Chullin 61-67 -- Issue #141
The Chicken Before the EggHow do we know that it is permissible to eat eggs?
But why should there be any problem with eggs laid by a kosher chicken?
The Talmud (Bechoros 5b) states a rule that forbids anything that comes forth from an animal which is forbidden. This ban includes the milk and other secretions of forbidden animal life (with the exception of honey from a bee) and raises a problem concerning the milk of a cow. Before the cow is slaughtered it is forbidden to cut off any part of its flesh and eat it. So, why may we drink the milk which flows from such forbidden flesh?
The resolution of this problem is that in a number of places in Scripture there is reference to milk being consumed. One of these is the Torah's description of Eretz Yisrael as a "land flowing with milk and honey," leading to the conclusion that unless milk was permissible to drink it would not be utilized as a praise for the holy land.
The same problem which is raised regarding milk applies to eggs as well. If we cannot eat from the flesh of the chicken while it is alive how can we eat the eggs which come from it? The revelations which are found in the various passages about the legitimacy of milk are not there in regard to eggs.
An interesting source is proposed by the Ba'al Hilchos Gedolos. Our Gemara states that the eggs of a non-kosher bird are forbidden because one of the birds listed by the Torah as forbidden is "the daughter of the ya'anah," which is interpreted as meaning the eggs of that or any other forbidden bird. There is really no need for a source to prohibit eggs of forbidden birds since they are covered by the aforementioned general ban on anything coming from a forbidden species. The purpose of mentioning a ban on ya'anah eggs, therefore, is to communicate that only the eggs of a forbidden bird are forbidden but not the eggs of a kosher fowl.
Tosefos finds this interpretation of the Gemara a bit difficult to reconcile with the text. He suggests an alternative source. In regard to the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird before taking the eggs found along the road there is an exception made if the eggs are those of a forbidden species even if the bird sitting on them is kosher. This distinction communicates the message that if the eggs have been laid by a kosher bird they may be eaten.
Great Fish for DinnerThe Leviathan is a kosher fish.
Tradition has is that this creature, referred to as the great sea-giants created on the fifth day of creation, was removed from circulation but will be restored in the end of days to serve as a main course in the feast for the righteous. It is described in the Book of Iyov (41:6,22) as having the fins and scales which identify a kosher fish.
An interesting problem is raised by the commentaries in regard to the Talmud's need to prove the kosher status of the Leviathan. How could we possibly assume that the fish to be served at the feast reserved as a great reward of the righteous could be non-kosher?
Maharsha suggests that there was never a doubt as to whether the flesh of the Leviathan is kosher since it is to star in the menu of that great feast of the future. The question, rather, is whether it is to be classified as a fish, or whether it is a fowl which lives in the water, like some gigantic duck. The proof cited from the Book of Iyov establishes that it is indeed a fish, on the basis of its having the fins and scales that other kosher fish have, and thus assures us that the righteous will enjoy great fish for their great dinner.