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Ma'achalot Assurot - Chapter 1

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Ma'achalot Assurot - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchos Ma'achalot Assurot

They contain 28 mitzvot: four positive commandments and 24 negative commandments. They are:

1. To check the signs that distinguish a non-kosher domesticated animal or beast from a kosher one;
2. To check the signs that distinguish a non-kosher fowl from a kosher one;
3. To check the signs that distinguish a non-kosher locust from a kosher one;
4. To check the signs that distinguish a non-kosher fish from a kosher one;
5. Not to partake of a non-kosher domesticated animal or beast;
6. Not to partake of a non-kosher fowl;
7. Not to partake of a non-kosher fish;
8. Not to partake of a flying teeming animal;
9. Not to partake of a teeming animal of the land;
10. Not to partake of a creeping animal of the land;
11. Not to partake of a worm [growing] in fruit after it emerges into the air;
12. Not to partake of an aquatic teeming animal;
13. Not to partake of a nevelah, an animal that died [without ritual slaughter];
14. Not to benefit from an ox that was stoned to death;
15. Not to partake of an animal with a mortal wound;
16. Not to partake of a limb from a living animal;
17. Not to partake of blood;
18. Not to partake of the fat of a kosher animal;
19. Not to partake of the gid hanesheh;
20. Not to partake of a mixture of milk and meat;
21. Not to cook such a mixture;
22. Not to partake of bread from new grain [before the appropriate time];
23. Not to partake of new grain that has been roasted [before the appropriate time];
24. Not to partake of fresh new grain [before the appropriate time];
25. Not to partake of orlah;
26. Not to partake of produce grown in a vineyard with mixed species;
27. Not to partake of tevel;
28. Not to drink wine poured as a libation [to a false deity].

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות מאכלות אסורות - הקדמה הלכות מאכלות אסורות יש בכללן שמונה ועשרים מצות ארבע מצות עשה וארבע ועשרים מצות לא תעשה וזה הוא פרטן: (א) לבדוק בסימני בהמה וחיה להבדיל בין טמאה לטהורה
(ב) לבדוק בסימני העוף להבדיל בין הטמא לטהור
(ג) לבדוק בסימני חגבים להבדיל בין טמא לטהור
(ד) לבדוק בסימני דגים להבדיל בין טמא לטהור
(ה) שלא לאכול בהמה וחיה טמאה
(ו) שלא לאכול עוף טמא
(ז) שלא לאכול דגים טמאים
(ח) שלא לאכול שרץ העוף
(ט) שלא לאכול שרץ הארץ
(י) שלא לאכול רמש הארץ
(יא) שלא לאכול תולעת הפירות כשתצא לאויר
(יב) שלא לאכול שרץ המים
(יג) שלא לאכול נבילה
(יד) שלא ליהנות בשור הנסקל
(טו) שלא לאכול טרפה
(טז) שלא לאכול אבר מן החי
(יז) שלא לאכול דם
(יח) שלא לאכול חלב בהמה טהורה
(יט) שלא לאכול גיד הנשה
(כ) שלא לאכול בשר בחלב
(כא) שלא לבשלו
(כב) שלא לאכול לחם תבואה חדשה
(כג) שלא לאכול קלי מן החדש
(כד) שלא לאכול כרמל מן החדש
(כה) שלא לאכול ערלה
(כו) שלא לאכול כלאי הכרם
(כז) שלא לאכול טבל
(כח) שלא לשתות יין נסך וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:


It is a positive commandment to know the signs that distinguish between domesticated animals, beasts, fowl, fish, and locusts that are permitted to be eaten and those which are not permitted to be eaten,1 as [Leviticus 20:25] states: "And you shall distinguish between a kosher animal and a non-kosher one, between a non-kosher fowl and a kosher one." And [Leviticus 11:47] states: "To distinguish between the kosher and the non-kosher, between a beast which may be eaten and one which may not be eaten."


מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לֵידַע הַסִּימָנִין שֶׁמַּבְדִּילִין בָּהֶן בֵּין בְּהֵמָה וְחַיָּה וְעוֹף וְדָגִים וַחֲגָבִים שֶׁמֻּתָּר לְאָכְלָן וּבֵין שֶׁאֵין מֻתָּר לְאָכְלָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כ כה) "וְהִבְדַּלְתֶּם בֵּין הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהֹרָה לַטְּמֵאָה וּבֵין הָעוֹף הַטָּמֵא לַטָּהֹר". וְנֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יא מז) "לְהַבְדִּיל בֵּין הַטָּמֵא וּבֵין הַטָּהֹר וּבֵין הַחַיָּה הַנֶּאֱכֶלֶת וּבֵין הַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא תֵאָכֵל":


The signs of a [kosher] domesticated animal and beast are explicitly mentioned in the Torah.2 There are two signs: a split hoof and chewing the cud. Both are necessary.

Any domesticated animal and beast that chews the cud does not have teeth on its upper jaw-bone. Every animal that chews the cud has split hoofs except a camel.3 Every animal that has split hoofs chews the cud except a pig.


