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This chapter contains sixty eight sections: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68

Section 1Edit

When slaughtering (Heb. ‘shechita’) a kosher animal for consumption, there is a process to be followed which is governed by a positive commandment of the Torah. This commandment is not like that of shofar, lulav or succah, which are obligatory, for if one does not desire to eat meat, there is no commandment that compels him to do so. However, when he does desire meat, he must follow the requirements of kosher slaughter and only then he may prepare it and eat, as the Torah states: “…you shall then slaughter of your cattle and sheep according to the rules you were commanded” (Devarim 12.21). The rules of slaughter for kosher non-domesticated animals are likewise from the Torah, inferred from the verse of the first born animal (Heb. ‘bechor’) that has a blemish: “But as the deer and the gazelle are eaten, so may you eat them…” (Devarim 12.22), where it is understood that such an animal requires the same procedure as a domesticated animal (Rambam, first chapter of Laws of Kosher Slaughter, and Sefer Mitzvos ha’Gadol, commandment 63). Similarly, the requirement of slaughter for a bird is from the Torah, as the verse states: “Any man…that traps a wild animal or bird and spilled its blood…” (Vayikrah 17.13), which teaches that a bird is like a non-domesticated animal in this regard (Sifrei, parsha “Re’ah”, IS THIS IN SECTION 104?).

The Talmudic sage Bar Kapara taught:

”The verse states: ‘This is the Torah law for animals, birds and all living creatures that swim in the water…’ (Vayikrah, 11.46). The Torah seems to have grouped all these categories together for a purpose, and it placed birds between animals and fish. To place birds under the same requirements of animal slaughter – the severing of the trachea (wind pipe) and esophagus (food pipe) - is not possible, as in the verse birds have been placed next to fish, which do not have any form of shechita (see the verse “If all the fish of the sea were gathered for them…” Bamidbar, 11.22). To require no severing is also not possible, as they have been placed next to animals too. How to proceed? We must conclude that they require only one ‘sign’ that slaughter has taken place (only the severing of one ‘pipe’ is required) (Gemara Chulin, 27.2, and see Kesef Mishna and Lechem Mishnah).

Section 2Edit

The details that comprise the laws of shechita were all related to Moshe our teacher on Mount Sinai as part of the Oral Torah, as it is referred to in the Torah: “You shall slaughter of your cattle and sheep in the way I have commanded you.” (Dvarim, 12.21). The actual command itself was also related through the Oral Torah. (Rambam there.)

In a Braisa (Tannaic statement) Rebbi Yehuda haNasi has said: “ ‘…slaughter …in the way that I have commanded you.’ – This teaches that Moshe was commanded regarding the severing of the trachea (wind pipe) and esophagus (food pipe), with the majority of one of these required for a bird and the majority of both for an animal.” (Gemara Chulin, 28.1). There is even a hint to this in the words ‘…in the way that…’, which is the Hebrew word “K’ asher”. This Hebrew word (כאשר) functions as an acronym, with the letter alef standing for ‘one by a bird’ (אחד), the shin standing for ‘two by an animal’ (שנים), and the reish standing for ‘a majority cut is considered as whole’ (רובו). In addition, when the word is reversed it reads in Hebrew as an acronym for ‘the majority of one is like the whole’. (Tosfos)

Section 3Edit

The shechita of any Jewish person is believed to have been done properly, since the Torah itself believes every individual regarding his shechita, as the verse states: “…and you slaughter of your cattle and sheep…” (and then give certain cuts to the kohen.) (Dvarim, 12.22) . By sacrificial meat we also find similar verses, such as “…and he slaughters the young bull…” (Vayikrah, 1.5). Here the Kohanim eat meat slaughtered by an individual without the requirement of witnesses to testify that it was proper.

Generally, the Torah requires two witnesses for monetary punishments, death penalty offenses, and immorality offenses. On the other hand, we learn that one witness is believed to testify whether an object is religiously permitted or not from the similar shared terminology (Heb. ‘Gezaira Shava’) of ‘Davar’-‘Davar’ which is written by monetary punishments (see Rashi, Gemara Chulin 10.2 (point 6 in link), also Rambam, Laws of Shechita, law 14at the end of chapter ten). Now even though the ‘presumption of being forbidden’ – (Heb. ‘Chezkas Issur’) usually invalidates a solitary witnesses’ testimony to permit, and a live animal is certainly in a state of being forbidden to eat, that rule only applies to a prohibition that one is unable to permit by his own action. Here, however, a person can make an animal permitted to eat, whether through his or another’s slaughter, and he is believed to have done so correctly (Gemara Yevamos 88.1). Furthermore, a person is even believed on his own property to declare it permissible, for the reason that he is able to rectify the prohibition ‘through his own hands’ (Rosh, fifth chapter of Gemara Gittin,Section 8). This particular reason we have been discussing was originally propounded by the sages in regards to Tevel (produce from which the Kohen's tithe was not yet removed), where a person is likewise believed to claim that he has separated the Kohen’s and Levi’s portions, since he has that ability.

Section 4Edit

Now, according to this reasoning, can one slaughter an animal or bird of another and claim that it was done with the knowledge of the owner when the owner is not present to corroborate that? It would seem that he should not be believed, since he is a ‘single witness who is not believed to take an object out of its prohibited status’ –(‘Chezkas Issur’), and the exception given to the owner of an animal doesn’t apply here. In fact, the sages have explicitly stated in a similar case that an individual would not be believed if the matter was regarding Tevel (see the Gemara in Yevamos 88.1).

It is possible to answer that in this situation a single witness would in fact not be believed, though it is more likely to argue the opposite, due to the fact that the halachic authorities do not mention this case to prohibit it, and therefore it seems the shochet (slaughterer) is believed. The reason is as follows: Since this man has the status of a law-abiding citizen and he is not suspected of theft, if we believe that he slaughtered without the owner’s permission we would be treating him in law as though he did not possess his ‘kosher’ status. Since he has a presumption in law of being law-abiding, he certainly slaughtered the animal with the owner’s acquiescence. In contrast, this would not be comparable to a similar case by Tevel, where he would not be believed, for if he separated the tithes of his friend’s crops without his knowledge he has not stolen anything, since that in truth belongs to the Kohen and Levi. Therefore, we are able to disregard his claim without hurting his status of law-abiding citizenhood, and the crops are still considered Tevel. By Shechita this would not be possible, and to not believe him would in effect make him a thief.

[This might be the intent of the Mordechai in the beginning of Gemara Chulin, point 574, where he states in the name of Rabbi Eliezer from Mitz that the rule to disbelieve a singular witness only applies to rakes and brigands, but not to those of law-abiding status. (see there). His statement does appear baffling though, and see the Pri Megadim in his introduction (Shoresh 5) for an explanation of its difficulties. According to our words, however, his intent may be the very reason we have given for the situation when the animal or bird does not belong to the shochet and the owner is not present. If you look into the matter you will find it acceptable.]

Section 5Edit

This brings us to the following question: Since the basic permit to believe a single witness by slaughter (‘shechita’) is because he can repair the matter himself, why would a person who is not a shochet be believed - even on his own animal – to say it was slaughtered properly simply because it is ‘in his hand’ to repair the matter by asking an expert shochet to do it? Why wouldn’t we say “who knows if he has found the expert he seeks?”, much like the Gemara in Shabbos 46.2 that states in regard to hiring an expert to determine if one’s firstborn animal has a blemish: “Who says he has met a qualified expert?” (see there).

Because of this problem it would seem that a butcher would not be believed to claim that his animal was slaughtered properly unless he is corroborated by the managing shochet who oversees the slaughtering in the town. If, however, the town is a small one without a certified shochet, and a lay person brings a shochet from the city or takes his animal to the shochet in the city, we can again ask why would the lay person be believed? This can hardly be called ‘in his hand to repair the matter’?

Nevertheless, the answer that must be said is that it is ‘in his hand’, since there are shochtim in the world who take payment for their services, and he is able to hire one of them. [THIS DOES NOT SEEM TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, WHICH SHOULD BE ABOUT TESTIFYING ON A MATTER ONE IS UNQUALIFIED FOR, RATHER THAN IF ‘IN HIS HAND’ INCLUDES HIRING OTHERS.]

[And as for the Gemara’s retort regarding the firstborn animal, know that in that instance the expert cannot be paid for his service, as the Mishnah states in Gemara Bechoros 28.1. In addition, Rashi seems to imply in Gemara Shabbos that an expert would not want to check the animal on the festival day in any case (as the work does not befit the holiness of the day). According to this explanation, during the weekday the retort ‘Who says he has met a qualified expert?’ would not apply. See there in Tosfos further, and if you look into the matter you will find this answer acceptable. This idea also seems apparent from the Tosfos in the beginning of the Gemara Gittin entitled “Until here is called ‘in his hand’”, (see there) [SEEMS LIKE THIS TOSFOS IS ACTUALLY “ONE WITNESS IS BELIEVED ON PROHIBITIONS” ON 2.2].

Section 6Edit

The Rambam writes thusly at the end of chapter ten, law 14 of the Laws of Kosher Slaughter:

“Any butcher who knows the conditions that make a kosher animal non-kosher and has a presumption of law-abiding behavior in his field is permitted to slaughter, and to check slaughtered animals for these problematic conditions, as well as sell the meat he prepares. There is no concern here to apply the rule against believing the testimony of an individual in regard to prohibited objects, whether or not he benefits from his claims. Additionally, we have already explained that nowadays one does not purchase meat from a butcher that slaughters and checks for himself in the diaspora or in the Land of Israel unless he is an expert.”

Until here is his quote, and he writes as well in chapter eight, law 7 of the Laws of Forbidden Foods the following:

“…And one should not purchase meat from a butcher unless he is known as a law-abiding in religious matters and he has a presumption of being a proper butcher, in that he slaughters for himself as well as sells and is trusted.”

Until here is his quote. Now in the Talmud we do not find this law, rather it is the result of the Rambam comparing the issue to what is written in chapter ‘Ein Ma’ameedim’ (Gemara Avodah Zara, 39.2): “We do not buy wine… in Syria, unless it is from an expert.” (see there). Certainly, then, this should apply to meat. One could also derive from this comparison that if one cannot purchase wine in Syria unless the seller is expert, certainly disaspora lands farther away from Israel should have the same rule. Even the Land is Israel itself is now like the diaspora, as we now longer have the Sandhedric court system to oversee the community. In summary, because the application of the rules of wine to meat is clear the Talmud did not trouble itself to mention them specifically by meat. [See further in the Magid Mishna and Lechem Mishnah, as well as the Beis Yosef in the Tur, chapter 119.]

Section 7Edit

Furthermore, the Rambam’s words in chapter eleven, law 25 offer an additional proof of the idea expressed above:

“Nowadays we do not buy wine just anywhere, rather only from a person who has a clear presumption of law-abiding behavior in religious matters, and the same applies for meat and cheese…”

Note that the Ra’avad disputes this rule, with the reasoning that an unlearned person is not suspected to sell a prohibited item unless he has established a historical track record of doing so (see there). This is also the position of the Tur and Beis Yosef in the beginning of chapter 119, where they too rule that only one who has given reason to be suspected is suspect.(see there). As for our teacher the Rema, he quotes the position of the Rambam (see there). It should also be pointed out that Rashi, Tosfos (both 39.2), the Rosh (Avodah Zara, section 40) and the Ran (39.2) disagree with the Rambam, as they explain ‘not buying wine in Syria’ as a place where the store owners actually had an established reputation of not being trustworthy (see there [on 39.2]). Therefore, it’s clear that barring a negative reputation, anyone would be believed that his items are permitted, as the Ra’avad asserts.

