When a Jew who does not know the five factors that disqualify ritual slaughter and the like concerning the laws of shechitah that we explained1 slaughters [an animal] in private,2 it is forbidden for him and others to partake [of the animal that] he slaughtered. It is close to being considered a nevelah because of the doubt involved.3 When a person eats an olive-sized portion of its meat, he is worthy of stripes for rebellious conduct.


יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים שֶׁמַּפְסִידִין אֶת הַשְּׁחִיטָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מֵהִלְכוֹת שְׁחִיטָה שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְשָׁחַט בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ אָסוּר לֶאֱכל מִשְּׁחִיטָתוֹ. לֹא הוּא וְלֹא אֲחֵרִים. וַהֲרֵי זוֹ קְרוֹבָה לִסְפֵק נְבֵלָה וְהָאוֹכֵל מִמֶּנָּה כְּזַיִת מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:


Even if [such a person] slaughtered [animals] properly in our presence four or five times and this slaughter which he performed in private appears to be a proper and complete slaughter, it is forbidden to partake of it. Since he does not know the factors that can disqualify ritual slaughter, it is possible that he will cause the slaughter to be disqualified unknowingly.4 For example, he may wait, apply pressure to the animal's neck and slit it, slaughter with a blemished knife, or the like inadvertently.


וַאֲפִלּוּ שָׁחַט בְּפָנֵינוּ אַרְבַּע וְחָמֵשׁ פְּעָמִים שְׁחִיטָה כְּשֵׁרָה וַהֲרֵי שְׁחִיטָה זוֹ שֶׁשָּׁחַט בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ שְׁחִיטָה נְכוֹנָה וּגְמוּרָה אָסוּר לֶאֱכל מִמֶּנָּה. הוֹאִיל וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ דְּבָרִים הַמַּפְסִידִים אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיַּפְסִיד הַשְּׁחִיטָה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ כְּגוֹן שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶה אוֹ יִדְרֹס אוֹ יִשְׁחֹט בְּסַכִּין פְּגוּמָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָתוֹ:


[Even] when a Jew knows the laws of ritual slaughter, he should not slaughter in private as an initial and preferred option until he slaughters in the presence of a wise man many times until he is familiar and ardent.5 If, however, at the outset, he slaughtered in private, his slaughter is acceptable.6


יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ הִלְכוֹת שְׁחִיטָה הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִשְׁחֹט בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁחֹט בִּפְנֵי חָכָם פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רָגִיל וְזָרִיז. וְאִם שָׁחַט תְּחִלָּה בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ שְׁחִיטָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה:


When one knows the laws of ritual slaughter and slaughters in the presence of a wise man until he becomes familiar with ritual slaughter, he is called an expert. Any expert may slaughter in private as an initial and preferred option. Even women7 and servants8 may slaughter as an initial and preferred option.


הַיּוֹדֵעַ הִלְכוֹת שְׁחִיטָה וְשָׁחַט בִּפְנֵי חָכָם עַד שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה רָגִיל הוּא הַנִּקְרָא מֻמְחֶה. וְכָל הַמֻּמְחִין שׁוֹחֲטִין לְכַתְּחִלָּה בֵּינָן לְבֵין עַצְמָן. וַאֲפִלּוּ נָשִׁים וַעֲבָדִים אִם הָיוּ מֻמְחִין הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שׁוֹחֲטִין לְכַתְּחִלָּה:


When a deaf-mute,9 an intellectually or emotionally imbalanced person, a child,10 or a drunkard whose mind became befuddled11 slaughters, their slaughter is unacceptable. Since they do not have [adequate] mental control, we fear that they blundered. Therefore if they slaughtered in the presence of a knowledgeable person and he saw that they slaughtered properly, their slaughter is acceptable.


