears lacking when it crouches, it is a nevelah.41 [It is] as if half of it was cut away and it was divided into two bodies. Thus slaughter is not effective with regard to it.
Similarly, if [the animal's] backbone was broken together with the majority of the meat, its back was ripped open like a fish, the majority of the windpipe was been severed,42 or the gullet was perforated in a place fit for slaughter,43 it is considered as a nevelah while alive and slaughter will not be effective with regard to it. The same laws apply to both an animal and a fowl with regard to all these matters.
The gullet has two membranes: the external membrane is red and the inner membrane is white.44 If only one of them is perforated, [the animal] is acceptable.45 If they are both perforated even to the slightest degree in a place fit for slaughter, it is a nevelah.46 [This applies] whether it was slaughtered in the place of the perforation or in another place, slaughter will not be effective with regard to it. If they were both perforated, [even when] one [hole] does not correspond to the other, the animal is a nevelah47.
When the gullet is perforated and a scab forms which covers it, the scab is of no consequence and it is considered perforated as it was beforehand.48 If a thorn is detected standing in the gullet, there is an unresolved doubt whether the animal is a nevelah. We fear that perhaps a scab developed in the place of a perforation and it is not visible.49 If, however, a thorn is lying lengthwise50 in the gullet, we are not concerned about it, for most desert animals eat thorns continuously.51
The gullet cannot be checked from the outside, only from the inside.52 What is implied? One should turn it inside out and check it. If a drop of blood is found upon it, it can be concluded that it was perforated.
When the majority of the cavity of the windpipe53 has been severed in the place fit for slaughtering,54 [the animal] is a nevelah. This also applies if it has a hole the size of an isar.55
[The following rules apply if the windpipe of an animal] was perforated with small holes.56 If the perforations did not detract [from the flesh, they disqualify the animal if,] when they are added together, they constitute the majority [of the windpipe]. If they detract from the flesh, [they disqualify the animal if,] when they are added together, their sum is the size of an isar.57 Similarly, if a strand [of flesh] is removed from [the windpipe], it [disqualifies the animal if its area] is the size of an isar.
With regard to a fowl, [a more stringent rule applies]:58 Whenever the strip [of flesh that was removed] or the holes that detract from the flesh [are large enough so that they] could be folded so that when placed over the opening of the windpipe, it would cover the majority [of its cavity],59 it is a nevelah. If not, it is acceptable.
If the windpipe was perforated on both sides with a hole large enough for the thickness of isar60 to be inserted into it, it is a nevelah. If it is slit lengthwise, even if only the slightest portion of the place fit to slaughter [an animal] remains above and below, it is acceptable.61
When a windpipe has been perforated62 and it is not known whether it was perforated before the slaughter or afterwards,63 we perforate it again in another place and compare the two holes. If they resemble each other, it is permitted.64
We compare only [a hole in] a large ring to [a hole in] a large ring or [a hole in] a small [ring] to [a hole in] a small [ring], but not [a hole in] a small [ring] to a [a hole in] a large [ring]. For the entire windpipe is made up of a series of rings. Between each [large] ring is a small, soft ring.
The Rambam's ruling favors the opinion of Shmuel over Rav. In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Caro explains that generally, we follow the principle that the halachah follows Rav's approach with regard to the Torah prohibitions. Nevertheless, in this instance, since there are other Sages who support Shmuel's view, the Rambam favors his opinion. In his Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 23:2), in addition to the Rambam's view, Rav Yosef Caro quotes Rashi's position which rules much more stringently with regard to shehiyah for a fowl. The Rama states that the common custom is to disqualify any ritual slaughter involving shehiyah of the slightest time for both animals and fowl.
In addition to the Rambam's view, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 23:5) quotes the view of Rashi cited by the Tur that as long as the cutting of the signs is not completed, shehiyah can disqualify an animal. Hence, as an initial and preferred option, one should show respect for this view. The Rama rules even more stringently, stating that even after the fact, the slaughter is disqualified. For that reason, he continues, if the majority of the signs are cut, but the animal is lingering alive, rather than cut the signs further, one should hit it on its head to kill it.
