1

If a Jew's, clean [kosher] animal gives birth to a firstborn,1 it is a mitzvah (for the owner) to sanctify it and say "This is holy;" for it is said, "You shall sanctify it to Adonoy, your God."2 If he did not sanctify it, it is holy on its own accord from the womb, and it must be given to the kohein regardless if it is perfect, or if it received a defect after its birth, or even if it was born with a defect. However, it should not be given to the kohein when it is very young, because this does not do honor to the kohein. The owner should raise it until it is somewhat grown up, that is thirty days for a small animal (sheep or goat), and fifty days for a large animal (cow). If a kohein cannot be found, the owner must care for it until a kohein comes along.

א

יִשְֹרָאֵל שֶׁיָלְדָה לוֹ בְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה שֶׁלּוֹ בְּכוֹר, מִצְוָה לְהַקְדִּישׁוֹ וְלוֹמַר, הֲרֵי זֶה קֹדֶשׁ, שֶנֶּאֱמַר, תַּקְדִּישׁ לה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ. וְאִם לֹא הִקְדִּישׁוֹ, מִתְקַדֵּשׁ מֵאֵלָיו מֵרָחֶם. וְנוֹתְנִים אוֹתוֹ לַכֹּהֵן, בֵּין שֶׁהוּא תָם, בֵּין שֶׁנָּפַל בּוֹ מוּם, וַאֲפִלּוּ נוֹלַד בְּמוּמוֹ. אֲבָל לֹא יִתְּנֵהוּ לַכֹּהֵן בְּעוֹדוֹ קָטֹן מְאֹד, שֶׁאֵין זוֹ גְדֻלָּה לַכֹּהֵן, אֶלָּא הַבְּעָלִים מְטַפְּלִים בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִגְדַּל מְעַט, דְּהַיְנוּ, בְּדַקָּה שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם, וּבְגַסָּה חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם. וְאִם אֵין לוֹ כֹּהֵן מָצוּי, חַיָב לְטַפֵּל בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִזְדַּמֵּן לוֹ כֹּהֵן.

2

If, within this time the kohein said to the owner: "Give it to me and I will raise it," if it does not have a defect, he is not permitted to give it to him, because this would appear as if the kohein is doing the Yisroel (owner) a favor (that he is tending it for him) in consideration of his giving the animal to him. And this is forbidden, for it is tantamount to robbing the other kohanim. However, if the animal was blemished during this time, and the kohein said to the owner, "Give it to me so that I may eat it," it is permitted to give it to him since he may slaughter it immediately.

ב

אָמַר לוֹ הַכֹּהֵן תּוֹךְ הַזְּמָן, תְּנֵהו לִי וַאֲנִי אֲטַפֵּל בּוֹ, אִם אֵין בּוֹ מוּם, אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לִתְּנוֹ לוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֶּהוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁעוֹשֶׁה לוֹ טוֹבָה לְיִשְֹרָאֵל, (שֶׁהוּא יְטַפֵּל בּוֹ תַּחְתָּיו), בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיִתְּנֵהוּ לוֹ, וְזֶה אָסוּר, דַּהֲוֵי כְגוֹזֵל אֲחֵרִים. אֲבָל אִם נָפַל בּוֹ מוּם תּוֹךְ הַזְּמָן וְאָמַר לוֹ הַכֹּהֵן תְּנֵהוּ לִי שֶׁאוֹכֲלֶנּוּ, מֻתָּר, שֶׁהֲרֵי יָכוֹל לְשָׁחֳטוֹ מִיָד.

3

At present if the kohein does not want to accept the animal, because it is too bothersome to raise it until it is blemished, he is not allowed to refuse it because it looks as though he is showing contempt for the priestly gifts. Nevertheless, the Yisroel is forbidden to give it to the kohein in order to vex him or to take revenge on him. If he does so with this intention, the kohein need not accept it. Similarly, if the Yisroel was negligent in that he was able to sell the animal to a Gentile before it gave birth and he did not sell it, the kohein need not accept that firstborn; rather the owner himself must raise it until it becomes blemished, and then give it to the kohein.