חֵרֵשׁ שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן וְשִׁכּוֹר שֶׁנִּתְבַּלְבְּלָה דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁשָּׁחֲטוּ שְׁחִיטָתָן פְּסוּלָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן דַּעַת שֶׁמָּא יְקַלְקְלוּ. לְפִיכָךְ אִם שָׁחֲטוּ בִּפְנֵי הַיּוֹדֵעַ וְרָאָה אוֹתָן שֶׁשָּׁחֲטוּ כַּהֹגֶן שְׁחִיטָתָן כְּשֵׁרָה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


When a person whose reputation12 has not been established among us slaughters in private, we question him. If it is discovered that he knows the fundamental principles of ritual slaughter,13 his slaughter is acceptable.14


מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָדוּעַ אֶצְלֵנוּ שֶׁשָּׁחַט בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ שׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתוֹ. אִם נִמְצָא יוֹדֵעַ עִקְּרֵי הִלְכוֹת שְׁחִיטָה שְׁחִיטָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה:


When we saw from a distance that a Jew slaughtered [an animal] and departed and we do not know whether or not he knows the laws of ritual slaughter or not, [the animal] is permitted. Similarly, if a person tells his agent: "Go out and slaughter an animal on my behalf," and he finds a slaughtered animal, but does not know whether his agent or another person slaughtered it, [the animal] is permitted.15 [The rationale for both these laws is] that the majority of people who slaughter are expert.16


הֲרֵי שֶׁרָאִינוּ יִשְׂרְאֵלִי מֵרָחוֹק שֶׁשָּׁחַט וְהָלַךְ לוֹ וְלֹא יָדַעְנוּ אִם יוֹדֵעַ אִם אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת. וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר לִשְׁלוּחוֹ צֵא וּשְׁחֹט לִי וּמָצָא הַבְּהֵמָה שְׁחוּטָה וְאֵין יָדוּעַ אִם שְׁלוּחוֹ שְׁחָטָהּ אוֹ אַחֵר הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת. שֶׁרֹב הַמְּצוּיִין אֵצֶל שְׁחִיטָה מֻמְחִין הֵן:


[The following rules apply when a person] loses a kid or a chicken. If he finds it slaughtered at home, it is permitted. [The rationale is that] the majority of people who slaughter are expert. If he finds it in the market place, it is forbidden; perhaps [it was slaughtered improperly and] became a nevelah and was therefore cast into the market place.17 Similarly, if he finds it on the waste dump at home, it is forbidden.18


אָבַד לוֹ גְּדִי אוֹ תַּרְנְגוֹל וּמְצָאוֹ שָׁחוּט בַּבַּיִת מֻתָּר. שֶׁרֹב הַמְּצוּיִין אֵצֶל שְׁחִיטָה מֻמְחִים הֵן. מְצָאוֹ בַּשּׁוּק אָסוּר שֶׁמָּא נִתְנַבֵּל וּלְפִיכָךְ הֻשְׁלַךְ. וְכֵן אִם מְצָאוֹ בָּאַשְׁפָּה שֶׁבַּבַּיִת אָסוּר:


When an expert [slaughterer] loses his power of speech, but he is [still] capable of understanding, he can hear and he is of sound mind, he may slaughter as an initial and preferred option.19 Similarly, a person who does not hear,20 may slaughter.


מֻמְחֶה שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּתֵּק וַהֲרֵי הוּא מֵבִין וְשׁוֹמֵעַ וְדַעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹחֵט לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹחֵט:


A blind man should not slaughter as an initial and preferred option unless others supervise him.21 If he slaughters, his slaughter is acceptable.22


הַסּוּמָא לֹא יִשְׁחֹט לְכַתְּחִלָּה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן אֲחֵרִים רוֹאִים אוֹתוֹ וְאִם שָׁחַט שְׁחִיטָתוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה:


When a gentile slaughters, even though he slaughters in the presence of a Jew, [using] a finely [honed] knife,23 and even if he was a minor,24 his slaughter is a nevelah. According to Scriptural Law, one is liable for lashes for partaking of it,25 as [implied by Exodus 34:15]: "[Lest] he shall call you and you shall partake of his slaughter." Since the Torah warns lest one partake of his slaughter, you can infer that his slaughter is forbidden. He cannot be compared to a Jew who does not know the laws of ritual slaughter.


עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁשָּׁחַט אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשָּׁחַט בִּפְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּסַכִּין יָפָה וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה קָטָן שְׁחִיטָתוֹ נְבֵלָה וְלוֹקֶה עַל אֲכִילָתָהּ מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לד טו) "וְקָרָא לְךָ וְאָכַלְתָּ מִזִּבְחוֹ". מֵאַחַר שֶׁהִזְהִיר שֶׁמָּא יֹאכַל מִזִּבְחוֹ אַתָּה לָמֵד שֶׁזִּבְחוֹ אָסוּר וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ הִלְכוֹת שְׁחִיטָה:


[Our Sages] established a great safeguard concerning this matter, [decreeing] that even [an animal] slaughtered by a gentile who does not serve false deities26 is a nevelah.27


וְגָדֵר גָּדוֹל גָּדְרוּ בַּדָּבָר שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שְׁחִיטָתוֹ נְבֵלָה:


If a gentile began to slaughter and slit the minority of the signs and a Jew completed the slaughter or a Jew began the slaughter and a gentile completed it,28 it is invalid.29 [The rationale is that] slaughter [is considered an integral act, a single continuity] from the beginning to the end.30 If, however, a gentile slit [a portion of] an organ that does not cause the animal to be considered a nevelah, e.g., he slit half the windpipe and a Jew completed the slaughter, it is acceptable.31


הִתְחִיל הָעַכּוּ''ם לִשְׁחֹט מִעוּט סִימָנִין וְגָמַר יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ הִתְחִיל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגָמַר הָעַכּוּ''ם פְּסוּלָה. יֶשְׁנָהּ לִשְׁחִיטָתוֹ מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף. אֲבָל אִם שָׁחַט הָעַכּוּ''ם דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה אוֹתוֹ נְבֵלָה כְּגוֹן שֶׁשָּׁחַט חֲצִי הַגַּרְגֶּרֶת בִּלְבַד וְגָמַר יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי זוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה:


A Jew who is an apostate because of his transgression of a particular transgression32 who is an expert slaughterer may slaughter as an initial and preferred option.33 A Jew of acceptable repute must check the knife and afterwards give it to this apostate to slaughter with, for it can be presumed that he will not trouble himself to check [the knife].34

If, by contrast, he was an apostate because of worship of false deities, one who violates the Sabbath in public,35 or a heretic who denies the Torah and [the prophecy of] Moses our teacher, as we explained in Hilchot Teshuvah,36 he is considered as a gentile and [an animal] he slaughters is a nevelah.


יִשְׂרָאֵל מוּמָר לַעֲבֵרָה מִן הָעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁהָיָה מֻמְחֶה הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹחֵט לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וְצָרִיךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּשֵׁר לִבְדֹּק אֶת הַסַּכִּין וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתְּנֶנָּה לְמוּמָר זֶה לִשְׁחֹט בָּהּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחֶזְקָתוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ טוֹרֵחַ לִבְדֹּק. וְאִם הָיָה מוּמָר לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אוֹ מְחַלֵּל שַׁבָּת בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא אוֹ אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹס וְהוּא הַכּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה הֲרֵי הוּא כְּעַכּוּ''ם וּשְׁחִיטָתוֹ נְבֵלָה:


[Even though] a person is disqualified as a witness because of his violation of a Scriptural prohibition,37 he may [still] slaughter in private if he was an expert.38 For he would not leave something which is permitted and partake of something that is forbidden.39 This is a presumption that applies with regard to all Jews, even those who are wicked.


מִי שֶׁהוּא פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת בַּעֲבֵרָה מִן הָעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁל תּוֹרָה הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹחֵט בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ אִם הָיָה מֻמְחֶה. שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵנִיחַ דָּבָר מֻתָּר וְאוֹכֵל דְּבַר אִסּוּר. שֶׁזּוֹ חֲזָקָה הִיא עַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאֲפִלּוּ הָרְשָׁעִים מֵהֶן:


These Tzadukkim, Beotosim, 40 their disciples and all that err, following their path, who do not believe in the Oral Law - their slaughter is forbidden. If, however, they slaughtered [an animal] in our presence, it is permitted. For their slaughter is forbidden only because it is possible they blunder. Since they do not believe in the laws of ritual slaughter, we do not accept their word when they say, "We did not blunder."41