סִימָנֵי בְּהֵמָה וְחַיָּה נִתְפָּרְשׁוּ בַּתּוֹרָה וְהֵם שְׁנֵי סִימָנִין (ויקרא יא ג) (דברים יד ו) "מַפְרֶסֶת פַּרְסָה" וּ (ויקרא יא ג) (דברים יד ו) "מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם. וְכָל בְּהֵמָה וְחַיָּה שֶׁהִיא מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה אֵין לָהּ שִׁנַּיִם בַּלְּחִי הָעֶלְיוֹן. וְכָל בְּהֵמָה שֶׁהִיא מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה הֲרֵי הִיא מַפְרֶסֶת פַּרְסָה. חוּץ מִן הַגָּמָל. וְכָל בְּהֵמָה שֶׁהִיא מַפְרֶסֶת פַּרְסָה הִיא מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה חוּץ מִן הַחֲזִיר:


Therefore if a person finds an animal whose hoofs are cut off in the desert and he cannot identify its species, he should check its mouth. If it does not have teeth on its upper jaw, it can be identified as kosher, provided one can recognize a camel.4 If a person finds an animal whose mouth is cut off, he should check its hooves, if they are split, it is kosher, provided he can recognize a pig.5

When both its mouth and its hoofs are cut off, he should inspect the end of its tail after he slaughters it.6 If he discovers that [the strings of] its meat extend both lengthwise and widthwise,7 it is kosher, provided he can recognize a wild donkey. For [the strings of] its meat also extend both lengthwise and widthwise.8


לְפִיכָךְ הַמּוֹצֵא בְּהֵמָה בַּמִּדְבָּר וְאֵינוֹ מַכִּירָהּ וּמְצָאָהּ חֲתוּכַת הַפְּרָסוֹת בּוֹדֵק בְּפִיהָ אִם אֵין לָהּ שִׁנַּיִם לְמַעְלָה בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהִיא טְהוֹרָה. וְהוּא שֶׁיַּכִּיר גָּמָל. מָצָא בְּהֵמָה שֶׁפִּיהָ חָתוּךְ בּוֹדֵק בְּפַרְסוֹתֶיהָ אִם הִיא שְׁסוּעָה טְהוֹרָה. וְהוּא שֶׁיַּכִּיר חֲזִיר. מָצָא פִּיהָ חָתוּךְ וְרַגְלֶיהָ חֲתוּכוֹת בּוֹדֵק בָּהּ אַחַר שֶׁשְּׁחָטָהּ בְּכַנְפֵי הָעֹקֶץ אִם מָצָא בְּשָׂרָהּ שָׁם מַהֲלַךְ שְׁתִי וָעֵרֶב טְהוֹרָה. וְהוּא שֶׁיַּכִּיר עָרוֹד שֶׁכֵּן הוּא בְּשָׂרוֹ שְׁתִי וָעֵרֶב:


When a kosher animal gives birth to an offspring resembling a non-kosher animal, it is permitted to be eaten even though it does not have split hoofs or chew the cud, but instead, resembles a horse or a donkey in all matters.9

When does the above apply? When he sees it give birth. If, however, he left a pregnant cow in his herd and found an animal resembling a pig dependent on it, the matter is doubtful and [the young animal] is forbidden to be eaten. [This applies] even if it nurses from [the cow], for perhaps it was born from a non-kosher species, but became dependent on the kosher animal.10


בְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה שֶׁיָּלְדָה כְּמִין בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַפְרִיס פַּרְסָה וְלֹא מַעֲלֶה גֵּרָה אֶלָּא כְּמִין סוּס אוֹ חֲמוֹר לְכָל דָּבָר הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר בַּאֲכִילָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁיָּלְדָה לְפָנָיו. אֲבָל אִם הִנִּיחַ פָּרָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת בְּעֶדְרוֹ וּבָא וּמָצָא כְּמִין חֲזִיר כָּרוּךְ אַחֲרֶיהָ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא יוֹנֵק מִמֶּנָּה הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק וְאָסוּר בַּאֲכִילָה. שֶׁמָּא מִן הַטֻּמְאָה נוֹלָד וְנִכְרָךְ אַחַר הַטְּהוֹרָה:


When a non-kosher animal gives birth to an offspring resembling a kosher animal, it is forbidden to be eaten. [This applies] even if it has split hoofs and chews its cud and resembles an ox or a sheep in all matters. [The rationale is that offspring] produced by a non-kosher animal are not kosher11 and those produced by a kosher animal are kosher.

For this reason, a non-kosher fish found in the belly of a kosher fish is forbidden, and a kosher fish found in the belly of a non-kosher fish is permitted, for they did not produce the fish, but instead, swallowed it.


בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה שֶׁיָּלְדָה כְּמִין בְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מַפְרִיס פַּרְסָה וּמַעֲלֶה גֵּרָה וַהֲרֵי הוּא כְּמִין שׁוֹר לְכָל דָּבָר אוֹ כְּמִין שֶׂה הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר בַּאֲכִילָה. שֶׁהַגָּדֵל מִן הַטְּמֵאָה טָמֵא וּמִן הַטְּהוֹרָה טָהוֹר. (לְפִיכָךְ) דָּג טָמֵא שֶׁנִּמְצָא בִּמְעֵי דָּג טָהוֹר אָסוּר. וְדָג טָהוֹר הַנִּמְצָא בִּמְעֵי דָּג טָמֵא מֻתָּר לְפִי שֶׁאֵין גִּדּוּלָיו אֶלָּא בְּלָעוֹ:


When a kosher animal gives birth to an offspring that has two backs and two backbones12 or such a creature is discovered within [an animal that was slaughtered], it is forbidden to be eaten. This is what is meant by the term hashisuah which is forbidden by the Torah, as [Deuteronomy 14:7] states: "These may not be eaten from those which chew the cud and have split hoofs, the shisuah...", i.e., an animal that was born divided into two animals.


בְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה שֶׁיָּלְדָה אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא בָּהּ בְּרִיָּה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ שְׁתֵּי גַּבִּין וּשְׁתֵּי שְׁדָרוֹת אֲסוּרָה בַּאֲכִילָה. וְזוֹ הִיא הַשְּׁסוּעָה שֶׁנֶּאֶסְרָה בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יד ז) "אֶת זֶה לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמַּעֲלֵי הַגֵּרָה וּמִמַּפְרִיסֵי הַפַּרְסָה הַשְּׁסוּעָה" כְּלוֹמַר בְּרִיָּה שֶׁנּוֹלְדָה שְׁסוּעָה לִשְׁתֵּי בְּהֵמוֹת:


Similarly, when [a fetus] resembling a fowl is found within a [slaughtered] animal, it is forbidden to be eaten. [This applies] even if it resembles a kosher fowl. [For when a fetus] is discovered in an animal, only one which has a hoof is permitted.13


וְכֵן בְּהֵמָה שֶׁנִּמְצָא בָּהּ דְּמוּת עוֹף אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עוֹף טָהוֹר הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר בַּאֲכִילָה. לֹא הֻתַּר מִן הַנִּמְצָא בַּבְּהֵמָה אֶלָּא מַה שֶּׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ פַּרְסָה:


There are no other domesticated animals or wild beasts in the world that are permitted to be eaten except the ten species mentioned in the Torah. They are three types of domesticated animals: an ox, a sheep, and a goat, and seven types of wild beasts: a gazelle,14 a deer, an antelope, an ibex, a chamois, a bison, and a giraffe. [This includes the species] itself and its subspecies, e.g., the wild ox and the buffalo are subspecies of the ox.15

All of these ten species and their subspecies chew the cud and have split hoofs. Therefore, a person who recognizes these species need not check neither their mouths,16 nor their feet.


אֵין לְךָ בְּכָל בְּהֵמָה וְחַיָּה שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם שֶׁמֻּתָּר בַּאֲכִילָה חוּץ מֵעֲשֶׂרֶת הַמִּינִין הַמְּנוּיִין בַּתּוֹרָה. שְׁלֹשָׁה מִינֵי בְּהֵמָה וְהֵם. שׁוֹר שֶׂה וְעֵז. וְשִׁבְעָה מִינֵי חַיָּה. אַיָּל וּצְבִי וְיַחְמוּר וְאַקּוֹ וְדִישֹׁן וּתְאוֹ וָזָמֶר. הֵם וּמִינֵיהֶן כְּגוֹן שׁוֹר הַבָּר וְהַמְּרִיא שֶׁהֵן מִמִּין הַשּׁוֹר. וְכָל הָעֲשָׂרָה מִינִין וּמִינֵיהֶם מַעֲלֶה גֵּרָה וּמַפְרִיס פַּרְסָה. לְפִיכָךְ מִי שֶׁהוּא מַכִּירָן אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לִבְדֹּק לֹא בַּפֶּה וְלֹא בָּרַגְלַיִם:


Although all these species are permitted to be eaten, we must make a distinction between a kosher domesticated animal and a kosher wild beast. For the fat of a wild beast is permitted to be eaten and its blood must be covered.17 With regard to a kosher domesticated animal, by contrast, one is liable for kerais for partaking of its fat18 and its blood need not be covered.


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכֻּלָּן מֻתָּרִין בַּאֲכִילָה צְרִיכִין אָנוּ לְהַבְדִּיל בֵּין בְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה וְחַיָּה טְהוֹרָה. שֶׁהַחַיָּה חֶלְבָּהּ מֻתָּר וְדָמָהּ טָעוּן כִּסּוּי וְהַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה חֶלְבָּהּ בְּכָרֵת וְאֵין דָּמָהּ טָעוּן כִּסּוּי:


According to the Oral Tradition, these are the distinguishing signs of a [kosher] wild beast: Any species that has split hoofs, chews its cud, and has horns which branch off like those of a gazelle are certainly kosher wild beasts. [The following laws apply with regard to] all those whose horns do not branch off: If they are curved, like the horns of an ox, notched, like the horns of a goat, but the notch should be embedded within them, and spiraled, like the horns of a goat,19 it is a kosher wild beast. Its horns, however, must have these three signs: They must be curved, notched, and spiraled.


