Chullin 37 - 43
Blood in the Hole
"You shall not follow in their statutes" (Vayikra 18:3) is the Torahs warning against any imitation of heathen practices.
In our gemara this is applied to prohibiting the slaughtering of an animal or fowl in a manner which causes its blood to fall into a hole, because this was the practice of idol worshippers. Should one wish to perform shechita in his own yard and avoid dirtying it he is instructed to do the slaughtering away from the hole he has prepared so that the blood will fall upon the ground and then flow into that hole. This is permissible because anyone who sees him do so will not suspect him of an idolatrous practice but will attribute his action to a desire to keep his yard clean. Should he perform the shechita in a public area he is forbidden to use a hole for gathering the blood even in this fashion because people who see him will not attribute his action to a desire for cleanliness but will rather suspect him of being an idol worshipper.
Why did the idol worshippers want the blood of a slaughtered species to gather in a hole? Two different approaches are offered by our commentaries and their debate has halachic ramifications.
Rabbeinu Tam states that the idolaters gathered blood in a hole in order to later use it in the worship of their idol. Since they would do so only in a clean hole he rules that the ban on doing shechita over a hole does not apply to a messy hole.
This view is already challenged by Tosefot who raises the question that according to Rabbeinu Tam there should be no need for one doing shechita in his own yard to go through the complicated effort mentioned in the gemara when he simply can do the shechita over a messy hole. The conclusion of Tosefot that one should avoid doing shechita even over a messy hole is supported by Rashba who explains that the reason why idol worshippers slaughtered over a hole was that it was their idolatrous practice to gather around a blood-filled hole and hold a feast there. The cleanliness of the hole containing the blood was therefore not a factor.
- Chullin 41b
A Miraculous Survival
Iyov was an extremely righteous man whose faith in G-d was tested by Divinely imposed suffering which included loss of children and fortune and severe physical pain. His ability to intellectually cope with his tragedy despite his conviction that he was innocent of sin is the subject of the sacred Sefer Iyov. But his ability to survive physically is the subject of a debate in our gemara.
As a challenge to Rabbi Yossi bar Yehudas opinion that a punctured gall renders an animal treifa, the other Sages cite a passage in which Iyov complains to his consoling friends that "He poured my gall upon the ground" (Iyov 16:13). Since Iyov remained alive despite a punctured gall, they argue, this is proof that such a condition is not fatal in either man or animal and therefore does not make an animal a treifa.
The rejoinder to this challenge comes from the very same passage. Iyov also complains of his kidneys being cleaved, a condition about which there is a consensus that it renders an animal treifa. The conclusion must be that Iyov was miraculously sustained by Heaven, so that no proof can be brought from his situation.
The source for this miraculous dimension is the dialogue between G-d and Satan regarding Iyovs faith. After G-d praised Iyovs loyalty despite his loss of children and fortune Satan argued that if he were afflicted with physical suffering Iyov would falter. G-d then instructed Satan: "Behold, he is in your hand but watch out not to take his life" (ibid 2:6). This was comparable, say our Sages, to telling someone to smash the wine barrel but make sure to retain its contents something which only a miracle can achieve.
- Chullin 43a