The sixth perek deals with the mitzvah of kisui ha’dam. We learnt that if one slaughters a kosher chaya (undomesticated animal) or ohf (bird) that they are required to cover the blood spilt due to the shechita. While it is certainly a mitzvah, there is a discussion amongst the Rishonim as to when one should recite the beracha. Understanding this debate give us in insight into the mitzvah itself.
The debate is brought down in the Rosh (6:6). He cites the Behag who explains that the beracha should be recited after kisui ha’dam. The Rosh however explains that the general practice is to recite the beracha before kisui ha’dam is performed. This is in line with the principle that a beracha is recited prior to the performance of the mitzvah.
The Rosh explains that the Behag understands that kisui ha’dam is the “siyum mitzvah” – the end of the mitzvah of shechita. Consequently making a beracha prior to kisui ha’dam would be equivalent to making in a beracha in the middle of the performance of a mitzvah, which would be inappropriate. The general custom however, of reciting the beracha prior to kisui ha’dam is based on the understanding that kisui ha’dam is an independent mitzvah.
The Rosh cites the Behag that teaches that if one is slaughtering many animals and talks in between, he must first perform kisui hadam, and then recite the bracha again for the second shechita. The Rosh explains that this is consistent with the Behag’s opinion that kisui ha’dam is considered the gemar shechita.
The Rosh continues that evidence of this position can be found in a Mishnah we learnt this week (6:4). The Mishnah records a debate between the Chachmim and R’ Yehuda regarding one that wished to slaughter a chaya and ohf. The Chachamim understood that one kisui would suffice. R’ Yehuda however maintained that one should slaughter the chaya then cover the bloods and after slaughter the ohf and perform kisui. The Tosfot explains that the first kisui must be performed immediately since a new beracha will need to be recited for the second shechita. The necessity of not having a break between the shechita and kisui according to R’ Yehuda must mean that kisui is considered gemar shechita.
The Rosh explains that even thought the halacha is not like R’ Yehuda and one kisui would suffice for both chaya and ohf, nevertheless the Behag must understand that everyone agrees that kisui ha’dam is considered gemar shechita.
The Shulchan Aruch(YD 19:5) rules like the Behag, that if one talks in between slaughtering a number of animals, he needs to perform kisui ha’dam first and after make a new beracha and continue. The Rav notes that later however (28:1) that he rules against the Behag that the beracha on kisui ha’dam is performed prior to kisui. The Rav explains that it appears that the Shulchan Aruch really maintains that kisui is an independent mitzvah. Nevertheless, ideally one should treat it like gemar shechita and therefore perform kisui immediately in the case of a break.
Indeed the Taz raises a similar suggestion when explaining the Rema who writes “and the kisui is an independent mitvah, but the shechita is valid even if only deliberately does not cover [the blood].” The Taz notes that earlier, the Shulchan Aruch ruled that a break requires covering immediately, and the Rosh understood that this was because kisui was gemar shechita. Nevertheless the Taz maintains that the Rama holds that really it is an independent mitzvah. Since it is however related closely to the shechita (much like the teffilin shel rosh and shel yad) we ideally perform them close together.
The Rav however offers a different explanation. In shechita there are two laws. The first that is that it permits the meat to be eaten and the second is the kiyum (fulfillment) of the mitzvah. To permit the meat, shechita alone is satisfactory. When stating the kisui hadam is the gemar shechita this is only for the mitzvah. In other words, without kisui ha’dam one has not completed the full mitzvah of shechita. The Rav explains that intention of the Rama is to teach even though it is a gemar shechita, without it the meat is still permitted.
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