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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Shechitah - Chapter 14

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Shechitah - Chapter 14

1

It is a positive commandment1 to cover the blood of a kosher wild beast or fowl2 that was slaughtered, as [Leviticus 17:13] states: "If you will snare a wild beast or a fowl that may be eaten, you shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth." Therefore, before covering it, he is obligated to recite the blessing: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the earth who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to cover the blood.

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לְכַסּוֹת דּם שִׁחִיטַת חַיָּה טְהוֹרָה אוֹ עוֹף טָהוֹר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יז יג) "אֲשֶׁר יָצוּד צֵיד חַיָּה אוֹ עוֹף אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל וְשָׁפַךְ אֶת דָּמוֹ וְכִסָּהוּ בֶּעָפָר". לְפִיכָךְ חַיָּב לְבָרֵךְ קֹדֶם שֶׁיְּכַסֶּה בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל כִּסּוּי הַדָּם:

2

[The mitzvah] to cover the blood applies to animals that are at hand and those that are not at hand. [The verse mentions:] "If you will snare" only because it speaks about the commonplace situation. It applies with regard to ordinary animals, but not to those consecrated: whether they were consecrated [to be offered on] the altar or consecrated to the Temple treasury. If a person transgresses3 and slaughters [such an animal], he is not obligated to cover its blood.

ב

כִּסּוּי הַדָּם נוֹהֵג בִּמְזֻמָּן וּבְשֶׁאֵינוֹ מְזֻמָּן. לֹא נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יז יג) "אֲשֶׁר יָצוּד" אֶלָּא בַּהוֹוֶה. וְנוֹהֵג בְּחֻלִּין וְלֹא בְּמֻקְדָּשִׁין. בֵּין קָדְשֵׁי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בֵּין קָדְשֵׁי בֶּדֶק הַבַּיִת. וְאִם עָבַר וּשְׁחָטָן אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת אֶת דָּמָן:

3

If a person slaughters a wild beast or a fowl and afterwards, consecrates them - or consecrates the blood - he is obligated to cover the blood.4

ג

שָׁחַט חַיָּה וְעוֹף וְאַחַר כָּךְ הִקְדִּישָׁן אוֹ הִקְדִּישׁ אֶת הַדָּם חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת:

4

It is necessary to cover the blood of a hybrid that comes from the mating of an animal and a wild beast or an animal that we do not know whether to classify as a domesticated animal or a wild beast,5 but one does not recite the blessing.6 When a person slaughters for the sake of a sick person on the Sabbath, he is obligated to cover the blood after the Sabbath.7 Similarly, when a person slaughters an animal whose status is doubtful or is a hybrid on a festival, he should cover its blood after the festival.8

ד

כִּלְאַיִם הַבָּא מִבְּהֵמָה וְחַיָּה וְכֵן בְּרִיָּה שֶׁהִיא סְפֵק בְּהֵמָה אוֹ חַיָּה צָרִיךְ לְכַסּוֹת וְאֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ. הַשּׁוֹחֵט לְחוֹלֶה בְּשַׁבָּת חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת לְאַחַר שַׁבָּת. וְכֵן הַשּׁוֹחֵט סָפֵק אוֹ כִּלְאַיִם בְּיוֹם טוֹב מְכַסֶּה דָּמוֹ לְאַחַר יוֹם טוֹב:

5

When a person slaughters many fowl and several types of wild beasts in one place, he should recite one blessing and cover the blood of all of them together at one time.9

ה

הַשּׁוֹחֵט עוֹפוֹת וּמִינֵי חַיָּה בְּמָקוֹם אֶחָד מְבָרֵךְ בְּרָכָה אַחַת לְכֻלָּן וְכִסּוּי אֶחָד לְכֻלָּן:

6

When blood becomes mixed with water, one is obligated to cover it if it has the appearance of blood. If not, one is not liable. If it became mixed with wine or the blood of a domesticated animal, one considers it as if they were water. If were [the wine or blood] to have been water, [the mixture] would have appeared to be blood, he is obligated to cover the entire mixture. If not, he is not obligated.