Section 8Edit

In the Yirushalmi , at the end of the second chapter of Avodah Zara, Law 9 (12.2), meat is, in fact, mentioned. This is the relevant quote:

“Tichealas (blue wool for tzitzis) is only bought from an expert. Cheese is not bought from the area of Beis Unkee (since its calves were slaughtered for idol worship), unless from an expert. Wine is not bought in Syria unless from an expert. Meat that has no recognizable sign is not bought except through an expert.”

Until here is the quote. Of course, those that argue with the Rambam would explain that this too is speaking of a place where the shop owners are suspect, and would otherwise not apply elsewhere. As an additional note, the Tosefta at the end of the fifth chapter (section 7)has a text similar to that of the Yirushalmi (see there).

Section 9Edit

The question that now arises in regards to the Rmabam’s position is if it only applies to a shochet who slaughters and sells himself, where he would need to be an expert, but would not apply to a butcher who sells meat that another slaughtered. In this case he might not have to be an expert himself, and would be believed to claim that the meat was slaughtered by an expert. However, it is possible that the Rambam might indeed require in this case too that the butcher be an expert or at least produce the identity of the shochet.

From the words of the Tur and Beis Yosef at the end of chapter 65, who repeat the statement of the Rambam - that a butcher who slaughters and sells by himself is not believed unless he has established a presumption of producing kosher meat – it appears that only in this specific case would he be required to be an expert. The Rema comments along these lines in his work as well (Darkei Moshe, section 12, see there). To sum up, even though the basic law of who is believed as shochet does not follow the Rambam, as was proven from their words in chapter 119, as I have written, (see there in the Shach 4 and Pre Chadash,1st paragraph), nevertheless in this particular case the law is as the Rambam asserts, since the shochet is specifically slaughtering to sell, and there is reason to suspect him if he is not established as an expert.

Section 10Edit

In truth, it appears from his own words that the Rambam himself would rule that one always needs to buy from an expert, and not merely in the case outlined above, as is proven from his words at the end of chapter 11, which has been brought previously. Since according to this position there is no believability in the diaspora over prohibited items unless one is an expert, why does it matter if one slaughtered the meat he sells or not? Either way he could be suspected to sell improperly slaughtered animals and label them kosher, and why should the law be different than it is for wine and cheese? I have even found that one of the great authorities has written that the straightforward understanding of the Rambam is that there is no difference whether he slaughters himself or not (Torahs Yekusial, chapter 18, section 10). For their part, the Tur and Beis Yosef do not attempt an explanation of the Rambam, they merely point out that if a butcher slaughters and sells by himself, one should heed the to the Rambam’ ruling.

Following this line of reasoning, it would be clear that according to the Rambam it would be impossible to buy meat from a butcher unless he either a) had an established reputation of kosher meat production, b) was willing to disclose who the shochet was, or c) operated in a city with a kosher certifying body who oversees the kosher status of the city’s butchers. However, in a small city or town (and where the above criteria are absent), it would be impossible to buy from any butcher unless the butcher himself was to eat from that very meat, for in this case the Rambam would agree that the meat would be permitted, as he writes at the end of chapter 11:

”One who is a guest in the home of another in any place or time, and he is presented with wine, meat, cheese or fish – they are permitted to be eaten. One is not required to ask about the kosher state of the foods even though he does not know the homeowner personally, as long as he knows that he is Jewish.”

Until here is his quote. Certainly then, the meat would be permitted if the butcher himself eats from that very piece. Of course, if he has a presumption of not being concerned about kosher laws (as is further explained there), it is prohibited to eat by him and to buy from him, as will be explained in chapter 119 in the Laws of Suspect Persons, with the help of Heaven.

Section 11Edit

On the other hand, we could consider that the Rambam’s position would be equivalent to the words of our teacher the Rema (which we have previously brought), that even if one does not slaughter for his own consumption we do not suspect him. The reason is as follows: Our concern of an individual selling non-kosher food because of the profit motive would only apply to a rabbinical prohibition, like wine or cheese. Even for non-kosher fish, which are Biblically prohibited, we may be able to assume that in his estimation this piece of fish came from a kosher fish (since once in pieces fish species are hard to determine), and he would not be concerned to check more thoroughly. However, when it comes to selling meat that he did not slaughter himself – we would have to assume that he would not transgress a Biblical prohibition to feed other Jews non-kosher meat, and we do not suspect any Jewish person to behave thusly, whether he be a trusted expert or not, unless he has attained the legal status of one suspected to transgress Biblical prohibitions. Moreover, he certainly should not be suspected if he has used the services of a shochet, as the legal presumption is that most people found working as shochtim are experts in their field.

Section 12Edit

A Jewish person who is not familiar with the laws of kosher slaughter, namely those that invalidate slaughter, such as:

  • pausing in the act,
  • swiping or pressing the knife without cutting action,
  • inserting the knife between the esophagus and trachea, cutting one upward and then the other downward,
  • slaughtering at too high a point on the windpipe,
  • having the food or wind pipe slide out of place before the slaughter is completed,

and the like (as will be explained) – if he slaughters for himself without any supervision, it is prohibited for he or anyone else to eat from that slaughter, even if the knife itself has been properly checked. In fact, this meat is close to having the status of nevailah (a non-slaughtered dead animal), as it is very likely that he paused, pressed or incorrectly cut in his act without realizing. One who eats a kizayis (olive size amount) from this meat could have received Rabbinic lashes (when the Sanhedrin was in force) (Rambam, beginning of chapter 4).

Section 13Edit

Furthermore, even if we should see this person slaughter correctly before us four or five times – we do not say that his private slaughter is correct, rather we still consider his private slaughter prohibited, as though it were nevailah meat. This is because we say ‘Since he does not know what invalidates kosher slaughter, it is likely he ruined the animal without knowing it. The fact that he has slaughtered before us correctly is just a matter of chance’. [IS THIS CORRECT?]

In addition, even if we were to ask him ‘Did you act so and so? etc…’, and from his answers we would be able to gauge if he acted correctly – he still should not be relied upon. Even if he subsequently learnt the laws of kosher slaughter and then vouched that ‘I am certain I acted properly’, we do not listen to him, because any matter that does not weigh on a person’s mind he will not reliably remember later (Taz 8). Certainly if he has not learnt but claims that ‘I am certain about my answers to the questions you have asked me’ he is not to be relied upon (Shach 12).

Section 14Edit

The Rambam writes in his 4th chapter, law 3:

”A Jewish person that knows the laws of kosher slaughter should still not slaughter alone until he has slaughtered many times before an sage who is expert and has proven himself experienced and capable. However, should he slaughter privately, the meat is considered kosher.

One who knows the laws of kosher slaughter and practices before a sage who is expert until he is experienced receives the title of ‘expert’. All experts may slaughter alone. Women and servants may also slaughter alone if they are experts.”

Until here is this quote. Afterwards, he writes further:

”One who is not known in the community and slaughters privately is questioned about his knowledge of the relevant laws. If he knows the core legal requirements his slaughter is kosher. If one comes to the community, slaughters and leaves, and his level of knowledge remains unknown – his slaughter is permitted as ‘most who are found practicing kosher slaughter are experts in their field.”

Until here is his quote.

Section 15Edit

It appears to me that the Rambam’s use of the word ‘expert’ is not as his contemporaries, who define it as one who knows the laws of slaughter. Even though that is a given, for if one is unfamiliar with the laws his slaughter is not permitted unless another supervised him, nevertheless there is another definition of ‘expert’. That definition refers to one who is certified to perform slaughter, for this is something we are witness to, that there are people who know the laws of slaughter but are not proficient in the actual mechanics of slaughter, such as the movement of the knife, the proper position the neck, wind and food pipe, and similar practical concerns. (We are, however, not referring to one who wearies during the act, as it is expressly stated in the Beginning of Gemara Chulin that we are not concerned over weariness.) The Rambam only saw fit to mention that he is an expert in the mechanics, but of course, both criteria are required, that he be knowledgeable in the law as well as proficient in the process. This is accomplished by displaying his ability many times before an expert, who will see that he is able to actually slaughter in a correct manner. At that point he will be pronounced an ‘expert’ as well, and he can slaughter alone.

Section 16Edit

Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the difference between the two skills. One who knows the laws but is not expert in the process is prohibited to slaughter alone, although it is permitted post facto. This is because he is able to recognize if something is amiss, since he knows the law. However, when one does not know the laws, though he is proficient in the mechanics - that he is seen to slaughter many times correctly – if he slaughters alone it is prohibited, as I have written, because there may be a flaw in the slaughter which he will not recognize, since he does not know the laws.

Be mindful that these laws are in regard to the slaughterer himself [eating of his own slaughter].

Section 17Edit

When, however, a shochet appears before other people, who do not know the status of his abilities, the procedure is so: If they know he is expert in the laws of slaughter – they can let him slaughter even if they do not know of his mechanical skill, since ‘most found in the field of slaughter are knowledgeable and proficient’. Certainly, there is also no concern that he is not strong enough to slaughter. In contrast, one who appears to be only familiar with the laws of slaughter cannot be relied upon unless he has already left and gone on his way, for then the rule ‘most found in the field of slaughter are knowledgeable and proficient’ can be applied. Barring that situation, it is prohibited to let him slaughter unless it can be determined that he knows the law. The reason here is that the slaughter of one who does not know the law very well is not even kosher post facto, as was explained, and therefore cannot be relied upon.

As a note, the discussion on this matter in the Talmud is clearly understood according to this explanation.

[Here is the explanation of the relevant Talmudic portion (Chulin, 3.2): Ravina states that “All experts can slaughter”, - meaning all who are expert in the mechanics even though it is not known whether they can complete the slaughter without becoming exhausted. “When are these words said? When it is known that he is expert in the laws of slaughter.” – meaning that an expert also has to know the laws. - “If, however, they do not know…if he slaughtered they must test him on the laws…if he does not know it is prohibited…” – meaning to say: If this one who is proficient in the mechanics slaughters he has to be tested on his knowledge of the law. The final resolution of the Talmudic discussion is that “according to Ravina there is no rule that ‘most found in the field of slaughter are knowledgeable and proficient’…” – meaning that according to Ravina one is not permitted to slaughter unless he can prove that he is able to do the act correctly, although we are not worried for Ravina’s position, since we accept the rule that ‘most found in the field of slaughter are knowledgeable and proficient’.
However, when it comes to knowledge of the law there is no dispute with Ravina, as Rav Nachman himself states in Chulin 12.1, “When one is seen to slaughter…and has departed… and it is not known if he completed the slaughter correctly or not, why not use the rule of ‘most found’…?” – This means to say that he would certainly be tested on the law if he was present, though since he has left, it is acceptable to rely on the rule of ‘most’. Ravina adds to this that he would also require a test of the man’s mechanical ability were he present, and he would not let this man slaughter without that. The majority opinion of the Talmud argues with Ravina’s requirement, but supports testing for knowledge, which accords with the Talmud’s qualification of Ravina’s statement - “When are these words said? When they know that he is expert in the laws…”, which is a change from the language used previously. [NOT SURE ABOUT THIS LAST CLAUSE].The work Toras Yekusiel asks a similar question, [NEED HELP WITH THE REST OF THIS BRACKET]

Section 18Edit

This is the language of our rabbis, the authors of the Shulchan Aruch, in sif (section) 1:

”All may slaughter according to the law, even women and servants, even any person about whom it is not known whether he can slaughter without becoming faint (or exhausted), and even if it is not known whether he is an expert and knowledgeable in the law. It is permitted to allow these individuals to slaughter at the outset, and one can eat from their slaughter, because ‘most who are engaging in shechita (slaughter) have the presumption of being expert and experienced’.
When does the above apply? When this individual is no longer available to question. This is when one may eat from his slaughter and when we rely on presumptions. However, if this person is still present, we must check to see if he is in fact an expert in the relevant laws of slaughter. Though this is so, we are still not required to inquire as to whether he becomes faint or exhausted during slaughter.
There is a dissenting opinion that states that we do no rely on presumptions except on a post facto level, and in the first instance we are not allowed to reply on presumptions if there is any way to determine this individual’s knowledge and expertise.”
All this is applies to other people’s ability to assess this individual’s expertise and the consequences of that assessment. As far as the shochet himself, he is forbidden to slaughter, even if knows the law and is expert, unless he has first demonstrated his ability three times before a sage who is expert in the law, in order to ascertain that he is capable and competent in the actual slaughtering act, and to prove that he will not be faint or exhausted (Tur in the name of the Rambam).
Therefore, we have a custom that a shochet cannot practice until he has received certification from a sage who is expert, who has ascertained that this individual is knowledgeable in the law and is practiced at the actual process of slaughter. Because this is the general practice, we also have a custom to accept all who come to slaughter, at the outset, without checking their bonafides before or after, because all who are engaged in this field have already been certified before a sage."