ג

אִם הַכֹּהֵן אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְקַבְּלוֹ, מִפְּנֵי כִּי בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה יֵשׁ בּוֹ טֹרַח גָּדוֹל לְגַדְּלוֹ עַד שֶׁיִפּוֹל בּוֹ מוּם, אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כִּמְבַזֶּה מַתְּנוֹת כְּהֻנָּה. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם הַיִשְֹרָאֵל אָסוּר לוֹ לִתְּנוֹ לַכֹּהֵן כְּדֵי לְהַקְנִיטוֹ אוֹ לִנְקֹם מִמֶּנוּ. וְאִם עוֹשֶה כֵן, אֵין הַכֹּהֵן צָרִיךְ לְקַבְּלוֹ. וְכֵן אִם פָּשַׁע הַיִשְֹרָאֵל, שֶׁהָיָה יָכוֹל לִמְכֹּר אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה לַגּוֹי קֹדֶם שֶׁיָלְדָה וְלֹא מְכָרָהּ, אֵין הַכֹּהֵן צָרִיךְ לְקַבֵּל אֶת הַבְּכוֹר, אֶלָּא הוּא בְעַצְמוֹ יְטַפֵּל בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִפּוֹל בּוֹ מוּם, וְאָז יִתְּנֵהוּ לַכֹּהֵן (עַיֵן חוּט הַשָנִי סִימָן כו).

4

In our times, the firstborn must be kept until it is blemished, and upon receiving the blemish, it must be shown to three Torah scholars one of whom must be an expert, to know if it is a permanent blemish, and, if it is, they permit its use. Afterwards it is slaughtered and if found to be kosher, it may be eaten even by a Yisroel ([and certainly by a kohein]). However, it should not be sold in the meat market, or weighed out by the pound and no part of it may be given to the dogs, and you may not sell, or give, any part of it to a Gentile.

ד

הַבְּכוֹר בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה, צְרִיכִין לְהַשְׁהוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִפּוֹל בּוֹ מוּם. וּכְשֶׁנָפַל בּוֹ מוּם, מַרְאִין אוֹתוֹ לִשְׁלשָׁה בַּעֲלֵי תוֹרָה, וְאֶחָד מֵהֶם יִהְיֶה בָקִי לָדַעַת אִם הוּא מוּם קָבוּעַ, וּמַתִּירִין אוֹתוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ שׁוֹחֲטִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאִם הוּא כָּשֵׁר, אוֹכְלִין אוֹתוֹ, וּמֻתָּר גַם לְיִשְֹרָאֵל. אֲבָל אֵינוֹ נִמְכָּר בְּמָקוֹלִין, וְאֵינוֹ נִשְׁקָל בְּלִיטְרָא, וְאֵין נוֹתְנִין מִמֶּנוּ לַכְּלָבִים, וְאֵין מוֹכְרִין אוֹ נוֹתְנִין מִמֶּנוּ לַגּוֹי.

5

When a firstborn sustains a blemish, and there are men in the area who are competent to rule that it is permitted, it should be shown to them immediately. Once it has been permitted, it should not be kept a long time. If it was permitted during its first year, it may be kept until it is a year old. If it was permitted near the end of its first year, or after its first year, it should not be kept for longer than thirty days. If the owner transgressed and kept it longer, it is not disqualified because of this.

ה

הַבְּכוֹר שֶׁנּוֹלַד בּוֹ מוּם, אִם יֵשׁ בַּמָּקוֹם הַהוּא אֲנָשִׁים הָרְאוּיִים לְהַתִּירוֹ, מַרְאִין אוֹתוֹ לָהֶם מִיָד. וּמִשֶּׁהֻתַּר, אֵין מַשְׁהִין אוֹתוֹ הַרְבֵּה, אֶלָּא אִם הֻתַּר תּוֹךְ שְׁנָתוֹ, יְכוֹלִין לְהַשְׁהוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁתְּהֵא לוֹ שָׁנָה. וְאִם הֻתַּר סָמוּךְ לִשְׁנָתוֹ אוֹ לְאַחַר שְׁנָתוֹ, אֵין מַשְׁהִין אוֹתוֹ יוֹתֵר מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. עָבַר וְהִשְׁהָה אוֹתוֹ יוֹתֵר, אֵינוֹ נִפְסַל בָּכָךְ.