וְסִימָנֵי חַיָּה מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה הֵן. כָּל מִין שֶׁהוּא מַפְרִיס פַּרְסָה וּמַעֲלֶה גֵּרָה וְיֵשׁ לוֹ קַרְנַיִם מְפֻצָּלוֹת כְּגוֹן הָאַיָּל הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּה טְהוֹרָה בְּוַדַּאי. וְכָל שֶׁאֵין קַרְנָיו מְפֻצָּלוֹת אִם הָיוּ קַרְנָיו כְּרוּכוֹת כְּקַרְנֵי הַשּׁוֹר וַחֲרוּקוֹת כְּקַרְנֵי הָעֵז וְיִהְיֶה הֶחָרָק מֻבְלָע בָּהֶן וַהֲדוּרוֹת כְּקַרְנֵי הַצְּבִי הֲרֵי זוֹ חַיָּה טְהוֹרָה. וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בַּקַּרְנַיִם שְׁלֹשָׁה סִימָנִין אֵלּוּ כְּרוּכוֹת חֲרוּקוֹת וַהֲדוּרוֹת:


When does the above apply? With regard to a species that he does not recognize. [Different rules apply with regard to] the seven species mentioned in the Torah. If he recognizes this species, he may partake of its fat and is obligated to cover its blood, even one does not find any horns on it at all.


בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּמִין שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַכִּירוֹ אֲבָל שִׁבְעָה מִינֵי חַיָּה הָאֲמוּרִין בַּתּוֹרָה אִם הָיָה מַכִּיר אוֹתָן אֲפִלּוּ לֹא מָצָא לוֹ קַרְנַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה אוֹכֵל חֶלְבּוֹ וְחַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת דָּמוֹ:


A wild ox is a species of domesticated animal.20 A unicorn21 is considered a wild beast even though it has only one horn.22

Whenever we have a doubt whether an animal is a domesticated animal or a wild beast, its fat is forbidden, but lashes are not given for partaking of it, and we must cover its blood.23


שׁוֹר הַבָּר מִין בְּהֵמָה הוּא וְהַקֶּרֶשׁ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא קֶרֶן אַחַת הֲרֵי הוּא חַיָּה. וְכָל שֶׁיִּסְתַּפֵּק לְךָ אִם הוּא מִין חַיָּה אוֹ מִין בְּהֵמָה חֶלְבּוֹ אָסוּר וְאֵין לוֹקִין עָלָיו וּמְכַסִּין אֶת דָּמוֹ:


A mixed species that comes from the mating of a kosher domesticated animal and a kosher wild beast is called a koi. Its fat is forbidden, but lashes are not given for partaking of it, and we must cover its blood.24 A non-kosher species will never be impregnated by a kosher species.25


כִּלְאַיִם הַבָּא מִבְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה עִם חַיָּה טְהוֹרָה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא כְּוִי. חֶלְבּוֹ אָסוּר וְאֵין לוֹקִין עָלָיו וּמְכַסִּין אֶת דָּמוֹ. וְאֵין מִין טָמֵא מִתְעַבֵּר מִמִּין טָהוֹר כְּלָל:


The distinguishing signs of a kosher [species of] fowl are not mentioned explicitly by the Torah. Instead, the Torah mentions26 only the non-kosher species. The remainder of the species of fowl are kosher. There are 24 forbidden species. They are:

a) the eagle,27

b) the ossifrage,

c) the osprey;

d) the kite, this is identical with the rayah mentioned in Deuteronomy,

e) the vulture, this is identical with the dayah mentioned in Deuteronomy,

f) members of the vulture family; for the Torah states "according to its family," implying that two species [are forbidden],

g) the raven,

h) the starling;28 since the Torah states "according to its family" with regard to the raven, the starling is included,

i) the ostrich,

j) the owl,

k) the gull,

l) the hawk,

m) the gosshawk, for this is among the hawk family; and the verse says "according to its family,"

n) the falcon,

o) the cormorant,

p) the ibis,

q) the swan,

r) the pelican,

s) the magpie,

t) the stork,

u) the heron,

v) members of the heron family; for the Torah states "according to its family,"

w) the hoopie, and

x) the bat.