ו

דָּם שֶׁנִּתְעָרֵב בַּמַּיִם אִם יֵשׁ בּוֹ מַרְאֵה דָּם חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת וְאִם לָאו פָּטוּר. נִתְעָרֵב בְּיַיִן אוֹ בְּדַם בְּהֵמָה רוֹאִין אוֹתָן כְּאִלּוּ הֵם מַיִם. אִם אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּרְאֶה מַרְאֵה הַדָּם שֶׁחַיָּב לְכַסּוֹתוֹ כְּשִׁעוּר זֶה אִלּוּ הָיָה מַיִם חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת הַכּל וְאִם לָאו פָּטוּר:

7

If a person covered blood and then it became revealed, he is not obligated to cover it a second time.10 If blood was covered by [dust blown] by the wind, one is not obligated to cover it.11 If it became revealed again after the wind covered it, he is obligated to cover it.12

ז

כִּסָּהוּ וְנִתְגַּלָּה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹתוֹ פַּעַם אַחֶרֶת. כִּסַּתְהוּ הָרוּחַ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת. חָזַר וְנִתְגַּלָּה אַחַר שֶׁכִּסַּתְהוּ הָרוּחַ חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת:

8

If there is no other blood [from the slaughter] except the blood which spurted out [while the animal was being slaughtered] and the blood on the knife,13 one is obligated to cover it.14

ח

דָּם הַנִּתָּז וְשֶׁעַל הַסַּכִּין אִם אֵין שָׁם דָּם אֶלָּא הוּא חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת:

9

[The following rules apply if] one slaughters and the blood is absorbed in the ground. If a mark remains, he is obligated to cover it. If not, it is as if it was covered by the wind15 and he is not obligated to cover it.

ט

שָׁחַט וְנִבְלַע הַדָּם בַּקַּרְקַע אִם רִשּׁוּמוֹ נִכָּר חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת. וְאִם לָאו הֲרֵי זֶה כְּמִי שֶׁכִּסַּתְהוּ הָרוּחַ וּפָטוּר מִלְּכַסּוֹת:

10

The only blood that must be covered is the blood of slaughter [that produces meat] that is fit to be eaten, as [the prooftext cited] states: "that may be eaten."16 Therefore, if a person slaughters and the animal is discovered to be trefe, one slaughters ordinary [fowl or beasts] in the Temple Courtyard,17 one slaughters fowl or beasts that were condemned to be stoned to death,18 one slaughters an animal and causes it to become a nevelah, one is not obligated to cover the blood. Similarly when a deaf-mute, a mentally or emotional incompetent person or a minor slaughters in private, there is no obligation19 to cover the blood [of the animal] they slaughtered.20

י

אֵין חַיָּב בְּכִסּוּי אֶלָּא דָּם שְׁחִיטָה הָרְאוּיָה לַאֲכִילָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יז יג) "אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל". לְפִיכָךְ הַשּׁוֹחֵט וְנִמְצֵאת טְרֵפָה. אוֹ הַשּׁוֹחֵט חֻלִּין בַּעֲזָרָה. אוֹ הַשּׁוֹחֵט חַיָּה וְעוֹף שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינָן לִסְקִילָה וְהַשּׁוֹחֵט וְנִתְנַבְּלָה בְּיָדוֹ פָּטוּר מִלְּכַסּוֹת. וְכֵן חֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן שֶׁשָּׁחֲטוּ בֵּינָן לְבֵין עַצְמָן פְּטוּרִין מִלְּכַסּוֹת דַּם שְׁחִיטָתָן:

11

With what should [the blood] be covered? With earth,21 lime, gypsum, fine fertilizer, fine sand that need not be crushed by a potter, crushed rocks and earthen-ware, fine flax chips, fine saw dust, bricks, burnt mud,22 and sealing clay that are crushed, for all of these are types of "earth." If, however, one covered it with a utensil or with stones, it is not considered as "covered," for the verse states "with earth."

