The Extended Limb of a Ben Pakua

Chulin (4:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 9 years ago

Much of the fourth perek deals with the law of a ben pakua. Broadly speaking the shechita of a pregnant kosher animal exempts the ubar (fetus) from the requirement of shechita. The Gemara(69a) learns this from the pasuk (Devarim 14:6)*“And every animal that has a split hoof… in an animal you shall eat” The Gemara understands that this reference to “be’hema b’behema” – an animal inside an animal – refers to this case of a ben pakua*.

The Mishnayot dealt with the application of this principle in a number of different cases. The first case is where the ubar extends a limb outside the mother and it returns inside. The Mishnah rules that the shechita of the mother still permits the ubar. It is only once a majority of the ubar exits that it is considered a separate entity. But what is the law regarding the limb that briefly exited?

The Gemara (68a) cites two opinions. Rav maintains that the limb itself is forbidden. This is based on the pasuk, “Meat torn in the field you may not eat” (Shmot 22) – “basar be’sadeh treifa”. Rashi explains that once it leaves the womb, it has left the boundary and the mother’s shechita will no longer permit it, even if it returns inside. The Gemara explains that when the Mishnah states that “and it returned and is permitted” it refers to the place where it was severed. If however the limb remained extended outside at the time of shechita one would need to cut a little more, to include the part that was on the border. Even though that section was not outside to be considered a treifa and irreversible, at the time of shechita it does not qualify as “behema b’behama”. The opinion of Rav is brought down as halacha.

The Gemara however also cites the opinion of R’ Yochanan who maintains that if the limb had returned when the mother was shechted then the limb is permitted.

In trying to understand the position of R’ Yochanan, Rav Soleveitchik comments that one might think that R’ Yochanan maintains that issue with the limbs is only because of beheima b’behiema. Consequently where the limb is at the time of shechita is all that is important. Nevertheless the Gemara explains that R’ Yochanan agrees that the issue with the limbs is due to basar be’sadeh treifa. Why then does he maintain it is permitted if it returned at the time of shechita?

The Rav therefore explains that according to Rav the limb that exits is assur due to beheima b’beheima. Baser be’sadeh treifa comes to add on top of that, that it is forbidden even if it returns. R’ Yochanan however does not apply beheima b’beheima since the majority of the animal is still inside. Accordingly he understands that basar be’sadeh treifa cannot be applied.

The Rav however looks at the debate between the R’ Meir and the Chachamim regarding the level of tumah for a limb that exited prior to shechita. R’ Meir understands it is treated as a nevielah. The Chachamim however understand that the mother’s shechita is effective to “purify” it, rendering it a tereifa. It would appear that much like the pervious paragraph, they argue whether the limb is excluded due to beheima b’beheima. Nevertheless we rule like Rav and the Chachamim which would present conflicting logics.

The Rav therefore explains that the Rabannan would agree that limb is excluded due to beheima b’beheima. They argue however about the nature of this exclusion. R’ Meir understands that it is treated independently for all laws and therefore a neveilah. The Rabanna however would understand that since a majority of the animal is inside the exclusion is only effective to prohibit its consumption. For the laws of tumah however it is treated as a treifah.


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