סִימָנֵי עוֹף טָהוֹר לֹא נִתְפָּרֵשׁ מִן הַתּוֹרָה. אֶלָּא מָנָה מִנְיַן טְמֵאִים בִּלְבַד וּשְׁאָר מִינֵי הָעוֹף מֻתָּרִין. וְהַמִּנְיָן הָאֲסוּרִין אַרְבָּעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים הֵן. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) נֶשֶׁר. ב) פֶּרֶס. ג) עָזְנִיָּה. ד) דָּאָה וְהִיא הָרָאָה הָאֲמוּרָה בְּמִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה. ה) אַיָּה וְהִיא הַדַּיָּהּ הָאֲמוּרָה בְּמִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה. ו) מִין הָאַיָּה שֶׁכֵּן כָּתוּב בָּהּ לְמִינָהּ מִכְלַל שֶׁהוּא שְׁנֵי מִינִין. ז) עוֹרֵב. ח) זַרְזִיר שֶׁכֵּן נֶאֱמַר בְּעוֹרֵב לְמִינוֹ לְהָבִיא אֶת הַזַּרְזִיר. ט) יַעֲנָה. י) תַּחְמָס. יא) שַׁחַף. יב) נֵץ. יג) וְשַׁרְנְקָא וְהוּא מִין הַנֵּץ שֶׁכֵּן כָּתוּב בּוֹ לְמִינֵהוּ. יד) כּוֹס. טו) שָׁלָךְ. טז) יַנְשׁוּף. יז) תִּנְשֶׁמֶת. יח) קָאָת. יט) רָחָמָה. כ) חֲסִידָה. כא) הָאֲנָפָה. כב) מִין הָאֲנָפָה שֶׁכֵּן נֶאֱמַר בָּהּ לְמִינָהּ. כג) הַדּוּכִיפַת. כד) הָעֲטַלֵּף:


Whoever is knowledgeable with regard to these species29 and their names30 may partake of any fowl from other species.31 A kosher species of fowl may be eaten based on tradition, i.e., that it is accepted simply in that place that the species of fowl is kosher.32 A hunter's word is accepted if he says: "The hunter who taught me told me33 that this fowl is permitted," provided that [teacher] has an established reputation as being knowledgeable with regard to these species and their names.


כָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא בָּקִי בְּמִינִין אֵלּוּ וּבִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה אוֹכֵל עוֹף שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵהֶם וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ בְּדִיקָה. וְעוֹף טָהוֹר נֶאֱכַל בְּמָסֹרֶת. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה דָּבָר פָּשׁוּט בְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם שֶׁזֶּה עוֹף טָהוֹר. וְנֶאֱמָן צַיָּד לוֹמַר עוֹף זֶה הִתִּיר לִי רַבִּי הַצַּיָּד. וְהוּא שֶׁיֻּחְזַק אוֹתוֹ צַיָּד שֶׁהוּא בָּקִי בְּמִינִין אֵלּוּ וּבִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן:


Whoever does not recognize these species and does not know their names must check according to the following signs given by our Sages: Any fowl that attacks with its claws34 and eats is known to be among these species and is unkosher. If [a fowl] does not attack with its claws and eat, it is kosher if it possesses one of the following signs: a) it has an extra claw,35 b) a crop;36 this is also referred to as a mur'ah, c) [the membrane of] its craw37 can be peeled by hand.38


מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַכִּירָן וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ שְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן בּוֹדֵק בְּסִימָנִין אֵלּוּ שֶׁנָּתְנוּ חֲכָמִים. כָּל עוֹף שֶׁהוּא דּוֹרֵס וְאוֹכֵל בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא מֵאֵלּוּ הַמִּינִין וְטָמֵא. וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹרֵס וְאוֹכֵל אִם יֵשׁ בּוֹ אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה סִימָנִין אֵלּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹף טָהוֹר. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. אֶצְבַּע יְתֵרָה. אוֹ זֶפֶק וְהִיא הַמֻּרְאָה. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה קֻרְקְבָנוֹ נִקְלַף בְּיָד:


[The rationale is that] there are none of the forbidden species that do not attack with its claws and eat and possesses one of these three signs with the exception of the ossifrage and the osprey. And the ossifrage and the osprey are not found in settled areas, but rather in the deserts of the distant islands that are very far removed to the extent that are located at the ends of the settled portions of the world.


לְפִי שֶׁאֵין בְּכָל אֵלּוּ הַמִּינִין הָאֲסוּרִין מִין שֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹרֵס וְיֵשׁ בּוֹ אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה סִימָנִין אֵלּוּ חוּץ מִפֶּרֶס וְעָזְנִיָּה וּפֶרֶס וְעָזְנִיָּה אֵינָן מְצוּיִין בְּיִשּׁוּב אֶלָּא בְּמִדְבָּרוֹת אִיֵּי הַיָּם הָרְחוֹקוֹת עַד מְאֹד שֶׁהֵן סוֹף הַיִּשּׁוּב:


If its craw can be peeled with a knife, but cannot be peeled by hand and it does not possess any other sign even though it is not a bird of prey, there is an unresolved doubt regarding the matter.39 If the membrane was firm and tightly attached, but [the craw] was left in the sun and it became looser [to the extent that] it could be peeled by hand, [the species] is permitted.