יא

בַּמֶּה מְכַסִּין בְּסִיד וּבְגַפְסִית בְּזֶבֶל דַּק וּבְחוֹל דַּק שֶׁאֵין הַיּוֹצֵר צָרִיךְ לְכָתְשׁוֹ וּבִשְׁחִיקַת אֲבָנִים וַחֲרָשִׁים וּבִנְעֹרֶת שֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּן דַּקָּה וּבִנְסֹרֶת חָרָשִׁים דַּקָּה וּבִלְבֵנָה וְחַרְסִית וּמְגוּפָה שֶׁכְּתָשָׁהּ שֶׁכָּל אֵלּוּ מִין עָפָר הֵן. אֲבָל אִם כָּפָה עָלָיו כְּלִי אוֹ כִּסָּהוּ בַּאֲבָנִים אֵין זֶה כִּסּוּי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יז יג) "בֶּעָפָר":

12

For this reason, we do not cover [blood] with coarse fertilizer, coarse sand, flour, bran, grain fiber, or filings from metal utensils, for these are not types of "earth." There is one exception: filings of gold alone may be used to cover [blood], for they are called "dust,"23 as [Job 28:6] states: "And it possesses the dust of gold" and [Deuteronomy 9:21] speaks [of grinding the Gold Calf] "until it was thin, into dust."

יב

לְפִיכָךְ אֵין מְכַסִּים בְּזֶבֶל גַּס וְחוֹל גַּס וְקֶמַח וְסֻבִּין וּמוֹרְסָן וּשְׁחִיקַת כְּלֵי מַתָּכוֹת לְפִי שֶׁאֵין אֵלּוּ מִין עָפָר. חוּץ מִשְּׁחִיקַת הַזָּהָב בִּלְבַד שֶׁמְּכַסִּין בָּהֶם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּקְרָא עָפָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איוב כח ו) "וְעַפְרֹת זָהָב לוֹ" וְאוֹמֵר (דברים ט כא) "עַד אֲשֶׁר דַּק לְעָפָר":

13

We may cover [blood] with oven soot, stibium,24 powder from mills, and ashes. [This includes] ashes from trees and ashes from clothes, even ashes from meat that was burnt, for [Numbers 19:17] speaks of "the ashes of the burnt sin-offering."25 It is permitted to cover [blood] with the ashes of a city that went astray [and was therefore destroyed].26

יג

מְכַסִּין בְּשִׁחוֹר וְהוּא פִּיחַ הַכִּבְשָׁן וּבְכוֹחַל וּבְנִקְרַת פְּסִילִים וּבְאֵפֶר בֵּין אֵפֶר עֵצִים בֵּין אֵפֶר בְּגָדִים אֲפִלּוּ אֵפֶר בָּשָׂר שֶׁנִּשְׂרַף שֶׁהֲרֵי כָּתוּב (במדבר יט יז) "מֵעֲפַר שְׂרֵפַת הַחַטָּאת". וּמֻתָּר לְכַסּוֹת בְּעָפָר עִיר הַנִּדַּחַת:

14

One who slaughters must place earth below27 and then slaughter, [pouring the blood] into [the earth]. Afterwards, he covers it with earth. He should not slaughter [and pour the blood] into a container28 and then cover it with earth.

יד

הַשּׁוֹחֵט צָרִיךְ לִתֵּן עָפָר לְמַטָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִשְׁחֹט בּוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יְכַסֶּה בְּעָפָר אֲבָל לֹא יִשְׁחֹט בִּכְלִי וִיכַסֶּה בְּעָפָר:

15

The person who slaughters [the animal] should cover its blood,29 as [the above prooftext ] states: "[You shall pour out its blood and] cover it with earth."30 If he did not cover the blood and another person sees it, he is obligated to cover it, for this is an independent mitzvah and is not dependent on the slaughterer alone.31

טו

וּמִי שֶׁשָּׁחַט הוּא יְכַסֶּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יז יג) "וְכִסָּהוּ בֶּעָפָר". וְאִם לֹא כִּסָּהוּ וְרָאָהוּ אַחֵר חַיָּב לְכַסּוֹת שֶׁזּוֹ מִצְוָה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ וְאֵינָהּ תְּלוּיָה בַּשּׁוֹחֵט לְבַד:

16

When a person covers the blood, he should not cover it with his feet,32 but instead with his hands, a knife, or a utensil, so that he will not treat it with disdain and regard the mitzvoth with scorn. For the mitzvot in and of themselves are not worthy of honor. Instead, [the honor is] due He, blessed be He, who commanded us to observe them and [thus] saved us from groping in darkness and thus granted us a lamp to straighten crooked paths and a light to illumine the upright ways.33 And so [Psalms 119:105] states: "Your words are a lamp to my feet and a light for my ways."

Blessed be G‑d who grants assistance.

טז

וּכְשֶׁמְּכַסֶּה לֹא יְכַסֶּה בְּרַגְלוֹ אֶלָּא בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ בְּסַכִּין אוֹ בִּכְלִי כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִנְהֹג בּוֹ מִנְהַג בִּזָּיוֹן וְיִהְיוּ מִצְוֹת בְּזוּיוֹת עָלָיו. שֶׁאֵין הַכָּבוֹד לְעַצְמָן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת אֶלָּא לְמִי שֶׁצִּוָּה בָּהֶן בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְהִצִּילָנוּ מִלְּמַשֵּׁשׁ בַּחשֶׁךְ וְעָרַךְ אוֹתָנוּ נֵר לְיַשֵּׁר הַמַּעֲקַשִּׁים וְאוֹר לְהוֹרוֹת נְתִיבוֹת הַיּשֶׁר. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהילים קיט קה) "נֵר לְרַגְלִי דְבָרֶךָ וְאוֹר לִנְתִיבָתִי":

Footnotes
1.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 147) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 187) include this prohibition among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

2.

Both a wild fowl and a domesticated one. One need not, by contrast, cover the blood of a domesticated animal that was slaughtered.

3.

For it is forbidden to slaughter animals consecrated to the Temple treasury until they have been redeemed.

4.

Because when the blood was poured out, it did not have a connection to the Temple treasury, and at that time, the person became obligated to cover it.

5.

The commentaries to Chullin 83a employ this interpretation with regard to a kevi, an animal which one opinion in Chullin 80a understands as referring to an animal whose species could not be identified as a domesticated animal or a wild beast. The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 28:4) employs this concept with regard to a buffalo.

6.

We are unsure of the status of this animal and do not know whether there is an obligation to cover its blood or not. Hence, we cover it, but do not recite a blessing, lest the blessing be recited in vain.

7.

For covering it on the Sabbath would be a violation of the prohibition against performing labor.

8.

He is required to cover the animal's blood because of the doubt as stated in the first clause. Nevertheless, he may not cover it on the festival, for perhaps he is not obligated to do so, and hence, will be performing a forbidden labor on the festival for no valid reason. For this reason, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 28:3) rules that, as an initial and preferred option, one should not slaughter such an animal on a festival. See also Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 498:18) which states that even if one has earth prepared before the festival so that covering the blood will not involve the transgression of a prohibition, one should not cover it on a festival because of the impression that will be created. People might think that it was definitely determined that it is a wild beast and may therefore partake of its fat [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Chullin 6:1) based on Beitzah 8b].

See also the Siftei Cohen 28:10 which states that the blood must be poured out on the ground on the festival. It cannot be saved in a utensil (because of the prohibition mentioned in Chapter 2, Halachah 5) and spilled out after the festival.

9.

I.e., it is not necessary to cover the blood immediately. Instead, one may wait until he has slaughtered all the animals he desires and then cover the blood.

10.

For he has already fulfilled the mitzvah involved.