This concludes this quote from the Shulchan Aruch.

Section 19Edit

The explanation of the above is as follows: Most of the rabbinical authorities define the term ‘expert’ as used in the Talmud as one who knows the laws of slaughter,while the term ‘presumption’ is used to denote one who has a presumption that he won’t become faint or exhausted. The Talmud then fixes the rule that most found engaged in slaughter are ‘expert’, and additionally, we do not worry about exhaustion.

According to this approach, we should allow all who come to slaughter to slaughter in good faith, and we would not check their bonafides before or after. In truth, many of the early authorities (reshonim) write that this is so.

(The Ma’or in the beginning of Gemara Chulin, as well as what appears to be Rashi and Tosfos’ position [see here, points 3 and 4], since they write “Therefore, there is no need to check him.” See also the Bais Yosef).

Section 20Edit

However, know that the Rosh writes in the name of the Gaonim (in the beginning of Gemara Chulin, section 5) that this rule of ‘most engaged in slaughter are experts’ - which seems to allow anyone to slaughter at the outset - is subject to their being tested after the slaughter on whether they are in fact expert. Although it is true that if one departs and is unable to be questioned, or if we had somehow forgot to question him, the meat is still permitted to be eaten, since we rely on the majority of shochtim (slaughterers), in no wise are we allowed to eat from his slaughter if he is still present and can be tested as to his knowledge. We are also required to ask him whether he can slaughter without becoming faint or exhausted (Rosh, end of section 6). The Tur likewise writes this opinion in the name of the Rosh.

The reason is as follows: We only rely on the use of ‘majority-based presumptions’ (‘rov’) in post facto situations, but never in the first instance. There are, in fact, many areas where we rely on ‘majority-based presumptions’ in post facto situations (as opposed to first instance), such as by checking the shochet’s knife after slaughter, where ‘majority’ claims are not considered unless the knife was lost, at which point it would come into play to allow the meat to be eaten. Similarly, the lung must be inspected, though if it has become lost we will rely on ‘majority’ considerations.(see there)

There are those that contend that there is never a concern for faintness or exhaustion, and one never has to be asked about it.

It turns out that even though one might have the ‘presumption’ of being an expert, he is not believed at first if he is still present. This is because of the fact that a small percentage of Shochtim are unqualified, and that combines with the natural prohibited state of an animal (before it is slaughtered properly) to nullify the ‘presumption’ of expertness. This the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch.

(The Rashba and Ran write in a similar vein, as does the Beis Yosef and the Rishonim (early authorities), see there.)

Section 21Edit

There is, in this, a question: Why is the meat permitted post facto? Shouldn’t one likewise argue here that the existence of an unqualified minority combines with the natural prohibited state of an animal to nullify the ‘presumption’?

Because of this problem there are those who answer that the sages' statement of “most found in the field of slaughter are expert” is phrased in a common Talmudic lexicon, but is inexact. The truth is all found in the field (not most) are considered expert (The Ra’ah in the work Bedek HaBayis [2nd paragraph]). Therefore, the requirement to test the individual in the first instance (‘L’chatchila’) is not a requirement of the law but is rather a pious practice (Rashba in Mishmeres HaBayis [SAME PAGE]).

However, on reflection, this does not seem to be the intent of the phrase (Rashba there), and it is more probable that the reason is due to a type of majority presumption (‘rov’), which is where the matter is found often and very commonly to incline in one direction (Tosfos, Gemara Bechoros 20.2 [in the comment beginning with “Chelev”]), and therefore it is not necessary to be strict post facto. Furthermore, it is not really possible to argue here that the unqualified minority should combine with the natural prohibited state of an animal, for just because there are those who are unquilified should the meat be said to be definitely not kosher? This is also merely a possibility, as the slaughter might have proceeded properly. If so, this is actually an example of a ‘minority of a minority’ (perhaps he is unqualified, and then perhaps he slaughtered improperly), and therefore it is enough to be strict only in the initial instance, when possible (Rashba there). In addition, a post facto situation would not allow the minority/animal status argument to be used in any case, as the animal is already slaughtered, and not in its ‘natural prohibited state’ (alive). In fact, the shochet has himself worked to permit this particular prohibition through his slaughter (See there.)

Section 22Edit

On the other hand, there are those among the early authorities (‘rishonim’) who propose logic that is quite the opposite: The phrase of ‘Most found...’ that the sages use is only speaking about post facto situations, when the individual was not questioned before he slaughtered, and the rule is invoked to exempt him from questioning afterward. However, in the first instance, it is prohibited to let him slaughter unless he is questioned, and even his assurance that he can be questioned afterward would not permit us to let him slaughter. This is the opinion of the dissenting opinion in the Shulchan Aruch(The Mordechai and Tur in the name of the Itur).

In the final analysis the law follows the stringencies of both opinions: In the first instance it is prohibited to let one slaughter before his expertise is checked, and if he is allowed to proceed without being checked he must be questioned afterward. Even after he has departed as long as he can be reached effort must be made to reach him and question him, unless he is so far away as to make the effort impractical (So it appear from the Shach, comment 5).

Additionally, When the Shulchan Aruch requires a shochet to slaughter three times before an expert, in order to ascertain his expertise and ability to withstand physical exhaustion - this is indeed in accordance with the Rambam’s point of view. However, according to what I have written, it is not due to simple practical concerns of ability and exhaustion, but rather due to the basic legal requirements of a shochet, that he be an expert in the laws of slaughter, which is required by the law, regardless of practical concern. Therefore, when the Shulchan Aruch writes that there is custom that one can only practice as a shochet if certified by an expert, our explanation of the Ramabm would consider this a matter of law (instead of pragmatism).

Section 23Edit

When a sage who is expert is considering bestowing certification, he should remember most of all that “The beginning of wisdom is fear of the L-ord”. This is certainly true in our generation, where apostasy, criticism and light attitudes towards the words of the holy sages of blessed memory have multiplied, and one hears people say ‘Such and such statement is proper, but this other statement is not sensible’, making serious matters light in their eyes, may G-d have mercy - It is certainly incumbent to check the candidate’s general behavior and attitude in religious matters. Only afterward should one focus on his actual knowledge of the relevant laws of slaughter and checking (the animal) - that he is well learned in the words of our rabbis the authors of the Shulchan Aruch and the great legal luminaries that lived subsequently.

The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (section 2) write that “one need not know every single law, rather as long as he admits that he would ask if unsure, as “Would a question of this law come before me I would have to inquire” - that is sufficient for him to be called ‘knowledgeable’, provided that he is not found to permit that which is forbidden.” Until here is their language.

The above is certainly true, as many questions have arisen on these matters, though it must be said that the above approach was more prevalent in their generation. In the current era, there are many works written on slaughter and the proper checking of the animal (‘bedika’), especially the highly regarded ‘Tevuos Shor’, which has been universally accepted, and all Shochtim can be expected to be well versed in its contents. Since most commonly occurring questions can be found in it, one who seeks to be certified should be able to demonstrate that he is well versed in the entire work.

The certifying authority should be careful to warn the applicant that he should not rule on any matter if he feels that is must be brought to an expert of higher caliber.

After this the sage should check the knife the applicant uses and observes how he sharpens it [CORRECT?]. Additionally, we have the custom to damage the knife greatly, to see if the applicant is able to repair the knife to its proper sharpness. The sage should also consider whether the applicant is able to ascertain correct sharpness and quickly smooth and sharpen the blade. If the sage himself is unable to correctly gauge sharpness, he should request that an expert shochet in the city be present to ascertain these matters.

After all these steps the applicant may be given a written certificate attesting to his expert state. At this point he should be warned of the need to review the laws of slaughter and checking (‘bedika’) on a continual basis. It is also appropriate to warn him regarding the need to study ethical works at appointed times so his heart will take care not treat this religious responsibility lightly, G-d forbid, especially since many rely upon him, and his punishment from Heaven would be great were he to be lazy in this regard.

Section 25Edit

We find in our era that there is a practice in small cities to hire a Shochet who is also employed as cantor in the synagogue. This is proper, though it is important that this employment is conditioned on the clause that this man should not spend an inordinate amount of time studying liturgical melodies, for if he spends much of his time delving into this subject and practicing with a choir he will perforce not attend to his studies of ritual slaughter, or the maintenance of his knives, as much as he should. Aside from this, over involvement in the arts has a tendency to lead to religious laxity, as we often witness. The problem is here is that in a small city there is no one to supervise or reprove him, and he is drawn to perfect his choral performance instead of his Shechita because of the praise of unlearned women and men in the congregation who enjoy his singing but do not understand the detriment it will cause to his slaughter. If I had it in my power I would abolish this whole practice. Since it does exist, a shochet should preferably forgo chazanus, lead the congregational plainly and without melody, and spend his time perfecting his Shechita responsibilities.

Section 26Edit

There are authorities that maintain that since certification is the universal practice today, the meat of one who slaughters without possessing certification is completely forbidden (Tevuous Shor, section 25 [SHOULD BE 24] ). This is an unusual stringency, and we do not find that such an enactment was ever promulgated in past generations. Earlier authorities did maintain that one cannot hire a permanent Shochet who is uncertified, however they never proposed to prohibit the slaughter of who is tested on his knowledge and found proficient simply because he has no certification, for there is no reason for such a stringency.

If there is a situation to be strict, perhaps it is this: If the man slaughtered and left, and the state of his knowledge is unknown, his slaughter will not be accepted if he has no certification, and we will not apply the rule “Most found performing slaughter are experts in their field”. The reason here would be that since he has already removed himself from the majority of Shochtim by being uncertified, this majority based rule would not apply to him. However, if he is shown to know the laws, and is expert in maintaining and sharpening knives properly, and he has cut the majority of the esophagus and trachea, there is no reason to prohibit his slaughter post facto (the Toras Yekusial writes likewise in chapter 18, note 7).

Section 27Edit

Know that the basic law is that when one slaughters and then departs, causing the invocation of “most found engaged in slaughter are expert”, it is still incumbent on those present to check whether the majority of the trachea and esophagus have been severed, for whatever checking is able to be done should be done. Now, however, when all Shochtim have certification, there is no need for this additional examination.

Of course, one who has been certified still has to review his studies continuously, and sharpen his knife properly on a regular basis, in order that he not forget the details of the law and the physical skills involved.

In this regard, the rules for one who slaughters is the same for one who is an ‘examiner’ – (‘Bodek’), who examines the lungs to determine that the animal is kosher. The laws and customs are the same for both. This is true even though one could argue that the requirements for an examiner should be more lenient, as a slaughtered animal has the legal presumption of already being kosher while one not yet slaughtered has the presumption of being in a non-kosher state. In addition, the majority of animals slaughtered are kosher, so that there would be a both a majority status and legal presumption of the animal’s kosher status. Even though this might imply that one would not be required have the lungs of every slaughtered animal examined, nor would an examiner need certification, nor would the animal be in non-kosher status – nevertheless it is appropriate to be just as strict with an examiner as with a Shochet.

Finally, there is a responsibility on the communal court system to oversee and inspect the community’s Shochtim and examiners-(‘Bodkim’) on a regular basis, to ensure that they remain expert in their field and demonstrate fear of G-d in their behavior, for the possibility of danger is great when the responsibility for slaughter and examination are given over to many people with little oversight, especially in our generation, when irreligious behavior has increased.

Section 28Edit

One whose nature is to become faint or exhausted should not be allowed to slaughter in the first place, even if he knows the laws of slaughter, and even if another is overseeing him during the slaughter (Tevuous Shor, [section 23]), for maybe neither he nor the they will realize that his exhaustion has affected the slaughter.

In a post facto scenario, where he has already slaughtered, even in private, and claims ‘I am certain that I did not tire’, his slaughter is acceptable. Since he does know the law, we can rely on the fact that if he hesitated or forced the blade during the slaughter “he would not feed us that meat” (Beis Yosef). There are even those who state that even if he did not make any verbal claims his slaughter is still acceptable, for if he erred he would say so (Shach [13]). However, other disagree (Tevuous Shor [comment 39]).

It appears to me that if the Shochet is in doubt as to whether the animal can be consumed by Jews the law would certainly side with those who prohibit it. However, if he is certain that the meat would be permitted to Jews his silence is considered as if he had announced this certainty, for if his silence can’t be trusted, neither should his verbal admission. The legal maxim of ‘silence is considered as speech’ could not apply more than it does so here, for he would have to be legally considered ‘wicked’ – as one purposely flouting the law - were he to be quiet while knowing that he ruined the slaughter.

Section 29Edit

When people know that an individual is not familiar with the laws of slaughter he can still slaughter if directed and supervised by an expert who is present. The expert must watch every part of the process from the beginning to the end, so that he should see if anything goes awry. For example, should he only see the cutting of one pipe (wind or food) and not the other, the slaughter is invalid, and we don’t say ‘since he has cut one correctly, the other was probably correct as well’.

There are those who take a stringent position and prohibit this individual to slaughter even if he is personally supervised by an expert. Since he does not know the laws, (like the case of a minor, which will be explained later) we are worried that he will invalidate the slaughter without realizing. This is the accepted practice and one should not deviate from it.

Section 30Edit

When people know that an individual is not familiar with the laws of slaughter he can still slaughter if directed and supervised by an expert who is present. The expert must watch every part from the beginning to the end, so that he should see if anything goes awry. For example, should see the cutting of one pipe (wind or food) and not the other, the slaughter is invalid, and we don’t say ‘since he has cut one correctly, the other was probably correct as well’.

There are those who take a stringent position and prohibit this individual to slaughter even if he is personally supervised by an expert. Since he does not know the laws, (like the case of a minor, which will be explained later) we are worried that he will invalidate the slaughter without realizing. This is the accepted practice and one should not deviate from it.

Section 31Edit

The Rambam writes in Chapter 4, Law 7:

”One who says to his appointed agent ‘Go and slaughter for me’, and afterward a slaughtered animal is found, but it is not known if the agent slaughtered or another – it is permitted, for ‘most found engaged in slaughter are expert’.

Until here the quote. The Talmud makes a similar pronouncement (Gemara Chulin 12.2). The Tur and Shulchan Aruch, however, do not mention this law, leading to the possibility that they instead apply the axiom ‘his goat or fowl has gone lost’ (which will be explained in the next section).

That said, it is more probable that the Rambam's use of the ‘most’ rule was a result of his opposition to the rule that in absence of evidence an agent is assumed to have carried out his instructions, as the Talmud itself explains there. The Rambam is seen to delineate his opposing view in Chapter four of Terumos [law 6]. However, since the Tur rules in Chapter 331 that an agent is assumed to carry out his instructions, even in application to Biblical laws, he has no need of the ‘most’ rule to permit this meat, as the agent is assumed to have done the slaughter himself, as he was instructed.

(In this the Tur follows his father’s ruling (the Rosh [section3]) in Eruvin 32.1, who rules in accordance with Rav Sheshes. In contrast, the Rambam rules in accordance with Rav Nachman (see the Rif and Rosh there.)

Section 32Edit

When one’s ‘goat or fowl has gone lost’ and he finds it slaughtered in a manner that seems proper, in a situation where the meat would not fall under the category of ‘hidden from eye, so as not be definitely identifiable’- for example the meat has a clear marking that makes its identification certain – and the issue at hand is only whether the slaughter was kosher, the Talmud concludes that as long as the meat was not left in an area that carcasses are left, like a trash store in a courtyard, it is permissible. This is because we assume the meat was found and slaughtered, and ‘most found engaged in slaughter are expert.’ We further assert that this individual must have changed his mind, decided not to take the animal, leaving it instead. Even if the individual were to have stolen the animal, the actual slaughter is still assumed to have been done by an expert, for as a matter of law suspicion of theft does not imply suspicion to eat non kosher food. This is explained in the Tosefta [2] in the second chapter of Gemara Chulin, and all the halachic authorities concur as well.

One should not think to dispute this from the Rambam’s opinion in the Laws of Slaughter, Chapter 4, Law 14, where he states that one who regularly ignores a prohibition out of desire is not trusted on the condition of his knife, and it must be inspected by another before it is used (as will be discussed in chapter two of this work). Although comparison to the case of a thief (who has ignored a prohibition) would suggest that a thief would certainly not be willing to have his knife inspected by another, [because of the risk of discovery], it is still possible to state that the Rabbis did not see fit to treat this case strictly due to a dual doubt (‘Sefek Sefaikah’): 1) Maybe he gave the animal to another to slaughter, and 2) Even if he slaughtered, perhaps his slaughter was correctly performed. (Taz, chapter 2, comment 9, Shach, comment 18).

Section 33Edit

All this above applies in a place where the majority of people found to be there are Jewish (Tur), and following this majority it is probable that a Jewish person either found or stole this animal and slaughtered it. Furthermore, this only applies to chickens, where it is not the custom for only butchers to slaughter them for sale. However, in the case of goats and other larger cattle, animals that only butchers slaughter and sell, if the majority of butchers generally found in that place are Jewish, even if the majority of passersby are not Jewish – it is permitted, for this is the intent of the Talmud in Gemara Baba Metzia 24.2 as well as the position of the great later authorities (Bach and Shach in comment 1.18).

Note that our teacher the Rema, in section 4 of this chapter of the Shulchan Aruch, writes that for the above to work the majority of the thieves in that place must be Jewish. The Rosh [7] writes the same, for if they are not Jewish, what does it matter that the majority found in that place are Jewish? After all, we are in doubt as to whether the animal was stolen, so the local thieves are the population whose make up we should be concerned about. In the same vein, there are authorities that state that when stolen, if the majority of thieves are Jewish, and the majority of the populous is not, the animal is permitted. (Shach 19). On the other hand, when the animal was ‘lost and found’, there is no requirement to ascertain if most of the thieves are Jewish (see there). Finally, there are those who argue that even this situation also requires one to check if the majority of the thieves in the area are Jewish (Levush [4]). It seems to me that this final opinion is authoritative, since even when the animal is lost there remains a suspicion that it was stolen. (This appears to clearly implied by the Rosh in Gemara Baba Metzia. Conversely, the words of the Shach, who is perplexed by this ruling of the Levush, require great analysis. See there.)

Section 34Edit

Now the above discussion presents a clear question: How can we assume the person involved was from the majority population in light of the known rule that a minority combines with a legal presumption to cancel out majority considerations? Here the minority population are the people who are not Jewish, and the legal presumption is that an animal’s natural state is not being kosher (and it is taken out of that state by proper Shechita). It seems that these should cancel the majority, and the answers provided in chapter 21 are of no avail, as is understood by one familiar with those answers.

Therefore, it seems to me the basic permit of the animal is caused by the evidence provided by the slaughtered animal itself, in that it has had its food and wind pipe cut in the manner proscribed by Jewish law. This that our Rabbis of blessed memory stated in regard to an animal found slaughtered is speaking of an animal whose slaughter resembles kosher slaughter, which in itself is good evidence of its kosher status. In truth, there is an opinion that this alone is enough to consider an animal kosher (Rashba in Torah HaBayis in the name of the Itur [bottom of page]). We do not consider this law, nor do we find authorities who rule this way, since this is not a clear proof, as non Jewish butchers will also slaughter in this manner at times. Even though this is so, it still provides evidence of status, and combined with a majority of Jews will remove the consideration that a non Jew slaughtered the animal, as this consideration has now become a minority of a minority (a non Jewish butcher who slaughters after the manner of Jewish butchers).

Section 35Edit

The Tur writes:

”An animal found slaughtered in an area where most of the passersby are Jewish is permitted.”

Until here is the quote. The meaning is as follows: Not only would the above apply to a lost or stolen animal, it would even apply to an animal simply found in an area where the population is mostly Jewish, that it would be permitted, for we assume it fell from one of the Jewish passersby and not from one not Jewish. Therefore, all the laws stated previously would apply.

It is important to point out that if the animal was found in a marketplace one follows the majority of the people in the marketplace, as it has probably fallen from one of them, rather than majority of the residents in the city (Kaftor V’Ferach [?]). This applies to the statement of the Tur, as the Shulchan Aruch only mentions the case of one’s lost animal that is found. In addition, be aware of the question he asks in comment 13, which requires much study. Attend to the sources and you will find that this is correct.

These laws will be explained in detail in chapter 63, with the help of Heaven.

Section 36Edit

An additional question can be asked at this point: Should not the meat be prohibited according to the rule that “meat that has become hidden from the eye is forbidden”, since he was not the one who lost it and he cannot claim to be able to recognize the meat as his? However, in truth, the Tur, in chapter 63, does rule to be lenient when meat is “hidden from the eye”, so this may not present a problem for him. (see there)

(This would explain why the Shulchan Aruch does not quote the Tur verbatim, as its ruling is as the Rambam, who considers this meat forbidden. This is why the clause specifically states “...which he has lost...”. Attend to the sources and you will find that this is correct.)

Section 37Edit

It has already been explained that all may slaughter, including women and even servants. However, there are those who posit that women should not be allowed to slaughter, and the custom is that women do not slaughter. This is true even in the face of the maxim that “what we have not seen done does not prove it is not done”, since in a constant practice such as slaughter not having seen is a proof that it should not be done (Shach 1). Therefore, it is the established custom that women do not act as shochet.

Furthermore, earlier authorities ('Rishonim') report in the name of Hilchos Eretz Yisroel [?] that women are forbidden by law to act as shochet, though this seems perplexing. Perhaps their understanding is as follows: Though we have previously established that we are not concerned with men becoming faint or exhausted from the act of slaughter, it may be that this does not apply for women, who often have a more sensitive temperament. Therefore, a woman would not be permitted to slaughter unless she was known to have the temperament that would not become faint from the slaughter. (This is the meaning of Tosfos and the Rosh when they write in their name [WHOSE NAME?] that “their temperament is 'lighter' “. This is referring to the possibility of faintness or exhaustion.)

