Chullin 26 - 32
Half Full or Half Empty?
This is more than an issue of optimism versus pessimism. The law requires that the majority of both the trachea and esophagus be severed in order that a shechita be valid. Does this mean that more than half of each must be cut, or is it sufficient to ensure that no more than half is left unsevered - in other words, is exactly half enough?
The conclusion of the Talmud is that there is a consensus amongst the Sages that half is not enough in regard to shechita. But if the entire Jewish community on Erev Pesach was evenly split between ritually pure and impure people there is a difference of opinion as to whether the Torah's requirement for impure individuals to postpone their offering of the Korban Pesach till a month later applies here. Rabbi Kahana contends that half of the community is still considered a group of individuals and not a majority, so that the impure ones must wait a month. The Sage Rav, based on his interpretation of a Torah passage on this subject, argues that the half in this case is like an entire community which may offer the sacrifice on Erev Pesach even in an impure state.
Tosefos calls attention to the fact that in regard to the laws of carrying on the Sabbath from private to public domain, the rule is that an area which is exactly half enclosed is considered as being enclosed (Mesechta Eiruvin 16b), and no mention is made in that Gemara of the discussion in ours. The conclusion reached by Tosefos is that a distinction must be drawn between what is considered a boundary and what action is sufficient to render the meat of an animal kosher. If only half an area remains not enclosed we do not consider it an open area, but if only half of a shechita has been done we consider it incomplete.
- Chullin 28b-29a
The Whole and Its Parts
Is every part of the shechita process considered an act of shechita or is it considered shechita only with the climax of the process?
This is a dispute between Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan.
Both agree that if a gentile did half the shechita and it was completed by a Jew that the shechita is invalid. This is so because by severing either the trachea or esophagus the ineligible slaughterer has created a situation in which the animal is considered a treifa (one that is terminally ill because of an organic defect and therefore forbidden to be eaten), we cannot ignore the status he has created, even if his incomplete action is not considered shechita.
Where we see the difference of their opinion find expression is in regard to a situation in which a Jew severs a minor part of the trachea and esophagus of a sacrificial animal outside of the Beis Hamikdash,in violation of the Torah prohibition against doing the shechita of a korban outside of the Sanctuary. He then completes the shechita inside the Beis Hamikdash as required by law.
According to the view of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, the shochet in this case will not be guilty of violating the prohibition because the part of the slaughtering he did is not considered shechita, since shechita becomes a reality only when completed. In the view of Rabbi Yochanan, however, every part of the shechita process is considered shechita, and he will therefore be considered guilty of violating this prohibition.
- Chullin 29b