אֵלּוּ הַצְּדוֹקִין וְהַבַּיְתוֹסִין וְתַלְמִידֵיהֶן וְכָל הַטּוֹעִים אַחֲרֵיהֶן שֶׁאֵינָן מַאֲמִינִים בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה שְׁחִיטָתָן אֲסוּרָה. וְאִם שָׁחֲטוּ בְּפָנֵינוּ הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת. שֶׁאֵין אִסּוּר שְׁחִיטָתָן אֶלָּא שֶׁמָּא יְקַלְקְלוּ וְהֵם אֵינָן מַאֲמִינִין בְּתוֹרַת הַשְּׁחִיטָה לְפִיכָךְ אֵינָן נֶאֱמָנִין לוֹמַר לֹא קִלְקַלְנוּ:


When the Jews were journeying through the desert, they were not commanded to slaughter non-sacrificial animals.42 Instead, they would cut off their heads or slaughter them and eat as the other nations do. In the desert, they were commanded that everyone who desires to slaughter an animal [in the prescribed way] should slaughter only for the sake of a peace offering, as [Leviticus 17:3-5] states: "When a man from the house of Israel will slaughter an ox... and he will not bring it to the Tent of Meeting... [it will be considered as (spilled) blood]... so that the Children of Israel will bring their sacrifices... and slaughter these sacrifices as peace-offerings." If, however, a person desired to cut an animal's head off and partake [of the animal], in the desert, this was allowed.


כְּשֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר לֹא נִצְטַוּוּ בִּשְׁחִיטַת הַחֻלִּין אֶלָּא הָיוּ נוֹחֲרִין אוֹ שׁוֹחֲטִין וְאוֹכְלִין כִּשְׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת. וְנִצְטַוּוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר שֶׁכָּל הָרוֹצֶה לִשְׁחֹט לֹא יִשְׁחֹט אֶלָּא שְׁלָמִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יז ג) "אִישׁ אִישׁ מִבֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחַט שׁוֹר" וְגוֹ' (ויקרא יז ד) "וְאֶל פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד" וְגוֹ' (ויקרא יז ה) "לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יָבִיאוּ" וְגוֹ' (ויקרא יז ה) "וְזָבְחוּ זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים לַה'" וְגוֹ'. אֲבָל הָרוֹצֶה לִנְחֹר וְלֶאֱכל בַּמִּדְבָּר הָיָה נוֹחֵר:


This mitzvah43 is not observed forever, nor in the desert alone, at the time it was permitted to kill animals [and partake of them]. There they were commanded that when they would enter Eretz Yisrael, killing animals [for food] would be forbidden and ordinary animals could only be eaten after ritual slaughter. They would be allowed to slaughter in every place except the Temple Courtyard,44 as [Deuteronomy 12:20-21] states: "When God your Lord will expand your boundaries... and you shall slaughter from your cattle and your sheep which God your Lord gave you." This is the mitzvah to be observed for generations - to slaughter and then to eat.


וּמִצְוָה זוֹ אֵינָהּ נוֹהֶגֶת לְדוֹרוֹת אֶלָּא בַּמִּדְבָּר בִּלְבַד בְּעֵת הֶתֵּר הַנְּחִירָה. וְנִצְטַוּוּ שָׁם שֶׁכְּשֶׁיִּכָּנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ תֵּאָסֵר הַנְּחִירָה וְלֹא יֹאכְלוּ חֻלִּין אֶלָּא בִּשְׁחִיטָה. וְיִשְׁחֲטוּ בְּכָל מָקוֹם לְעוֹלָם חוּץ לַעֲזָרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב כ) "כִּי יַרְחִיב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת גְּבוּלְךָ" וְגוֹ' (דברים יב כא) "וְזָבַחְתָּ מִבְּקָרְךָ וּמִצֹּאנְךָ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" וְגוֹ'. וְזוֹ הִיא הַמִּצְוָה הַנּוֹהֶגֶת לְדוֹרוֹת לִשְׁחֹט וְאַחַר כָּךְ יֵאָכֵל: