Meilah for Young Torin

Meilah (3:4) | Yisrael Bankier | a year ago

During the past week we have been discussing how and when the prohibition of meilah applies to various korbanot. One interesting case is that of bird offerings and in particular, regarding birds that are not at the correct age to be offered. Regarding bnei yonah (young pigeons) that were consecrated after they were too old to be offered, everyone agrees that even though the prohibition of meilah does not apply, one is still not allowed to derive benefit from them. Regarding torin (turtledoves) that are too young to be offered, there is a debate. The Chachamim maintain that it is no different to bnei yonah that are too old. R' Shimon however argues that in this case the prohibition of meilah would apply. We shall try to understand this debate.

The Gemara (12a) understands the position of R' Shimon -- despite the fact that the tor is not yet fit to be used as a korban, it eventually will be (it is mechusar zman). Rashi explains that R' Shimon is consistent with his position regarding the prohibition of oto ve'et beno -- slaughtering the mother and offspring on the same day. In that case, if the mother was already offered, since the offspring cannot be offered on that day, offering it outside the Beit HaMikdash would not be punishable with karet. Nevertheless, R' Shimon maintains that it is still prohibited to do so. In other words, since the offspring will be able to be offered from the next day, it has kedusha now.

The Gemara however questions the position of the Chachamim, asking how this case is different from any other case of mechusar zman. The Gemara answers that mechusar zman is similar to a baal mum (a blemished animal). In other words, with a baal mum, even though it cannot be offered, one can redeem it and purchase a replacement. With bird offering however, since a mum does not prevent it from being offered it cannot be redeemed. How are we to understand both the question and answer of the Gemara?

Rashi explains that the difficulty the Gemara presents the Chachamim is from maaser behema. There we find that even a mechusar zman is included amongst the flock when designating maaser behema. (Maaser behema itself is learnt from the case of a bechor behama that attains it kedusha at birth, prior to being fit to be offered.) Rashi explains that the Gemara answers that an animal is different from bird. Since it as kedusha even when it has a mum it can be reasoned that it also has kedusha despite being mechusar zeman. That logic however cannot be said for birds.

The Tosfot (s.v. bishlama) however appear to understand that the difficulty of the Gemara is from a mechusar zeman in general and not the isolated case of maaser behema. This explanation appears to fit with the simple reading of the Gemara that does not refer to maaser behema. In any event, there appears to be a debate between Rashi and Tosfot whether a mechusar zeman in general attains kedusha. That nature of that debate requires further analysis.

How do we understand the resolution the Gemara presents for the Chachamim? Why is the fact that animals can be redeemed if they have a mum such a critical difference? Why can we not focus on the fact that both animal and bird offering have kedushat ha'guf and will simply be able to be offered later?

The Keren Ora (s.v. ho'il) explains that this is what divides the Chachamim and R' Shimon. For R' Shimon it is sufficient that the animal or bird eventually be fit for a korban. The Chachamim however demand that at the time of consecration the animal be immediately fit for kedushat ha'guf (to be offered) or for kedushat damim (affecting its value). For a mechusar zeman, despite not being fit for kedushat ha'guf at that moment, if the animal had a mum it would be fit for kedushat damim. For this reason, the prohibition for meilah can begin at the outset. Regarding the young torin, since they are fit for neither kedushat ha'guf or kedushat damim the prohibition of meilah does not apply.


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