Know also that the fact that women were permitted to slaughter sacrifices in the Beis Hamikdash -'Temple in Jerusalem' (Gemara Zevachim, 31.2) is likewise referring to women were known to have the temperament to slaughter, who would not become faint or exhausted. In addition, if one supervises her slaughter she would certainly be permitted, and here there were Kohanim -'priests' who were present to supervise her, especially since they had to be prepared to receive the animal's blood (Kaftor V'Ferach, chapter 25?).

Another reason for the early authorities' opinion can be gleaned from another statement of theirs', that women are not relied upon when a Biblical prohibition requiring tremendous work and great care is at stake (Tosfos Gemara Eruvin 59.1 and Gemara Pesachim, 4.2, as well as the Rashba in the beginning of Toras Habayis.)

According to the above, though women are permitted to slaughter, we are all aware of the amount physical labor and careful work necessary to properly sharpen the knife used for slaughter, and therefore, women are not relied upon in this area, as they will become impatient with the exertion and will not be exacting with the knife's preparation. This is in contrast to the Beis Hamikdash – 'Temple', where they were allowed to slaughter since the knives were always checked to be in sharp condition. There a knife that developed a nick was no longer used at all, unless it was possible to completely resuface the edge, as we find in Gemara Zevachim, 88.1.

Certainly then, it is prohibited for a woman to be appointed a communal shochet, for there is great exertion required in this posting.

(Through the explanation above it is possible to properly render the language of the Kol Bo [chapter 4], which Beis Yosef 3rd comment had wondered about: “They can slaughter for themselves but not for others...”, see there. Attend to this and you will find that all is in order.)

Section 38Edit

In regard to servants, the Tur employs the term “that are free”. This does that mean that a servant who is not in possession of himself cannot slaughter, for a servant is permitted as a woman is. Rather, the intent is that he cannot be believed, for on the whole the people found in this state of lifestyle are rakish and impetuous. The Later Authorities write likewise, and there is none who argue against their position.

(The Shulchan Aruch's language is simply 'servants', though the meaning is the same as above, for the author simply assumes the reader knows that a servant, like anyone else, needs to be recognized to be knowledgeable and G-d fearing before he is allowed to slaughter (Pri Chadash) [THIS SHOULD BE SHACH 2])

Section 39Edit

An individual who is deaf, who neither hears nor speaks, whether born that way or become so later in life, is prohibited to act as shochet, even if he knows the laws of slaughter. So too, one who is not in his right mind, whether exhibiting behavior that the sages of blessed memory deemed senseless in Gemara Chagiga [4.1], such as going out alone at night in places people do not usually go alone, tearing one's garment, sleeping in a cemetery, destroying objects in a senseless manner, or any other aberrant behavior that suggests that one is not behaving in a sane manner, including one whose intellectual capacity is so reduced that he is not able to understand basic cause and effect, (as I have explained in Choshen Mishpat, chpater 35, section 7), is prohibited to act as shochet even were he to know the laws, for his lack of sane behavior will cause all his actions to be ruinous.

If, however, an expert will supervise his slaughter from beginning to end to make sure that all his actions are correct, his slaughter is permitted, even if he does not know the laws, as long as he can direct his hands skillfully, as in the case of a minor, which will be explained. There is even an opinion that he need not be able to direct is hands skillfully (Tevous Shor, [comment 48]).

It appears to me that it is impossible to permit the slaughter of one who is deaf or lacking sanity if he cannot skillfully direct his own hands, even if he is supervised, for we do not find that these categories of people enjoy consideration in the law beyond that of a minor.

(The Tevuous Shor himself writes that logic and reason would dictate this. The position that he infers from the early authorities - “Rishonim”, that this law only applies to minors, is a wonder to me – for they mention a minor simply because they are discussing age, which is not applicable by one who is deaf or lacking sanity. Attend the sources and this reasoning will be clear.) [IS THIS CORRECT?]

Section 40Edit

According to the opinion of our teacher the Beis Yosef, a minor who is able to skillfully direct his hands and who is expert is permitted to slaughter if supervised. If he cannot direct his hands skillfully and is not an expert in this field, his slaughter is only permitted post facto, and only if he is supervised, since as a matter of basic law he is prohibited to slaughter initially.

The later authorities ('achronim'), however, dispute this ruling. They maintain the following:

  • If he cannot direct his hands skillfully his slaughter is invalid even if he knows the laws of slaughter and is supervised, for this in not considered an intelligent act of man, rather it is just as if a monkey had performed the deed (Yam Shel Shlomo and Tevuous Shor [section 30]).
  • If he knows how to direct his hands, but does not know the law, his slaughter is permitted post facto, if he is supervised by one who watches the deed from beginning to end, though as a matter of basic law this is forbidden (see there).
  • If he knows how to direct his hands and is knowledgeable in the law he is permitted to slaughter initially, provided one supervises him from the beginning to the end (see there).

Either way, if he does not have supervision his slaughter is invalid, even if knows how to direct his hands and knows the laws of slaughter. Concerning this requirement there is no dispute. There is even an opinion that does not allow him to slaughter initially, even if he is knowledgeable and has supervision, if he cannot skillfully direct his hands (see Pri Megadim, comment 25.)

A child is categorized as a 'minor' until he has reached the age of thirteen years and one day and has developed two hairs as a result of the onset of puberty (Magen Avraham, chapter 39, comment 1). This criteria follows the biblical law, as a minor's shechita is biblically invalid if he is unsupervised since he is unable to testify to the shechita's validity himself (Shach, comment 27). This is because testimony is not accepted on any biblical prohibition if the witness is not an adult both in years and in physiology, as is explained in Even Ezer, chapter 169. From here it also follows that in a community where women slaughter they are required to have reached the age of twelve years and one day and have physiological signs of the onset of adulthood.

There are those who are particular not to give certification to those who are below eighteen years of age, which is the age when the adult mindset starts to demonstrate its dominance. There is proof to this from the Talmud (end of fifth chapter of Gemara Shabbos regarding King Yoshiyahu), see there). Truthfully though, everything depends on the individual under consideration (Shach and Taz).

Section 41Edit

All those who are prohibited to slaughter, whose shechita is invalid if it lacks supervision, cannot even slaughter to prepare food for dogs, as people who see them slaughter might take them for proper shochtim. ([2nd Tosfos ] in the beginning of Gemara Chulin). It is for this very reason that we exempt them from covering the blood of the animals they slaughter [the commandment of 'Keesui Dam'], and indeed one is forbidden to cover that blood lest people will assume the meat is permitted (as I write in chapter 28).

So how should meat be prepared for animal consumption or for industrial use? If it is possible for a valid shochet to slaughter the animal this is the preferred option. It would then be proper to prepare and eat a bit of that meat, for if not it would be impossible to make the blessing before shechita. If it is impossible to use a valid shochet, the animal should be slaughtered in a manner that is obviously invalid ...[NOT SURE OF TRANSLATION]... a knife that is not used for shechita should be used, for even a damaged shechita knife should not be used, so that it is obvious to all that the animal is a carcass - 'Nevaila', and not fit to eat (Tevuous Shor,[comment 55]).

It seems to me that a damaged shechita knife can be used, since all know that without checking the lungs an animal cannot be declared permitted, and when a damaged knife is used the resulting invaliding damage will be obvious to anyone who is inspecting the animal [NOT SURE ABOUT THE END OF THIS CLAUSE].

There are those that explain that the preference of using a valid shochet is because it is not proper to personally cause an otherwise kosher animal to become a non kosher carcass 'Nevaila' (see there). Furthermore, this may fall under the prohibition of selling prohibited items, even to a person who is not Jewish, although there are opinions who would permit it in this situation. (See the Taz later on in chapter 117,[comment 2], and the Bach in Orach Chaim, chapter 551,[1st paragraph] as well as the Ateres Zekanim there [comment 6].)

Section 42Edit

Regarding an individual who is deaf but can speak: The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (in section 6) write that this individual should preferably not slaughter, since he cannot hear the blessing he pronounces, and blessings usually require one to audibly hear himself. Post facto his slaughter is permitted, for even if one did not pronounce a blessing at all his slaughter is valid, for blessings do not prevent the efficacy of an action, as I have written in chapter 19 (see there). Certainly, not hearing one's own blessing is not an invalidating factor.

It is further written:

"One who hears but does not speak - if he is an expert his slaughter is valid and is acceptable in the first instance as long as another pronounces the blessing."

This is specifically referring to a case where the other is slaughtering as well and has intent to include the mute man in the scope of his blessing (Shach comment 32). This ruling is comparable to that of beneficial blessings - 'Brachos N'henin', for example blessings over food, where one cannot bless on behalf of his friend if he himself is not eating. Conversely, this ruling is not comparable to blessings over obligatory commandments, since slaughter is not obligatory, for if one does not want to eat meat he is not compelled to slaughter.

There is a dissenting opinion that argues that one may bless for another even if he himself is not slaughtering (Taz comment 17), for this blessing is not of the class of blessings over food, rather it is a blessing of praise and thankfulness over G-d separating us from eating prohibited foods, and therefore is appropriate to the one pronouncing the blessing as well.

Section 43Edit

This that was mentioned regarding one who hears but does not speak - that he is permitted if he is an expert - was not written regarding one who speaks but cannot hear. This fact has troubled many of the great authorities.

However, it appears to me quite simply that the one who speaks will at least be able to demonstrate that he is somewhat familiar with the laws of slaughter. Even though we do not know if he is an expert , we can rely on the axiom that most found engaged in slaughter are expert. However, if one cannot talk, how can we determine if he knows anything? Therefore, it's impossible to apply the rule of "most" until we know clearly that he is an expert.

(It's possible that this is the intent of the Bach [bottom of page], as well as answering the question of the Shach [31].)

Section 44Edit

This is the language of the Rambam (Chapter 4, Law 9):

”An expert who has become mute, though can still hear, understand and has clarity of mind is permitted to slaughter in the first instance. Similarly, one who cannot hear is permitted to slaughter.”

Until here is his language.

His intent is to imply that one who cannot hear is only valid as a slaughterer post facto, because he cannot hear the blessing (Rosh, in Beis Yosef, paragraph "v'Cheiresh..."). Therefore, a shochet who has become mute is allowed to slaughter in the first instance when another pronounces the blessing, as I've written.

In my limited understanding, it appears that in textual arrangements such as this the Rambam's intent is usually not to conceal but to reveal. That is why I have explained it in the manner above, even though this law is not found in the Talmud and even though the language "is permitted to slaughter" seems to imply the first instance and not post facto .

If not for the words of the Rabbis it would appear to me that his intent is so: Even though by terumah and other commandments one should not perform the act if unable to pronounce the blessing, that is only because all Jews are able to separate terumah and it is not the work of an expert. On the other hand, slaughter is an area where most are not expert, and an average person is not able to slaughter, so allowance is made in the form of a leniency that one need not refrain because of the inability to say the blessing. In addition, here the Rambam can follow his own position as stated in the first chapter of Brachos, where he states that one can fulfill the need to make a blessing even if he merely thinks it in his mind, though only on a post facto basis (see there). This then would be what he's teaching, that an expert who is mute can slaughter in the first instance and think the blessing in his heart, since it is impossible for him in any other way. Certainly then when one cannot hear but can speak he is able to bless even though he does not hear it himself, and his slaughter would be permitted in the first instance. As a matter of practical law, though, it is impossible to dispute the ruling of our rabbis.

Section 45Edit

A man who is intoxicated to the extent that he is not aware of his own actions ('the intoxication of Lot') may not slaughter even if he is supervised, though it would be permitted post facto if he was supervised. Without supervision, however, it would be forbidden in all cases, for it is like the slaughter of one who is not sane.