6

The kohein must raise the firstborn until it sustains a blemish. He may sell it to a Yisroel whether it has a blemish or whether it does not have a blemish, providing the Yisroel treats it in a manner befitting the holiness of a firstborn, and is also not buying it for commercial purposes.

ו

הַכֹּהֵן צָרִיךְ לְגַדֵל אֶת הַבְּכוֹר עַד שֶׁיִפֹּל בּוֹ מוּם. וְיָכוֹל לְמָכְרוֹ לְיִשְֹרָאֵל, בֵּין שֶׁיֵשׁ בּוֹ מוּם בֵּין שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ מוּם, רַק שֶׁהַיִשְֹרָאֵל יִנְהַג בּוֹ בִּקְדֻשַּׁת בְּכוֹרָה, וְגַם לֹא יִקְנֵהוּ לִסְחוֹרָה.

7

It is not permitted to be margil the firstborn.3 This means it must not be skinned in one piece, from its feet upward, for it would appear disgraceful to skin the sacred [animal], with the intention of making bellows of it (the skin).

ז

אֵין מַרְגִּילִין בַּבְּכוֹר, דְּהַיְנוּ לְהַפְשִׁיט עוֹרוֹ שָׁלֵם דֶּרֶךְ מַרְגְּלוֹתָיו, דְּנִרְאֶה כְבִזָּיוֹן, שֶׁבְּעוֹד שֶׁהָעוֹר עַל הַקֳּדָשִים, חוֹשֵׁב לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמֶּנוּ מַפּוּחַ.

8

If the firstborn is slaughtered and found to be a treifa, 4 it is forbidden to benefit from its hide and its meat, and it must be buried. Similarly, if it dies a natural death it must be buried. It is customary to wrap it in a sheet, and bury it deep in the ground of the cemetery.

ח

שְׁחָטוֹ וְנִמְצָא טְרֵפָה, עוֹרוֹ וּבְשָׂרוֹ אֲסוּרִים בַּהֲנָאָה, וְטָעוּן קְבוּרָה. וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם מֵת מֵעַצְמוֹ, טָעוּן קְבוּרָה. וְנוֹהֲגִין שֶׁכּוֹרְכִין אוֹתוֹ בְּסָדִין וְקוֹבְרִין אוֹתוֹ בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת בָּעֹמֶק (תשובה מאהבה)

9

It is forbidden to fleece or to do work with the first born regardless if it is blemished or not. Even if some wool came off by itself, no benefit may ever be derived from that wool. However, the wool that is on its body, when slaughtered after receiving a blemish, is permitted for the slaughtering permits the wool for use just as it permits the use of the meat and the hide.

ט

הַבְּכוֹר, בֵּין תָּם בֵּין בַּעַל מוּם, אָסוּר בְגִזָּה וַעֲבוֹדָה. וַאֲפִלוּ נִתְלַשׁ מִמֶּנוּ צֶמֶר מֵעַצְמוֹ, אוֹתוֹ הַצֶמֶר, אָסוּר בַהֲנָאָה לְעוֹלָם. אֲבָל הַצֶּמֶר שֶׁעַל גּוּפוֹ, אִם נִשְׁחַט בְּמוּמוֹ, הַשְּׁחִיטָה מַתֶּרֶת גַּם אֶת הַצֶּמֶר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא מַתֶּרֶת אֶת הַבָּשָׂר וְאֶת הָעוֹר.

10

The firstborn is not permitted to be eaten unless it sustains a blemish. It is forbidden to close it up in a vault so that it should die of its own, for this would be destroying a sacred thing.

י

הַבְּכוֹר, אֵין לוֹ הֶתֵּר אֶלָּא בְּמוּם. וְאָסוּר לְכָנְסוֹ לְכִפָּה כְּדֵי שֶׁיָמוּת מֵעַצְמוֹ, מִשּׁוּם דְמַפְסִיד קָדָשִׁים.

