The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 30 July 2011 / 27 Tammuz 5771

Chullin 33 - 39

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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The Prophet's Standard

"Oh L-rd, G-d, behold my soul has never been polluted; from my youth until now I have not eaten that which dies of itself (neveilah) or that which is terminally ill because of an organic defect (treifa); nor did loathsome meat (pigul) ever enter my mouth." (Yechezkel 4:14)

Thus spoke the Prophet Yechezkel upon receiving a Divine command to prepare his food in a particularly disgusting way, as a prophetic indication of the suffering in store for his sinful nation. On the surface this was an appeal to honor his sensitivity to anything of an undignified nature, and it indeed was answered with a softening of the directive.

Our Sages, however, saw in the prophet's words an outline of his superior standard of spiritual behavior, one that went beyond the letter of the law.

"My soul has never been polluted" cannot refer only to the fact that he did not willingly enter into contact with the dead, since Yechezkel was a Kohen, and this would have been expected of any Kohen. His point of pride here was that he was so disciplined in his thoughts during the day, that he was never the victim of polluting thoughts which would cause him to have a nocturnal emission.

"I have not eaten neveilah or treifa" cannot mean those meats forbidden to all Jews. It therefore refers to the meat of an animal which has no organic defect, but which is so close to dying that it is rushed to the I while it still may be slaughtered and eaten. Even though the halacha permits the meat of such an animal since it is not a treifa, Yechezkel avoided it because of this similarity arising from its proximity to death.

"Nor did loathsome meat enter my mouth" does not refer to the pigul, which is forbidden to all Kohanim when the shochet of a korban had in mind for it to be eaten beyond the time limit set by the Torah. It refers instead to the prophet's aversion to eating the meat of any animal about whose kashrus a question had arisen, even if the ruling was positive. (This is the source for what we call "Glatt Kosher.")

  • Chullin 37b

Bang Your Head Against the Mountain

If a Jew slaughters an animal belonging to an idol-worshipping non-Jew there is a difference of opinion as to whether the meat of that animal is kosher. One view is that even though the idol worshipping owner had in mind to offer some part of the animal as a sacrifice to his idol, his intentions cannot affect the validity of the Jew's shechita. Rabbi Eliezer, however, contends that the owner's intention does transform the shechita into an act of idol worship, which makes the meat forbidden.

But what if the animal belonged to the Jew and the idol worshipper merely gave him money as advance payment for a portion of its meat? Will Rabbi Eliezer rule in this case as well that the meat is forbidden?

This question was put to Rabbi Ashi who offered the following response:

It will depend on whether the idol worshipper was a violent person who would not permit the Jew to refund the money and back out of the deal. If so, then the Jew is considered as having resigned himself to being his agent, and the meat is forbidden because of this idolatrous intention. If this is not the case, however, then the Jew can simply say to him "Here is your head and here is the mountain. Either bang one against the other or take your money back!" Rashi explains that even though the money given by the non-Jew actually acquires a share of the meat for him, the Jew's ability to refund the money is considered as having renounced any role as the agent of the idol worshipper whose intention is therefore no longer relevant to the status of the shechita.

  • Chullin 39b

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