11.

For the Torah's commandment obligates one to cover only blood that is apparent. If it is covered, there is no mitzvah involved.

12.

Since the person never covered the blood himself, it is as if it was never covered. See Pitchei Teshuvah 28:4; Magen Avraham 586:6 which discuss whether there is a definite obligation to cover the blood in such a situation or there is an unresolved question and one does so because of the doubt involved. The question of whether or not to recite a blessing in this situation depends on the clarification of this issue.

13.

Usually, a certain quantity of blood is poured out directly after the slaughter as well.

14.

According to the Rambam's interpretation of the mishnah (Chullin 6:6), if there is other blood aside from this, it is sufficient to cover that other blood. It is not necessary to cover all the blood. The Ra'avad differs and maintains that all the blood must be covered. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 28:15 follows the Rambam's view.

15.

See Halachah 7.

16.

This prooftext causes the ruling to be different from that applying to the prohibition against slaughtering an animal and its offspring on the same day. See Chullin 85a.

17.

Which are forbidden to be eaten (Chapter 2, Halachah 2).

18.

I.e., an animal or fowl that killed a human.

19.

We have used a non-literal translation, for these individuals are not obligated in the performance of any mitzvot. See Siftei Cohen 28:24 which states that we are forbidden to cover this blood.

20.

As stated in Chapter 4, Halachah 5, if these individuals slaughter privately, the slaughter is unacceptable. If, however, they slaughter in the presence of an expert and he states that they slaughtered correctly, the slaughter is acceptable and the blood must be covered.

21.

Though this term is not found in the standard printed texts. It is found in authoritative manuscripts and early printings. The version of the standard printed text can be interpreted to mean that in this halachah, the Rambam is clarifying which other substances can be considered as "earth."

When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 28:23) gives the following introduction: "Any substance in which seeds will grow is called סearth'.... If [seeds] will not grow in it, but it is called סearth,' we may cover [blood] with it."

22.

This translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Ma'aser Sheni 5:1). In his commentary to 3:7, 10:2, he interprets the term as "crushed earthenware." We, however, used the former translation to avoid redundancy. Others cite the interpretation of the Aruch who explains that the term refers to a type of lime.

23.

The Hebrew term afar has both the meaning "earth" and "dust."

24.

A blue-powder uses for makeup and medicinal purposes in Talmudic times.

25.

I.e., the red heifer.

26.

See Deuteronomy ch. 13 and Hilchot Avodat Kochavim, ch. , which explain that if an entire city is led astray and worships false deities, the city is condemned, the transgressors executed, and the city burnt. With the ruling in this halachah, the Rambam is explaining that although it is forbidden to benefit from the property - and even the ashes - of such a condemned city, its ashes may be used for this purpose. The rationale is that using the ashes for the mitzvah is not considered as benefiting from them, because the mitzvoth were not given for our benefit (Chullin 89a).

27.

Moreover, this earth must be loose. One should not slaughter over a place where the earth is hard [Kessef Mishneh; Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 28:5)].

28.

Even if the utensil contains murky water and thus the prohibition mentioned in Chapter 2, Halachah 5, does not apply.

29.

One may, however, give another person the privilege of fulfilling the mitzvah. For that reason, there are many who ask the ritual slaughterer for the privilege of fulfilling the mitzvah of covering the blood after fulfilling the custom of kapporot. Nevertheless, one must ask the slaughterer for the privilege, one who takes it without asking is liable to pay the slaughterer a fine for "stealing" his mitzvah. See Turei Zahav 28:8.

30.

Chullin 87a states: "The one who סpours out its blood' should סcover it.'"

31.

Chullin, loc. cit., notes that the passage states: "And you shall say to the children of Israel," implying that the mitzvah is the concern of the entire people.

32.

I.e., by kicking the earth over the blood.

33.

As Bereishis Rabbah 44:1 states: "The mitzvoth were given to the Jewish people solely to refine the created beings with them." See also Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, ch. 26.

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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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