11

It is forbidden to make a blemish in a firstborn, or even to cause a blemish indirectly; for example, to put dough on its ear, in order for a dog to grab it and bite off its ear with it; or to cause a blemish in some similar way. It is forbidden to tell a Gentile to make a blemish in a firstborn, but it is permitted to give it to a Gentile to raise it or watch it.

יא

אָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹת מוּם בַּבְּכוֹר. וַאֲפִלּוּ לִגְרֹם לוֹ מוּם, כְּגוֹן לִתֵּן בָּצֵק עַל גַּבֵּי אָזְנוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִטְּלֶנוּ הַכֶּלֶב מִשָּׁם וְיִקְטַע אָזְנוֹ עִמּוֹ, וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָזֶה, אוֹ שֶׁיֹּאמַר לַגּוֹי לַעֲשׂוֹת בּוֹ מוּם, אָסוּר. וּמֻתָּר לִתְּנוֹ לַגּוֹי לְגַדְּלוֹ אוֹ לְשָׁמְרוֹ.

12

If an animal is purchased from a Gentile, and it is not known if it has given birth before or not, and now it has given birth while in the possession of the Jew, its status as a firstborn is doubtful, and even if the Gentile innocently volunteers the information that it had previously given birth, it is of no avail. Even the characteristic signs in the cracks of its horns are of no avail. And even if she was being milked, it is of no avail, unless we see her nursing a calf. If she is being milked, and the Gentile innocently volunteers, (not for the purpose of promoting the sale,) and states that she has previously given birth, these two things together are proof with regards to cows, but not with regards to goats.5

יב

הַלּוֹקֵחַ בְּהֵמָה מִן הַגּוֹי, וְאֵין יָדוּעַ אִם כְּבָר יָלְדָה אוֹ לֹא, וְיָלְדָה עַתָּה בְּבֵית יִשְֹרָאֵל, הֲרֵי זֶה סְפֵק בְּכוֹר. וַאֲפִלּוּ הַגּוֹי מֵסִיחַ לְפִי תֻמּוֹ שֶׁכְּבָר יָלְדָה, לא מַהֲנֵי. וְגַם הַסִּימָנִים שֶׁבְּסִדְקֵי קַרְנַיִם, לָא מַהֲנֵי. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הִיא חוֹלֶבֶת, לָא מַהֲנֵי, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן רוֹאִין שֶׁמֵּנִיקָה עֵגֶל. וְאִם הִיא חוֹלֶבֶת וְגַם הַגּוֹי מֵסִיחַ לְפִי תֻמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְּׁבִּיחַ אֶת מִקָּחוֹ וְאוֹמֵר שֶׁכְּבָר יָלְדָה, מַהֲנֵי בְפָרוֹת, אֲבָל לֹא בְּעִזִּים (שטז).

13

Kohanim and Levites are also subject to the laws regarding the firstborn of clean animals, except that the kohein sets it aside, and keeps it for himself and maintains it in the state of holiness that is due a firstborn.6

יג

כֹּהֲנִים וּלְוִיִּם, חַיָבִים גַּם כֵּן בִּבְכוֹר בְּהֵמָה טְהוֹרָה, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַכֹּהֵן מַפְרִישׁוֹ וּמְעַכְּבוֹ לְעַצְמוֹ וּמַחֲזִיקוֹ בִּקְדֻשַׁת בְּכוֹר.

14

If a Gentile and a Jew are partners in an animal, or a Jew agrees to raise an animal of a Gentile, and share equally in the offspring, they are exempt from the laws of the firstborn for it is said: "Whatever opens the womb among the Children of Yisrael,"7 meaning, all of it must belong to a Jew. If a Gentile agrees to raise an animal of a Jew, and share equally in the offspring, according to many Poskim it is of no avail, but the Jew must sell the mother to the Gentile.