הָיָה הַקֻּרְקְבָן נִקְלָף בְּסַכִּין וְאֵינוֹ נִקְלָף בְּיָד וְאֵין בּוֹ סִימָן אַחֵר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹרֵס הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק. הָיָה חָזָק וְדָבֵק וְהִנִּיחוֹ בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְנִתְרַפָּה וְנִקְלָף בְּיָד הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר:


The Geonim said that they have an existing tradition that one should not rule to permit a fowl that possesses only one of these signs unless that sign is that its craw can be peeled by hand. If, however, it cannot be peeled by hand, it was never permitted [to be eaten] even if it possesses a crop or an extra claw.


אָמְרוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁמָּסֹרֶת הִיא בִּידֵיהֶם שֶׁאֵין מוֹרִין לְהַתִּיר עוֹף הַבָּא בְּסִימָן אֶחָד אֶלָּא אִם הָיָה אוֹתוֹ סִימָן שֶׁיִּקָּלֵף קֻרְקְבָנוֹ בְּיָד. אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ נִקְלָף בְּיָד אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ זֶפֶק אוֹ אֶצְבַּע יְתֵרָה מֵעוֹלָם לֹא הִתִּירוּהוּ:


Whenever a bird divides its claws when a line is extended for it,40 placing two on one side and two on the other or it seizes an object in the air and eats while in the air, it is a bird of prey41 and non-kosher. Any species that lives together with non-kosher species and resembles them, is itself non-kosher.42


כָּל עוֹף שֶׁחוֹלֵק אֶת רַגְלָיו כְּשֶׁמּוֹתְחִין לוֹ חוּט שְׁתַּיִם לְכָאן וּשְׁתַּיִם לְכָאן. אוֹ שֶׁקּוֹלֵט מִן הָאֲוִיר וְאוֹכֵל בָּאֲוִיר. הֲרֵי זֶה דּוֹרֵס וְטָמֵא. וְכָל הַשּׁוֹכֵן עִם הַטְּמֵאִים וְנִדְמֶה לָהֶם הֲרֵי זֶה טָמֵא:


There are eight species of locusts which the Torah permitted:

a) a white locust,43 b) a member of the white locust family,44 the razbenit, c) the spotted grey locust, d) a member of the spotted grey locust family, the artzubiya, e) the red locust, d) a member of the red locust family, the bird of the vineyards, f) the yellow locust, g) a member of the yellow locust family, the yochanah of Jerusalem.


וּמִינֵי חֲגָבִים שֶׁהִתִּירָה תּוֹרָה שְׁמוֹנָה. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) חָגָב. ב) מִין חָגָב וְהוּא הָרַזְבָנִית. ג) חַרְגּל. ד) וּמִין חַרְגּל וְהוּא עַרְצוּבְיָא. ה) אַרְבֶּה. ו) וּמִין אַרְבֶּה וְהִיא צִפֹּרֶת כְּרָמִים. ז) סָלְעָם. ח) וּמִין סָלְעָם וְהִיא יוֹחָנָא יְרוּשַׁלְמִית:


Whoever is knowledgeable with regard to these species and their names may partake of them. A hunter's word is accepted as [stated with regard] to a fowl.45 A person who is not familiar with them should check their identifying signs. [The kosher species] have three signs. Whenever a species has four legs, four wings that cover the majority of the length and the majority of the width of its body, and it has two longer legs to hop, it is a kosher species.46 Even if its head is elongated and it has a tail, if it is referred to as a locust, it is a kosher species.47


מִי שֶׁהוּא בָּקִי בָּהֶן וּבִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן אוֹכֵל. וְהַצַּיָּד נֶאֱמָן עֲלֵיהֶן כְּעוֹף. ומִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בָּקִי בָּהֶן בּוֹדֵק בְּסִימָנִין. וּשְׁלֹשָׁה סִימָנִין יֵשׁ בָּהֶן. כָּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אַרְבַּע רַגְלַיִם. וְאַרְבַּע כְּנָפַיִם שֶׁחוֹפוֹת רֹב אֹרֶךְ גּוּפוֹ וְרֹב הֶקֵּף גּוּפוֹ. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ שְׁנֵי כְּרָעַיִם לְנַתֵּר בָּהֶם הֲרֵי זֶה מִין טָהוֹר. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֹאשׁוֹ אָרֹךְ וְיֵשׁ לוֹ זָנָב אִם הָיָה שְׁמוֹ חָגָב טָהוֹר:


When [a locust] does not have wings or extended legs at present, or its wings do not cover the majority [of its body], but it will grow them later when it grows larger, it is permitted [to be eaten] at present.


מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ עַכְשָׁו כְּנָפַיִם אוֹ כְּרָעַיִם אוֹ שֶׁאֵין לוֹ כְּנָפַיִם הַחוֹפִין אֶת רֻבּוֹ וְעָתִיד לְגַדֵּל אוֹתָן אַחַר זְמַן כְּשֶׁיַּגְדִּיל הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר מֵעַתָּה:


There are two signs of [kosher] fish: fins and scales. Fins are used by the fish to swim and scales are those which cling48 to its entire body. Any fish that possesses scales will have fins.49 If it does not have them at present, but when it grows, it will have them or if it has scales while in the sea, but when it emerges it sheds its scales,50 it is permitted.

When a fish does not have scales that cover its entire body, it is permitted. Even if it has only one fin and one scale,51 it is permitted.


וּבְדָגִים שְׁנֵי סִימָנִין. סְנַפִּיר וְקַשְׂקֶשֶׂת. וּסְנַפִּיר הוּא שֶׁפּוֹרֵחַ בּוֹ. וְקַשְׂקֶשֶׂת הִיא הַדְּבוּקָה בְּכָל גּוּפוֹ. וְכָל שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ קַשְׂקֶשֶׂת יֵשׁ לוֹ סְנַפִּיר. אֵין לוֹ עַכְשָׁו וּכְשֶׁיַּגְדִּיל יִהְיֶה לוֹ אוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ קַשְׂקֶשֶׂת כְּשֶׁהוּא בַּיָּם וּכְשֶׁיַּעֲלֶה יַשִּׁיר קַשְׂקַשָּׂיו הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. וּמִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ קַשְׂקַשִּׂים הַחוֹפִין אֶת כֻּלּוֹ מֻתָּר. אֲפִלּוּ אֵין בּוֹ אֶלָּא סְנַפִּיר אַחַת וְקַשְׂקֶשֶׂת אַחַת הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר:


The Rambam includes these four among the Torah's 613 mitzvot in his Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandments 149-152). The Ra'avad (in his hasagot to the listing of the mitzvot at the beginning of the Mishneh Torah) and the Ramban (in his hasagot to general principle 6 in Sefer HaMitzvot) differ and maintain that they should not be counted as mitzvot. According to their view, the mitzvot involve the observance of the prohibitions, but there is no positive act involved that could be considered as the observance of a commandment. [The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvot 153, 470, 158, and 155) mentions these mitzvot, but explains that he personally subscribes to the opinion of the Ramban that they should be not included among the 613 mitzvot.]

In his Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam explains his position. Leviticus 11:2 states: "This is the living creature that you may eat...." The Sifri commenting on that verse describes it as a positive commandment. Now there is no positive commandment to eat kosher meat. The commandment is to know which species are kosher and to make a distinction between them and those which are not kosher meat as implied by the verse the Rambam cites here: "And you shall distinguish...." For it is only in this way, that one will be able to eat kosher meat. See also the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh. And see Chapter 2, Halachah 1, where the Rambam explains how he derives the idea that both a positve mitzvah and a negative mitzvah are involved.


The Ra'avad questions why the Rambam does not mention a rabbit or a hare. The Torah specifically mentions that they chew their cud. The Maggid Mishneh explains that the Rambam does not mention them because they have teeth on their upper jaw.

The Maggid Mishneh and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 79:1) also mention that a camel has two teethlike growths on its upper jaw, but they do not in any way resemble teeth.

The Maggid Mishneh explains that the Rambam's intent is that any kosher domesticated animal or wild beast that chews its cud will not have teeth on its upper jaw and every such animal will have a split hoof.


I.e., if one sees that the domesticated animal is not a camel, one can assume that it is kosher, for a camel is the only non-kosher animal without teeth on its upper jaw.


For a pig is the only non-kosher animal with split hooves.


For before slaughtering it, such an inspection would be painful for the animal.


Our translation is based on the commentary of the Meiri to Chullin 59a. Rashi interprets that passage slightly differently and his opinion is cited by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah79:1).


The Maggid Mishneh and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 79:1) mention another sign for a kosher animal: horns.


As indicated by the Rambam's statements in the following halachah, the matter is dependent on the species and not the presence of distinguishing signs in and of themselves.


The Ra'avad qualifies the Rambam's ruling, stating that it applies only when the person possesses a non-kosher animal in his herd. If that is not the case, we do not suspect that a non-kosher newborn came from elsewhere. The Maggid Mishneh and the Siftei Cohen 79:6 do not accept this addition.


See also the beginning of ch. 3.


I.e., a calf born with a Siamese twin.


The hoof, however, need not be split as indicated by Halachah 4. See also Rama (Yoreh De'ah 13:5) and Siftei Cohen 13:20 who rule more leniently.


The translation of the names of these seven species is a matter of debate among both Torah commentaries and zoologists. Our translation is taken from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's Living Torah. Consult the notes there for a detailed discussion of the matter. See also Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 80:3; Rama (Yoreh De'ah 28:4 who discuss these issues. In practice, we partake of the meat of an animal only when there is an established tradition that it is permitted (Siftei Cohen 80:1).


The Maggid Mishneh and others interpret t'o as referring to a wild ox.