If he has not reached this level of intoxication he should still not slaughter in the first instance because his movements and reflexes are slowed and he may come to pressing the knife in the act. Even if one is supervising him there is reason to be concerned and refrain (Tevuous Shor [63]).

In this state it is permitted post facto even if he is unsupervised as long as he is aware that he has not reached the intoxication of Lot. If the matter is questionable it is forbidden for it is a case of Biblical doubt.

One who has accustomed himself to drink fermented wines such as brandy and cognac in large amounts should be prevented from engaging in shechita until he has resolved quite clearly that he will separate himself from those beverages. Certainly while under even moderate influence of these beverages he will fail to sharpen his knife properly, and will not be able to discern small nicks. This behavior has unfortunately been found to exist in various locales, and therefore oversight is necessary in regard to it.

Section 46Edit

One who is blind in both eyes should not slaughter initially even if he is an expert, for he still may not be able to slaughter properly. If he did slaughter, the food and wind pipes should be examined, and if they are properly severed the animal is permitted, even if he was unsupervised. In our days we have never seen one who is completely blind appointed as a shochet, since there are authorities who prohibit his slaughter initially even when supervised (see there in comment 67 in the name of the Ri'az).

Section 47Edit

One who is unclothed is forbidden to slaughter since it is not possible for him to pronounce the blessing in that state. Even if another were to turn his face away and pronounce the blessing it is still prohibited, as the slaughterer is required to listen to and have intent that the blessing applies to him and he is forbidden to think about the blessing in his state. This applies even when one is dressed, if his garments do not in some way create a separation at his waist (lit - “between his heart and his nakedness”).

(The Tevuous Shor (section 38) writes that one needs to wear a belt even if he is already wearing pants (see there). There does not seem to be a solid reason for this, as is explained in the Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim, chapter 91, and it seems to be merely be an extra-legal religious stringency. The current practice is not to require it.)

Section 48Edit

Though I have previously written that those classified as deaf, of unsound mind, or minors cannot slaughter if not supervised, they are allowed to act as agents to deliver a slaughtered bird or animal, and there is no concern that they may switch this meat for other. They have the legal presumption-('chazakah') that what is found in their hands is what was given to them.

However, when one sends them with a live animal to have it slaughtered, it appears from reason that their testimony of its kosher slaughter would not be sufficient, and additional corroboration is necessary. For how can we, for example, rely on the report of a minor, whose report has no legal validity? We even find an early authority -('Rishon' ) who writes thus (The Ra'ah in Bedek Habayis [page 15]).

This reasoning seems to be contradicted by the widespread accepted practice of having young boys and girls bring chickens to the shochet for slaughter, where no one asks for further proof, nor have we found anyone who opens their mouth to protest. Therefore, we are forced to conclude that when we speak of the legal unreliability of a minor’s word, that is only referring to extracting money in court, or some similar situation that requires testimony that meets true legal standards, or when a minor claims to have done an action requiring great exertion. However, when they are sent on an errand that does not entail great exertion certainly there is no reason to suppose that they have performed it inappropriately and brought back forbidden items. This is not really a type of testimony, rather it is falls under the class of presumption -('chazakah'), as 'we are all witnesses' that they would carry out what they are commanded (Rashba, Mishmeres Habayis). In further proof, one of the great later authorities writes likewise (Tevuous Shor, comment 35), though he qualifies that they must be of an age where they demonstrate some level of mature behavior, as opposed to very young children.

It seems to be that one who is deaf can likewise be an agent, though not one who is not of sound mind, for one who is deaf has a sense of understanding and sensible behavior, though it may be weakened, but one who is not mentally sound is not considered to have sensible awareness at all and cannot be depended upon (Gemara Yevamos, chapter 14).

(In light of this the explanation of Tosfos in Gemara Eruvin 31.2 requires study, for he states that a minor is not relied upon to prepare an Eruv Tanchumin [reconfiguration of the 2,000 cubit area that one can walk across on Shabbos outside an inhabited area] (see there). One would need to admit that the reason is because this is an action of serious consequence, where one must proclaim “with this Eruv [food] so-and-so will be permitted to walk further in this direction tomorrow”, as I wrote in Orech Chaim, chapter 209. According to Rashi and the Ri it is easily understood, and so too from Rabbeinu Chananel. Even the words of Tosofs would support this, as he writes in his comment beginning “And where...” (see there). Look into this and it will appear all in order.)

Section 49Edit

Our teacher the Rema writes at the end of section 1:

”If a shochet is investigated and found to be lacking in the required knowledge – if he had previously secured a certification we do not rule that all his previous slaughter is non-kosher, rather we say that only now has he become unqualified. If, however, he never had certification, everything he ever slaughtered is ruled to be non kosher. Even all the utensils that were used to prepare the meat he slaughtered require kashering [purging of the non kosher substance absorbed inside].”

Until here is his language.

When this individual had received certification his past work is permitted because of a double-doubt:

  1. Maybe he had not forgotten the laws at the time he slaughtered.
  2. Even if he had forgotten the laws, he still might have slaughtered properly. Just because he is not an expert should we say his slaughter was definitely improperly done? Perhaps it was done correctly.

However, when one never had certification the first doubt is not considered a valid assumption.

Section 50Edit

The above is not universally agreed upon. The great later authorities have entered into dispute over this matter (Taz, Pre Chadash, and Gra). Furthermore, there are similar circumstances where double-doubt mechanics do not work. For example, in chapter 18 there is a case of a knife that had been inspected, slaughtered with, and afterward found to be nicked, creating a doubt as to whether the nick was created by the animal’s skin, rendering the animal non-kosher, or whether the nick was created by a bone and the animal would remain kosher. In that case we rule that if no bones where found to be broken the animal is non-kosher, even though there is a double-doubt: 1) Maybe the knife became nicked by a bone, and 2) even if the skin damaged the knife perhaps the specific area of the animal that requires slaughter never came into contact with the nick.

Now one can differentiate between these two sets of double-doubts, for in the first set the second doubt is closer to certainty as a shochet probably slaughtered as he always had done, whereas in the set involving the knife the normal practice is to run the entire length of the knife across the flesh being cut, and therefore the nick probably did interfere. Even if this distinction is so, it is difficult to apply the law in section 49 on the basis of a reason not found in the Talmud.

Perhaps one should permit this based on the reasoning found in chapter 81 regarding cheese produced from an animal later found to be a treifah [unable to survive 12 months], where the cheese is permitted based on a double doubt. Based on this, one might draw the conclusion that the slaughter of one who is not certified may also be permitted through the same mechanics. Know, however, that this comparison is faulty for many reasons (see Shach comment 8). In addition, the very basis of the comparison between the two has a flaw, for [in chapter 81] the animal was properly slaughtered and receives a presumption of kosher status, while here the validity of the very slaughter is in doubt, and therefore the animal has not left its natural prohibited state. Certainly, according to the opinion outlined in chapter 110, that a double doubt can never permit an object under presumption of prohibited status, there would be no basis to permit the slaughter in the above case whatsoever.

Upon reflection, it is more appropriate to compare the case under discussion to a mikvah (ritual bath) that was measured and found to be lacking the required amount of water. All items or people that have entered this mikvah would still be considered Tamai (ritually impure). The reason, explained in the Talmud, is that the apparent lack of water is a certain problem, and there is no expert present to determine if and when the mikvah became depleted of the necessary water. Now even though a double doubt does not enter into that discussion, the reasoning applies here as well: The deficiency in the slaughter is a certain problem, and therefore the animal’s legal presumption should be set at forbidden.

However, this comparison can likewise be challenged. While in the case of the mikvah the deficiency in the water volume is clear, and in the case of slaughter with a damaged knife the damage is obvious, in our case here the deficiency is not certain, for though he does not know the laws of slaughter, can it be said with certainty that his slaughter was incorrectly performed? It is merely a concern, and this slaughter probably was no different than the majority of his past slaughter [which was acceptable]. In contrast, the mikvah and knife cases are quite the opposite when considered (so it seems to me).

Section 51Edit

Truthfully, one who examines the Rema’s work Dakei Moshe (comment 11) will see explicitly a reason to permit, and this is the quote:

”...and if the shochtim and bodkim have been tested and found to be not knowledgeable in the law, the Agudah [13] writes in the first chapter of Gemara Chulin that all their previous slaughter should not be invalidated on this account, nor is there any need to kasher (purge) the utensils that the meat was prepared in, for the man has been found to be deficient, but not the animals have not, and their slaughter remains under a presumption of acceptability. We consider the shochet to be have retained his status, that until now he is considered to have known the law.”

Until here is his quote. Now understand: How could he write “their slaughter remains under a presumption of acceptability”, there is a doubt associated with it, which should render it under a prohibited presumption? Is it not explained in the Talmud that the only time we rely on a permitted presumption is when the doubt is regarding the kosher status of the lung or other body part, and not when it revolves around the actual act of slaughter?

It is therefore clear that the Rema’s intent is so: Certainly if the doubt has arisen due to the act of slaughter, for example with a damaged knife, there is no presumption to permit, rather there is a presumption to prohibit. Here, however, the doubt had arisen after the passage of some time, and the slaughter itself has already enjoyed a presumption of being proper. Now when the man’s deficiency has been uncovered it is somewhat ambiguous, for we may still say that until now he had known the law. Even though it is true that one forgets slowly by and by, nevertheless we are not compelled to say that a little forgetting caused him to slaughter improperly. This then mirrors [UNSURE] the case of a deficiency found in the lung, where we say that the slaughter remains under a kosher presumption. In addition, the language “the man is deficient, but not the animal” is explained as ‘the man is currently deficient, while the animal is not considered deficient from the time of its slaughter’. If this be so, it can be understood that the man is not considered deficient in the past, and therefore there is no challenge from the cases of the ‘knife’ or the ‘mikvah’.

A clear proof to all this can be demonstrated from the ruling in the Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 18, Section 13, where “one has slaughtered with a checked knife that was subsequently lost before it was examined after slaughter, and was then later found in damaged condition”. The ruling there is that “the meat is kosher, since it was processed in a permitted state, for the knife is established under its original presumption”. Until here is the quote. See that this ruling is even extended even unto a damaged knife, so certainly it will apply to one who has forgotten the laws of slaughter, where the doubt that exists is far more uncertain (and with this all the questions have been answered).

Section 52Edit

Therefore it seems to my humble understanding that the accepted law should follow our teacher the Rema. There are also among the great legal authorities those who have agreed with his position (Shach [comment 8], Krasi u’Plasi [15], Toras Yikusiel [top], and see the Tvous Shor [section 15]).

It should be noted that there is an opinion that posits that if the slaughterer has lost the skill of properly feeling the knife for nicks and damage all his slaughter should be retroactively ruled non-kosher (Krasi u’Plasi, [P7]), although according to what I have written there is no reason to render non-kosher his slaughter over a long period retroactively. A clear proof to this seen in chapter 18, as I have written. Nevertheless, as a matter of ruling practical law this does require more scrutiny.

In a similar vein, when a shochet has been legally categorized as ‘wicked’, in that he has knowingly let non kosher meat pass though his hands to the community, the utensils that he had used remain kosher by law, since until now he had the presumption of behaving properly (Shach, end of comment 8, Bach ["U'Linyan..."]and Yam Shel Shlomo, [WHO?], and Pre Chadash). There are opposing opinions in this matter (Tevuous Shor [15-18]). It seems to me that if he is wicked for convenience or profit we will allow his presumption of fitness to continue up until his sin was discovered, for it is only now that his bad nature prevailed upon him. If, however, his wickedness is a result of apostasy or heresy his slaughter should be invalidated retroactively, for certainly the seeds of such beliefs have been in his heart for some time.

