Bechorot in Partnership

Bechorot (1:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 years ago

Masechet Bechorot opens by discussing the mitzvah of peter chamor. The chamor (donkey) is unique amongst the non-kosher animals in that it is the only one whose first born requires redemption. The owner must give a kohen a lamb in order to redeem the foal. Alternatively, the owner must put the donkey to death.

The first Mishnah discusses the various forms a partnership with an Akum that would exempt the first-born donkey from peter chamor. The Yisrael acquired the ubar; the Yisrael sold the ubar; they jointly owned the donkey; the Akum cared for the Yisrael’s donkey and they shared in the offspring; or the reverse arrangement. The Mishnah learns this exemption from the verse, “I have sanctified all the first born in Israel” (Bamidbar 3:13). The specific mention of “in Israel” comes to exclude the first-born belonging to an Akum.

The Tosfot however cites the Gemara that teaches that two pesukim were required to teach the full exemption. Our pasuk only teaches the exemption if the Akum has joint ownership in the ubar, i.e. that the first-born must be all “in Israel”. The pasuk “…as well as ‘all’ of your livestock that produces a male, the first issue of an ox or sheep” (Shemot 34:19) teaches that an Yisrael must own “all” of the mother as well.

The Tosfot cites the Torat Kohanim that learns from an additional pasuk (Devarim 12:17) that if there was a partnership amongst Yisraelim then they would be obligated in peter chamor. The Tosfot questions the necessity in this additional pasuk. Our Mishnah was particular with the term “in Israel” to exclude the partnership with an Akum. Surely this implies that there is an obligation in a case of a partnership amongst Yisraelim.

The Tosfot answer however that based on their answer above, that pasuk specifically referred to partnership in the ubar. The Torat Kohanim however is dealing with the partnership in the mother.

The Griz (stencil, second answer) however answers that the exclusion of “in Israel” applies to both peter chamor and the bechor of a kosher animal. Indeed the pasuk cited by the Torat Kohanim is not necessary for peter chamor. This is because the pasuk that teaches peter chamor is termed in the plural. For a regular bechor however, the pasuk is termed in the singular. One might therefore think that any form of partnership exempt one from the bechor beheima. Consequently the additional pasuk is required to teach that the partnership is obligated even in that case.

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