Theoretically, he could also cut the windpipe in the same place and complete the slaughter in that manner. Nevertheless, our Sages advised against doing so, for in this way, it is much easier to perforate the gullet when cutting the windpipe and thus he might disqualify the slaughter unnecessarily (Kessef Mishneh). See the Turei Zahav 23:6 who offers another rationale. As mentioned above, the Rama rules that whenever one waits during the slaughter of a fowl or an animal, the slaughter is disqualified.
A parallel law - slaughtering the animal in a different place - does not apply with regard to an animal. For to slaughter the animal, he must slit the gullet and we fear that he will cut at a place where it had been perforated previously (Kessef Mishneh).
I.e., he should cut the gullet off at its top and/or bottom and turn it inside out. If he is able to find a drop of blood, he can assume that it is perforated and it is unacceptable. An external examination of the gullet is not sufficient for the surface of the gullet is red and a drop of blood will not be noticeable. Its inner surface, however, is skin-colored and the blood will be noticed (Kessef Mishneh).
Chullin 20b states that this term is derived from the word chuldah meaning "weasel," i.e., an animal that hides in the foundation of homes. Similarly, chaladah involves "hiding" the knife when slaughtering; i.e., inserting it in a way that the blade is not open to the eye. Implied is that the proper way to slaughter is for the slaughterer to hold the animal or fowl with its neck upward and to draw the knife back and forth across the neck.
In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Caro quotes other authorities who explain that this is referring to a situation where the person tied the cloth around the animal's neck, attached it with wax, or the like. If, however, he merely loosely spread the cloth over the animal, the slaughter is acceptable. He concludes, however, that the Rambam's opinion should be respected. In his Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 24:8), he rules according to the other views, but states: "One should show concern for his (the Rambam's) opinion at the outset."
The Rambam speaks only with regard to the windpipe, because he defines hagramah as slaughtering the animal in an improper place. If one would slit the gullet above the proper place, the animal would become disqualified as a trefe immediately (Kessef Mishneh).
The Maggid Mishneh states that the windpipe is made up of many rings. Over the top ring, there is a flap (cap) of flesh which is slanted. (This is the area of the larynx. See also Chapter 1, Halachah 7, and notes.) At the top of this flap, there are two kernel-like buttons of flesh. As long as the slaughterer leaves some portion of these kernels intact, the slaughter is acceptable.
The Rambam derived this concept from a comparison to the laws of shehiyah mentioned in Halachah 5. The same concept applies if one slaughters more than half the signs appropriately and then completes the slaughter through chaladah. Indeed, it can be explained that the Rambam does not mention this law with regard to chaladah, because it is obvious. For in chaladah, the slaughter is essentially correct; it is only the manner in which one inserts the knife that is unacceptable (Kessef Mishneh).
As mentioned in the notes to Halachah 5, there are opinions who differ and disqualify the slaughter. Similarly, with regard to the laws at hand, there are opinions that are more stringent, except with regard to hagramah. In that instance, they accept the leniency mentioned by the Rambam. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 24:12) quotes both of the views without stating which should be followed. The Rama goes further and states that it is customary to rule stringently even with regard to hagramah, and even with regard to fowl.
The rationale for the Rambam's words has been discussed at length by the commentaries, because with regard to chaladah, in Halachah 10, he writes that there is an unresolved question whether the slaughter is disqualified, while here he appears to say that it is definitely unacceptable. The Rivosh (Responsum 187), the Kessef Mishneh, the Maggid Mishneh, and the Siftei Cohen 24:18 all offer lengthy - and somewhat forced - explanations to attempt to resolve the apparent contradiction. The core of the explanation of the Kessef Mishneh is that since the majority of the windpipe was slit in the proper place, it is not disqualified because a portion was not.