Section 53Edit

A shochet who took ill and recovered, and it appears that his sickness has caused him to forget some of the laws - some rule to invalidate all that he slaughtered subsequent to his illness, for it seems that he has been effected by the malady (Keneses Yisroel [43] in the name of the Ri Bei Rav). It’s a solid suspicion, for in the Talmud itself we find those who took ill and forgot their learning.

For this reason it appears that one who recovered from an illness should test himself to see if he still possesses the skill, the ability to feel the knife for nicks as well as knowledge of the laws. This does not seem to be the custom, though, and therefore there is a need to find support for the current behavior.

Section 54Edit

The Tevuous Shor in section 6 writes:

”At the time when a shochet takes his certification from an expert he should slaughter correctly three times before the expert. If one them is found to be invalidly performed, he must again slaughter three times correctly in order to prove he can consecutively slaughter correctly as a professional without fail and without tiring. The custom is that the three animals are chickens, and at least one should be a chicken because its slaughter is more difficult due of the limpness of the bird [?]. It is then that he is given his certification, and it is not enough for the one granting it to be an expert slaughterer alone, but he must also be an established scholar who rules on the law...”

Until here is the quote.

In our countries we have not heard of this custom to slaughter before a scholar. The reason is obvious: Since in our societies when one is ready to accept certification from a scholar he has already slaughtered many times before the shochet he has been studying under, and is very familiar with the slaughter of small animals, large animals and birds. In no other case would we give him certification, as is well known. Therefore, all that remains for the scholar to determine is that he knows how to check the knife for proper sharpness and his familiarity with the relevant laws. Furthermore, we have already established that we do not concern ourselves with the possibility of the slaughterer tiring [when considering his certification].

The Rambam writes [chapter 4, law 3]: “He should not be allowed to slaughter until he has slaughtered many times before an expert.” - As we have explained, he is referring to an expert shochet, which in truth is our practice today.

(The Tevuous Shor in comment 2 writes that the intent of the Rambam is to slaughter three times, (see there). His actual words do not imply this, for the reason does not appear to be about establishing a legal presumption -’chazakah’, but rather to ensure he has the skill in practice, as our custom is now. In addition, the requirement of the Maharshal and the Shach [comment 6] to begin with chickens, which is certainly the custom, must all be before an expert shochet. They further write that one who is expert at slaughtering chickens should not slaughter small birds, such as two turtle doves or young doves, unless he has done so before and is experienced (see there). They continue to explain that even a great expert should only slaughter one together with a large bird, for small birds are so easy to render non kosher that there is a concern that his blessing will be in vain. At least he should slaughter two small birds together, for we are not concerned that he will render both non kosher (see there). It appears to me that we need not worry about this potential problem now, since our shochtim are quite expert in the slaughter of small birds. Of course, this all depends on the experience and ability of any given shochet or bodek (inspector of slaughtered animals).

Section 55Edit

Our Rabbi the Beis Yosef writes in section 11:

”If the community has placed a ban, forbidding all to slaughter except a known shochet, and another slaughters - there are those who forbid what he has slaughtered.”

Until here is the quote. The concern here is that he is suspected to be indifferent as to whether his slaughter is proper (Taz and Shach). This is not due to legal principle, as one who is suspected to ignore a ban is not suspect to eat an animal improperly slaughtered. As can be proven from the responsa of the Rosh, in principle seven, (which is in fact the source for this law), the reason here is merely an extra-legal stringency, with a penalty enacted for one who transgresses it.

There is a dissenting opinion that states that only an explicit enactment rendering all other slaughter invalid is effective in this regard, but a general ban on the practice only renders invalid when a small loss is incurred. The threat of a large monetary loss would allow the meat to be exempt from invalidation. In addition, if the slaughter happened without knowledge of the general ban the meat is also permitted, though under an explicit enactment this meat would still be prohibited (Tevous Shor, chapter 2 [section 22]and Pre Megadim [Point 194]).

Section 56Edit

However, in my limited understanding, it would appear from the language of our teacher the Beis Yosef that the meat would be prohibited in any scenario, and that that prohibition would be a matter of legal principle. For the source of this law, consider the words of the Rosh [Teshuvos Ha'Rosh, Principle 7, Section 1]:

”...and this that you have asked: ‘When a community places a ban on all to slaughter except a certain communal butcher, and one transgresses and slaughters’ - It appears that it is prohibited to eat of his slaughter, for the community invalidated all slaughter except that of a certain butcher specifically to prevent any random individual from engaging in the field....”
”...they are likewise able to establish penalties for those who transgress...and there is no theft in this. It is also permissible to forbid that which is normally permitted for the purpose of protecting some area (of law from trespass). Whatever they prohibit is forbidden to all citizens of that city”
”... certainly this one who transgressed and slaughtered can be suspected of not caring about the propriety of his slaughter, and even though he would normally not be suspected to eat non kosher food, since what he has done is so reprehensible it is appropriate to enforce an extra-legal penalty and forbid the eating of his slaughter.”

Until here is the quote, and the intent seems clear: As far as the inhabitants of the city his slaughter is certainly prohibited, for it is comparable to a civil case whose ruling is a clear statement of applied law. [NOT SURE ABOUT THIS]. Moreover, the meat is prohibited because of an explicit enactment, for communities retain the right to prohibit that which is permitted. The only purpose of the term ‘enforcing an extra-legal penalty’ is in reference to his slaughtering for people who are of another city and are not included in the ban. Therefore, the basic position of the Beis Yosef appears to be that the slaughter is forbidden in all cases, whether with or without knowledge of the ban, and this is quite similar to the mechanics of a related legal principle called ‘he has made this piece prohibited unto himself’ (Heb: ‘shavyeh anafsheh chaticha d'issura’) (the Gra [36]writes in a similar vein).

Section 57Edit

It is therefore no wonder that the accepted practice in our city is not to bring meat from outside the city, and in fact we consider non kosher (‘Trief’) meat and utensils brought from outside, though outside the city they are permitted. This is custom found in many locales, and it is a proper way to protect from many potential problems, as is well known. This of course requires an explicit enactment that prohibits all meat from outside, considering it non-kosher.

There is another edict we have adopted in our city, and that is that a shochet never slaughters large animals without supervision. If one should transgress this edict and slaughter privately, the dissenting opinion previously mentioned would allow its consumption, as the edict does not invalidate the meat, it merely forbids the slaughter. According to our explanation, however, the meat would be prohibited, for though the query posed to the Rosh was only regarding an edict against the act of slaughter he nevertheless rules that when the edict is transgressed the meat is prohibited.

Therefore it appears to me that it would be appropriate to condition the edict in such a manner that it is clear that the meat remains kosher, and any penalty visited on the shochet who ignores the edict is a fine directed at him alone. It further seems that if this clause was not announced explicitly it is still assumed to apply should the enactors claim that that was their intention at the time.

This would certainly apply as well to a shochet who accepts such an edict upon himself and later transgresses his word, that the meat is permitted unless he had specifically announced that it would be considered non kosher. Though he has transgressed his word, one who is suspect regarding one sin is not automatically suspected regarding his slaughter as well, and the meat remains permitted. Of course, if he explicitly accepted that the meat would be non kosher if he violates his own edict then the meat is, in fact, prohibited.

Further analysis would lead one to wonder by what power one can prohibit his own slaughter, for only a community in its own city has actual legal authority, no different than the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, as I have written in Chosen Mishpat, chapter 2, and a lone individual - by what power can he prohibit items? It cannot be based on one’s ability to prohibit an item to himself (Heb. ‘shavyeh anafsheh chaticha d'issura’), for that is only for an item that he believes to be actually prohibited, as one who would say a piece of meat contains Biblically forbidden fat or is otherwise actually non kosher, as it would be possible for that to be the case. However, where the object is clearly permitted (outside of his self-imposed edict) this rule could not apply, as I have written later in chapter 205: “If one states that his wine is from a non Jewish source (‘Yayin Nesech’), or his bread was baked by Cutheans, it is not prohibited thereby.” (see there) [UNSURE OF NEXT SENTENCE]. Rather, it appears that our case is like a type of vow, as I have previously written (where one would accept a penalty on himself: ‘If I do so and so his wine will be considered to me as from a non Jewish source and his bread as if it were baked by Cutheans’.) In this case there are those who would prohibit and those who would permit (see there). According to this approach even those that prohibited would admit that one could petition to be released from his ‘vow’.

(The Nodah Biyehuda, in chapter 1 [SHOULDN'T IT BE RESPONSA 5? MAYBE A DIFFERENT PRINTING?], offers a proof for this argument (see there). This also functions as a proof for my argument against the Pre Chadash in chapter 56. Note further that the community can always create a prohibition and render any permitted item forbidden, as I write in chapter 205 (see there). Look into this and you find it all in order.)

Section 58Edit

Our teacher the Rema writes [section 11]:

”If the edict has expired - all the shochtim revert to their previous valid status.”

Until here is the quote, and I am not sure what we learn from this.

Perhaps here is the intent: Even though the edict was not rescinded explicitly but rather expired of its own accord - as for example when its upkeep has waned but there has been no attempt to strengthen its adherence - all the slaughterers become permitted to slaughter as they had done before the edict. We would not argue in this case that its weakened state is only because other shochtim ignored it first, so there should be no permit and all penalties should apply. Rather, since its nullification is a fait accompli, it is nullified. The root of this ruling can be found in the Terumos Hadeshen, responsa 177. (This is the relevant quote: “...that I was asked regarding an edict... which was not complied with...though this behavior is extremely distasteful...truthfully their slaughter cannot be prohibited, even on a most-preferred-action basis... and in our case, since the community would not abide by the decree, and they would not uphold it, one is not even able to erect a ‘legal fence’ here...” Until here is the quote, and its explanation is as our words above.)

Section 59Edit

Our Teacher, the Beis Yosef, writes in section 12:

”If one slaughters an animal for one who is not Jewish before witnesses, and when a Jew comes to purchase meat the shochet exclaims ‘Do not buy it for it was not slaughtered (according Jewish law)!’ he is not believed, though he has now made it prohibited to himself, as is the rule: ’He has made this piece prohibited unto himself.’ (Heb: ‘shavyeh anafsheh chaticha d'issura’])”

Until here is the quote. Now this ruling holds true even though a ‘claim of superior falsehood’ (Heb. ‘Megoi’) can be advanced: that since if the shochet wanted to lie he could have lied a superior lie and declared that he paused or pressed in the slaughter, which would have definitely been believed and made the slaughter invalid, he should therefore be believed in his current claim. This argument is untenable since witnesses contradict his claim, and there is no application ‘Megoi’ claims against the testimony of witnesses. However, as for himself, he is prohibited because he has declared that he is considering the meat prohibited, after the maxim ‘One’s claim against himself is believed even if it is contradicted by a hundred witnesses.’ Since according to him the animal is a non kosher carcass, he cannot eat from it. Know further that it is only permitted to others if he specifically stands by his word that it was not slaughtered at all. If, however, he is not asked to explain his statement the meat remains prohibited to all, for maybe his intent was that there was some act in the slaughter that rendered the slaughter improper. That fact that he did not explain this clearly originally might be caused by the fear he had of the owner of this meat, or simply because he calls this ‘not slaughtered’, since it is in any event non kosher (‘Trief’).

