For the week ending 17 December 2011 / 20 Kislev 5772

Bechorot 37 - 43

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Which physical flaws make it possible to slaughter a bechor for non-sacrificial purposes
  • The flaws relating to the eyes
  • Other flaws in the structure of the face
  • Flaws in the tail, genitals and legs
  • When lips or cheeks are not symmetrical
  • Particular flaws in particular animals
  • Other categories of disqualification
  • The status of androgonus and tumtum
  • The flaws that disqualify kohanim

Flawless Comparisons

A moom – a physical flaw – disqualifies an animal from serving as a sacrifice and a kohen from performing the sacrificial service.

In three different places the Torah spells out the need for flawlessness.

The disqualification of a bechor (firstborn male animal) for sacrificial purposes is mentioned in Devarim 15:21. For other sacrifices the source is Vayikra 22:21-24 and for kohanim it is Vayikra 21:16-24.

Why was it necessary for the Torah to spell out the concept of disqualification in regard to all three rather than just mention it by one and learn the others from it?

The answer given by the gemara is that each of the three categories has a unique feature which would not be comparable to others.

If only the disqualification of kohanim was mentioned, we might have assumed that this is because they are obligated in mitzvot and must therefore be flawless in order to perform service.

From the disqualification of animals for sacrifice it would have been impossible to extend the concept to kohanim because the animal itself serves as the sacrifice.

And finally we could not learn about the disqualification of kohanim or even regular sacrifices from the need for flawlessness in the bechor because the firstborn is considered sacred upon birth and fit for sacrifice.

  • Bechorot43a

What the Sages Say

"Any chapter in the Torah which is repeated was repeated in order to introduce something new."

  • The Yeshiva of Rabbi Yishmael - Bechorot 43a

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