Needless to say, if one cuts the last third in either of these fashions, according to the Rambam, the slaughter is not disqualified, for it has already been completed (through slitting more than half of the sign[s] in an acceptable manner). The Rama, however, would disqualify the slaughter as stated above.
The term ikur means "uproot." The Kessef Mishneh states that, according to the Rambam, the fact that the signs have slipped from their place does not cause the animal to be deemed a trefe (see, however, Chapter 9, Halachah 21, and notes). Nevertheless, such a condition disqualifies the animal, for it is impossible for the ritual slaughter to be carried out in the proper manner.
This applies even with regard to a fowl. Although it is only necessary for one of the signs of a fowl to be cut in the appropriate manner, the other one must be fit to be slit in an appropriate manner (Kessef Mishneh).
The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 24:18) rule more stringently and maintain that it is necessary to slaughter another animal, displace its signs afterwards, and compare the two. Only if they are similar is the slaughter accepted. Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch continues stating that, at present, we are not expert at making this comparison and hence, forbid an animal whenever such a condition arises.
For the one that is not perforated is sufficient to protect the animal sufficiently for it to survive.
This leniency applies when the inner membrane is perforated due to sickness. If, however, it is perforated due to a thorn, we fear that the outer membrane may also be perforated, but that perforation cannot be detected [see Halachah 22; Rama (Yoreh De'ah 33:4)].
With regard to other organs which have two membranes, e.g., the brain and the lungs, the animal is not considered as trefe unless the holes correspond to each other. In this instance, however, the ruling is much more severe because the gullet is stretched and becomes extended. Thus even if the place of the holes do not correspond, they can match each other at times [Kessef Mishneh, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 33:4)].
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 33:9) rules that this applies even if the thorn is lying widthwise, as long as it is not implanted in the membrane. [Indeed, some versions of the Mishneh Torah substitute widthwise for lengthwise.]
I.e., the slit goes from side to side in a manner in which the majority of the cavity is slit. The Rambam (based on Chullin 44a,b) is emphasizing that this measure disqualifies an animal even if when including the thickness of the flesh of the windpipe, the slit would not cover the majority of the windpipe.
An Italian coin, frequently used in the Talmudic era. In his commentary to the Mishnah (Mikveot 9:5), the Rambam states that an isar is the weight of four barley corns.
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 34:2) states that we are unfamiliar with the measure of an isar. Therefore, the laws applying to an animal should resemble those applying to a fowl and if the slit covers the majority of the cavity of the windpipe, it is disqualified. The Rama states that, for an animal, an isar is smaller than the majority of the cavity of the windpipe. Therefore he states that perhaps the intent of the Shulchan Aruch, is the majority of the cavity of a fowl. He cautions anyone who has a doubt to rule stringently and disqualify the animal.
In his Kessef Mishneh and his Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 34:3), Rav Yosef Caro writes that as long as the flesh between the holes is not larger than the holes themselves, it is included together with them in this measure.
Our translation is based on the gloss of the Kessef Mishneh who quotes the Tur (Yoreh De'ah 34) who explains that in contrast to the previous halachah which speaks of a hole the area of an isar, this halachah is speaking about a hole through which an isar can be slipped through on its side.
It must be emphasized that the Rambam's ruling depends on the interpretation of Chullin 54a advanced by Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi. Rashi advances a different interpretation of that passage on which basis, the Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 34:5-6) quotes both opinions without stating which is favored.
The Kessef Mishneh quotes Rashi who explains that if the windpipe is slit across we rule more stringently, for the stress of breathing will extend the windpipe and cause the slit to expand. This does not apply when it is split lengthwise.
For it is apparent that the first hole was also made after the animal's death. The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 34:9) states that we are not proficient in inspecting the animal in this way and should disqualify it in all situations.
Translated by Eliyahu Touger
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