Therefore, the permit found in the Shulchan Aruch is only when this shochet was questioned out of the presence of the owners, and he still insisted that the animal was never actually slaughtered. Here his word would not stand up against the witnesses. This is the position that the great later authorities agree with, and the source of this position is clearly found in a responsa of the Rashba that he brought in his great work. (see there [responsa 253]). Nevertheless, it remains a question worthy of study as to why the Shulchan Aruch is so brief in its explanation [IS THIS CORRECT?].

(Regarding the above, there is no difference whether the owner of the meat is Jewish or not, for we follow the same reasoning. It simply happened to be that the incident happened with a non Jewish owner.(See there in the Beis Yosef, and note further that it is the style of the Shulchan Aruch to be written according to the actual language found in the source of the law.)

Section 60Edit

It should be obvious that whenever one prohibits an item to himself he cannot retract unless he can provide a reasonable excuse as to why he acted so. This would allow him to retract his words, as is explained in the Gemara Kesuvos (22.1). However, there is an opinion that rules that if he was contradicted by witnesses he can retract even without an excuse, and the item would then be permitted to him (Mishna L’Melach, commenting on the Rambam, Laws of Marriage, chapter 9, law 15, as well as the Terumos Hadeshen [section 226], see there.)

It further appears that the contradiction of witnesses will only permit if we can intuit a reason that he might have had for the prohibition he pronounced, for example if he believe that it would raise the price of the meat. The fact that he did not mention this reason is simply because he was embarrassed of his motivation. If, however, there does not seem to be a conditional motivation for his prohibition, his retraction is to no avail, even with witnesses contradicting him, for since a man is generally believed on his own admissions even against witnesses, he shares same the inability to retract his words as witnesses do. On the other hand, should he produce a reason, or should we be able to intuit a reason, we can conclude that he did not really want to prohibit himself, and his original words are considered a false statement.

(And I have examined the words of the Terumos Hadeshen quoted in the Mishna L’Melech (which is in section 226), which clearly seems to match what we have said, for here is the quote: “...though this prohibition that he spoke he intends to save himself from the fine... “. Even though he did not explain this reason earlier, he was relying on the reader to reach this explanation later, and the Mishna L’Melech himself is worded succinctly.)

Section 61Edit

The Beis Yosef writes further in section 13:

”If a butcher made a mark on the head of a slaughtered lamb to indicate that it is not kosher, and he states that it is not kosher, only to change his claim later and explain that it was always kosher but he wanted to prevent it from being sold so that he himself might take meat from it later - he is believed.”

Until here is the quote. Know that there are those who dispute this, for it is explained later in chapter 185, that a woman who claimed that she is ritually impure (as a ‘Niddah’) and then later asserted that she is pure is believed as long as she has an excuse as to why she made her first statement. If, however, she had changed her dress to what she wore when impure her excuse is not believed, for an excuse can only contradict words but not actions (see there). Therefore, here also the physical mark the butcher has made invalidates his excuse (Taz [22]).

Others oppose this, arguing that the comparison is not valid, since this woman is not required to perform any action, and once she has acted it is assumed that her actions reveal that she is impure. This is unlike our case, where the symbol was needed to prevent the meat from being sold. Therefore, his excuse is accepted in this case. (Bach [40] and the Nikudos HaKesef).

Know that any excuse proffered has to be reasonable, that one would act in such a way given the circumstances. If the rationale does not support why someone would claim the meat is non kosher he is not believed (so is implied from the Tevuous Shor [40]). Furthermore, all ‘excuse-claims’ found in the Talmud are appropriate and reasonable, and should set the general rule for the type that are accepted. In the final analysis this matter rests in the eyes of the court.

Finally, claims of being mistaken as to the law (which caused the non-kosher pronouncement) are acceptable excuses as long as it appears that that mistake could have been made. (See there).

Section 62Edit

Since an excuse is effective to permit when one first claims ‘treif’ (non-kosher) and then ‘kosher’, it appears to be an a fortiori argument (‘Kal-v’Chomer’) that if ‘kosher’ is claimed first followed by ‘trief’ the item would be considered ‘trief’ if a proper excuse was given for his original claim. Even though this seems logical there is reason to say that the two cases are not comparable: For when one claims ‘trief’ people are protected from the meat, whereas when one first claims kosher people may eat from the meat he later pronounces ‘trief’. This then may be a reason to prevent him from retracting, due to the maxim ‘One cannot incriminate himself’.

Nevertheless it appears that there is no reason to make such a distinction, for there is a valid excuse: “Even though I said it was kosher I was careful not to let anyone take of its meat so as to avoid any possible violation accruing to anyone.” Therefore he is permitted to later pronounce it ‘trief’ (the Pischei Teshuva [20] quotes various opinions on the matter, see there) and certainly he is believed when he states that he was mistaken as to the law [that he based his kosher pronouncement on].

Section 63Edit

If one witness contradicts the shochet, (who claims that he slaughtered correctly), accusing him of hesitating, unduly pressing the knife or some similar invalidation - regarding the shochet himself it is understood that one witness has no power to change his certified status. However, regarding the meat that was slaughtered, the witness himself can certainly not eat of it, for he falls under the maxim ‘He has made this piece prohibited unto himself’. Furthermore, whether he is able to eat of any meat this man slaughters in the future is a dispute among the legal authorities: Some argue that strictly speaking his statement does not imply that any future slaughter of this shochet is invalid. [Even if there is an assumption of malfeasance on the part of shochet] perhaps he will repent and correct his ways and his slaughter will be permitted. According to this line of reasoning the maxim of ‘He has made this piece prohibited unto himself’ cannot be extended into the future, for maybe he will repent. This is the opinion of the Maharik [in responsa 33 and quoted by the shach] and the Sulchan Aruch in section 14.

Those that posit that since [by contradicting the shochet] he is in effect claiming at the very least that the shochet does not know the law and should not be allowed to slaughter without correcting his behavior, as long as he does not recognize this correction his personal prohibition stands. (Pre Chadash [comment 42] and Kreisi U’Pleisi [k41]).

Section 64Edit

It appears to me that the settled law accords with the Maharik and the Shulchan Aruch. The reason for this is that the Talmud itself (in Gemara Kesuvos 9.1) rules that the maxim ‘He has made this piece prohibited unto himself’ does not apply when a double doubt (‘Sefek Sfeika’) is present. Here in our case, though the witness testifies to hesitation or pressing there is a double doubt regarding future slaughter: 1) It is unknown to the witness whether the shochet realized his error and is intentionally misleading the public or if he honestly believes that he slaughtered correctly. 2) Even if he had intentionally misled the public maybe he has repented, or maybe his future slaughters were supervised, which either way would be permitted. Furthermore, maybe his future slaughter is fine, for just because he is suspected regarding the future does not mean for certain that he acted incorrectly. It is merely a doubt. It is therefore found that this is a triple doubt, and all agree that any presumption of prohibition is waived in the presence of a triple doubt, as I have written in chapter 110.

(And as to what is written in the Tevuous Shor [21] and the Pre Megadim, that permission would only be given in a case when the witness retracted his statement - the forced nature of this explanation is obvious and that is not the implication of the text. (See there.)

Section 65Edit

There is also a dispute in regard to whether this meat is permitted to others. The Maharik and Shulchan Aruch permit, for the reason that the Torah itself allows belief in a shochet’s reliability, and the Torah’s allowance of belief is generally considered like the testimony of two witnesses, which trumps the single contradicting witness. When considering this reason it is necessary to say that it would only be applicable if the shochet announced that the meat was kosher beforehand. However, if they both voiced their claims simultaneously, the shochet would not have an advantage, as is explained in the Even Ezer, chapter 17, in regard to the case of an ‘agunah’ [woman who has not received a divorce from her husband and therefore cannot remarry]. The same condition would apply to a ‘sotah’ as is explained in Even Ezer, chapter 178, as well as the case of an ‘Eglah Arufah’ as explained in ‘Chosen Misphat’, chapter 425, (see there.)

On the other hand, it is possible that there is no distinction: When the Torah implies that one individual enjoys the ‘two-witness weight’ it is only applicable when he precedes the contradicting witness. If they both claim at the same time neither receives that advantage. Here though, the Torah is not allowing believability to whomever claims first. This benefit is only extended to a shochet in regard to his fitness, and therefore even if another were to contradict him at the same time the shochet would still receive the benefit of being believed as two witnesses against one. (This requires further study).

Section 66Edit

Know however that many argue on the position above, and rule that the meat is prohibited to all people, due to the reason of two single witnesses canceling each other’s testimony and the animal remaining in it’s previous prohibited state (that of before slaughter). They assert that the Torah never accords a shochet the believability of two witnesses, for that rule only applies to a ‘Sotah’, ‘Eiglah Arufah’ or ‘Agunah’. These actually require two witnesses - except for special circumstances where the Torah allows one to be believed as two. These would be the only cases where the rule could apply. Slaughter, however, never needs two people to testify to it’s fitness, for one witness is always believed regarding prohibitions over an item that is under his control, even if it normally would have a prohibited status (as I have already written). If so, it is not possible to state that a shochet is believed as two, rather he is only believed as a single witness, and is treated in law as a single witness. Therefore, when another later contradicts him it is one against one, which cancels out, and the meat remains in it’s previous prohibited state. (Yam Shel Shlomo 69, Bach, Taz, Pre Chadash and Creisi u’Pleisi). It is obvious that one should adopt this stricter approach in practice. (See the Nimukei Yosef in Chapter “h’Esha Rabah” in the name of the Ritva).

Section 67Edit

It further appears to me that according to this approach if the meat was consumed before a claim of its non-kosher status was made the utensils need not be purged (‘kashered’). Since the consumption was based on the word of the shochet, which is permitted because the Torah grants him reliability, it is as though it has left its original prohibited state, and is like all properly slaughtered meat, which have kosher status. Now that this other man has come to testify that it is ‘trief’ it is witness against witness and we establish the presumption to permit.

On the other hand, when two witnesses testify that the meat is ‘trief’ the utensils used with need to be purged in any case. Even if two claim it’s kosher and two claim it’s ‘trief’, not only is it prohibited Bibblically before it’s eaten, for the meat is placed in its original status, but even if the meat was already eaten unknowingly, and at that time it had a presumption of being kosher, nevertheless the Rabbis have ruled that two against two always follows the stricter path and the utensils need to be purged (as is explained in Gemara Yevamos 30.1).

(So it seems in my humble opinion. Perhaps after 24 hours have passed since the utensils were used with the meat the ruling would follow the lenient path, though this needs investigation.)

Section 68Edit

Note that all that has been explained only applies to a witness claiming that there is a certain defect in the slaughter that is a defect of established law. If, however, the defect claimed is merely concerning a stringency - for as will be explained there are many extra-legal stringencies employed in slaughter that are not required by the law per se - the shochet’s claim is believed, and the meat is permitted to be eaten (Duhgul Mervavah), for even according to the witness the defect is not a matter of law.

Know further that all this applies to two men whose reputations are on equal footing. However, if the witness is known to fear G-d to a greater extent than the shochet - it is appropriate to rule strictly. This is even true according to the first opinion mentioned [that the shochet is believed as two witnesses] (as is written in the Shulchan Aruch: “all is according to the stature of the man”).

Also know that if the community employs people to supervise the shochtim and butchers they are in general always believed over those they supervise. This is true even if one were to contradict two shochtim or two butchers, since the community has appointed them to be relied upon. Certainly, the Rabbi of the town is believed in all matters, for once the community has appointed him to teach and rule should he state that a piece of meat is ‘treif’ how could they then eat from it? They themselves have accepted upon themselves to follow his rulings in all matters of law regarding what is permitted and what is prohibited. (So it seems to me).


The source for this chapter was the Hebrew version of this page at Wikisource.