TalmuDigest

For the week ending 9 July 2011 / 6 Tammuz 5771

Chullin 16 - 22

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Shechitah with something connected to the earth
  • What sort of meat was consumed before entering Eretz Yisrael
  • Which instrument is invalid for shechitah
  • The flaws which can disqualify a knife for shechitah
  • The incomplete shechitah and the misplaced cut
  • Things that can disqualify shechitah
  • Is shechitah of fowl of Torah origin
  • The fatal fall of the Kohen Eli and its relationship to the laws of treifah
  • The oleh and chatat sacrifices of fowl
  • Which fowl qualify for sacrifice

The Fatal Fall

  • Chullin 21a

An interesting incident in Jewish history is mentioned in our gemara in the course of a discussion on what sort of physical disability causes an animal to become a treifah, a creature with a short lease on life and therefore forbidden.

Rabbi Yehuda quotes the Sage Shmuel as ruling that if the nape of an animal is broken it becomes a treifah only if most of the flesh around it is also severed. This ruling is challenged by citing a passage (Shmuel I, 4:18) describing the death of the Kohen Gadol Eli. As he sat upon a seat awaiting news from the battlefront where his two sons were among the soldiers fighting the Pelishtim, a refugee from the battle delivered the terrible news that his two sons were among the thirty thousand soldiers of Israelwho had fallen in the conflict. But it was only when this 98-year-old leader heard that the Arkof G-d had been captured that he was seized by a trembling that caused him to fall backwards from his seat and break his nape.

This is noted by our commentaries as an expression of Eli's righteousness, that he was more shocked by the loss of the Ark than the loss of his sons. But it does raise a problem in regard to the ruling of the Sage Shmuel, since it appears that death was caused by the breaking of the nape without the severance of most of the flesh around it.

The resolution offered by the gemara is based on the mention in the above-mentioned passage that "he was an old man and heavy", factors which caused his death despite the fact that in ordinary cases such damage would not create a condition of treifah.

What the Sages Say

"Each river and its flow" (An expression explaining why there are different customs in different communities.)

  • Rabbi Yosef - Chullin 18b

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