יד

אִם יֵש לַגּוֹי שֻׁתָּפוּת עִם יִשְֹרָאֵל בִּבְהֵמָה, וְכֵן הַמְקַבֵּל בְּהֵמָה מִן הַגּוֹי לְגַדְּלָה וְשֶׁיַחְלְקו בִּוְלָדוֹת, פְּטוּרִין מִן הַבְּכוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, פֶּטֶר כָּל רֶחֶם בִּבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל, עַד שֶׁיִהְיֶה הַכֹּל מִיִשְֹרָאֵל. וְגוֹי הַמְקַבֵּל בְּהֵמָה מִיִשְֹרָאֵל לְגַדְלָה וְשֶׁיַחְלְקוּ בִּוְלָדוֹת, לְהַרְבֵּה פוֹסְקִים לָא מַהֲנֵי. אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ הַיִשְֹרָאֵל לִמְכֹּר אֶת הָאֵם לַגּוֹי.

15

It is a mitzvah to sell to a Gentile the clean animal (before it gives birth), or to form a partnership with him before it gives birth, in order to exempt it from the laws of the firstborn.8 And although (by doing this), it circumvents the holiness of the firstborn, it is, nevertheless, preferable so that no violations will be committed with regard to its wool and its use for work. Transferring the title (of the calf) to the Gentile when the calf is yet unborn is of no avail, since it is something that has not come into existence;9 but the title of the mother must be transferred as well. The transfer of the title should be done in this manner: the owner should come to terms with the Gentile regarding the price of the cow, and also rent him the place that the cow now occupies; the Gentile should give him a perutah,10 and the Jew should say to him, "With this perutah you shall acquire the place that the cow now occupies, and this place will acquire the title of the cow for you.11 It can also be done in this manner: after they come to terms about the price of the cow, the Gentile should give him a perutah, and then lead the cow into his own premises, or into an alleyway, whereby he acquires title both by meshicha (actual transfer) and with money. Even if he returns the cow afterwards to the premises of the Jew it does not matter.

טו

מִצְוָה לִמְכֹּר לַגּוֹי אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה אוֹ לְהִשְּׁתַּתֵּף עִמוֹ בָּהּ קֹדֶם שֶׁתֵּלֵד, כְּדֵי לְפָטְרָהּ מֵהַבְּכוֹרָה. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמַּפְקִיעַ קְדֻשַּׁת הַבְּכוֹר, הָכִי עָדִיף טְפֵי, שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִדֵי מִכְשׁוֹל בְּגִזָּה וַעֲבוֹדָה. וְאִם יַקְנֶה לַגּוֹי אֶת הָעֻבָּר, לֹא מַהֲנֵי, כֵּיוָן דַּהֲוֵי דָבָר שֶׁלֹא בָא לָעוֹלָם, אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ לְהַקְנוֹת לוֹ אֶת הָאֵם. וְהַקִּנְיָן יהְיֶה בְּאֹפֶן זֶה, יִשְׁתַּוֶּה עִם הַגּוֹי עַל מְחִיר הַפָּרָה, וְגַם יַשְׂכִּיר לוֹ אֶת הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶר הַפָּרָה עוֹמֶדֶת שָׁם, וְהַגּוֹי יִתֵּן לוֹ פְּרוּטָה, וְיֹאמַר לוֹ הַיִשְֹרָאֵל, בְּזוֹ הַפְּרוּטָה, תִּקְנֶה אֶת הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר הַפָּרָה עוֹמֶדֶת שָׁמָּה, וְהַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה יַקְנֶה לְךָ אֶת הַפָּרָה. אוֹ יַעֲשֶׂה כֵּן, שֶׁלְּאַחַר שֶׁהִשְׁתַּוּוּ עַל מְחִיר הַפָּרָה, יִתֶּן לוֹ הַגּוֹי פְּרוּטָה, וְגַם יִמְשֹׁךְ הַגּוֹי אֶת הַפָּרָה לִרְשׁוּתוֹ אוֹ לְסִמְטָא, וְקוֹנֶה אוֹתָהּ בִּמְשִׁיכָה וּמָעוֹת. וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם מַחֲזִירָהּ אַחַר כָּךְ לִרְשׁוּת יִשְֹרָאֵל, לֹא אִכְפַּת לָן.