To see whether or not they have teeth on their upper jaw, as stated in Halachah 3.


As stated in Hilchot Shechitah, ch. 14.


See Chapter 7.


See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Chullin 3:6) for a definition of these terms. The Ra'avad, the Rashba, and Rashi offer slightly different definitions for these terms.


Although it is not domesticated and lives like a wild beast, it is still placed in this category.


This was not a mythical beast, but a species of antelope known to exist during the Talmudic period (Chullin 59b).


And all other kosher wild beasts have two.


I.e., we accept the stringencies resulting from both positions. The Turei Zahav 80:3 adds that since we are not certain that this is required, we do not cover its blood on a festival. Similarly, the Siftei Cohen 80:4 states that a blessing is not recited before covering its blood.


See also Hilchot Nazirut 2:10-11 which states that in certain ways it is like a domesticated animal (its fat is forbidden). In others, it is like a wild beast (its blood must be covered). Still in others it is like neither a domesticated animal or a wild beast (for it is considered as a mixed species with either of them) and in others (that it must be slaughtered), it resembles both.


I.e., even if they are mated, they will not produce offspring.


In this instance as well, the translation of the names of these species is a matter of debate among both Torah commentaries and zoologists. Our translation is taken from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's Living Torah. Consult the notes there for a detailed discussion of the matter. In practice, we only partake of those species of fowl concerning which we have an established tradition that they are acceptable.


See the Kessef Mishneh and others who state that there is a difference of opinion whether this species is acceptable or not.


As mentioned, there is a difference of opinion regarding the species associated with these names and there are few if any individuals who can claim the desired level of familiarity (see Siftei Cohen 82:1).


As indicated by Chapter 3, Halachah 18, the knowledge of the names of the species is important. Otherwise, the hunter's word is not accepted.


For these are the only ones forbidden by the Torah.


If there is such a tradition, there is no necessity to check the signs mentioned in the following halachah.


Chullin 63b states that this refers to a person who taught hunting and not a teacher of Torah, for it is possible that the Torah teacher will not be able to actually identify the species. Nevertheless, if a Rabbinical authority testifies that he has received the tradition that a species is acceptable, we follow his ruling (Siftei Cohen, loc. cit.).


In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Chullin 3:6), the Rambam defines this as meaning "place its claws on the object that it desires to eat and eats it."


I.e., a claw that is positioned higher and behind the fowl's row of claws (Rashi, Chulin 62a). Although most species of fowl possess such a claw, it is called "extra," because it is not positioned in the row of claws. Alternatively, the Hebrew term yeterah can be translated not as "extra," but as "larger," i.e., a claw that is larger than the others (Rabbenu Nissim).


An organ which parallels a human's stomach.


An extra muscular stomach that exists in fowl.

We are speaking about the inner membrane (Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Chulin 3:6). See Chatam Sofer, Yoreh De'ah, Responsum 50.


Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 82:2) quotes the Rambam's words, it concludes: "Even though a fowl possesses these three signs, it should not be eaten, because we suspect that it might be a bird of prey unless they have a tradition given to them by their ancestors that this species is kosher." Similarly, the Rama (Yoreh De'ah 82:3) states: "One should not partake of any fowl unless there is a received tradition that it is kosher. This is the accepted custom. One should not deviate from it." Thus even if a species of fowl possesses these three signs, we do not partake of it.


And we do not permit it.


I.e., it stands on a rope or a pole extended for it by gripping the rope or pole with its claws (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Chulin 3:6).


For these actions indicate that it uses its claws to attack other animals.


Chulin 65a states that only species that are themselves impure will dwell together with impure species.


In this instance as well, the translation of the names of these species is a matter of debate among both Torah commentaries and zoologists. Our translation is taken from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's Living Torah. Consult the notes there for a detailed discussion of the matter. In practice, it is common in most communities not to partake of any species of locusts (Turei Zahav 85:1). In the Yemenite community, however, there are certain species of locusts which are eaten.


The Torah mentions four names of locust species and in connection with each states "according to its family," indicating that a sub-species is also permitted.


Halachah 15.


Chulin 66a speaks of four identifying signs for a kosher locust: a) four wings, 2 long legs, four legs, and the fact that its wings cover the majority of its body..


Note the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishneh (Chullin81, the conclusion of ch. 3) which states that the factor of fundamental importance is that the specis be referred to as a locust. See Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 85a).


The Maggid Mishneh explains that this term implies that the scales are not an integral part of the fish but can be separated from its body either by hand or with a utensil. If they cannot be separated from the fish, the fish is not kosher [Rama (Yoreh De'ah 83:1)].


Thus if one finds scales on a piece of fish, there is no need to check whether it possessed fins (the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 83:3).

Chulin 66b asks: If so, why did the Torah mention fins and answers that this magnifies and amplifies the Torah.


There are several species of kosher fish which shed their scales in this manner.


The Tur and Rama (loc. cit.) quote the view of certain Rishonim who maintain that in such an instance, the scale must be located under its gills, fins, or tail.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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