By Jules, Carol, Davey, Danny, Karli, Kayla, Reuben and Sarit Sherwinter.
The yahrzeit date was: 30 Shvat 5773 / February 10, 2013
We thank the Sherwinter Family for sponsoring the MBY this week in observance of the yahrzeit of Sarah Sherwinter (see dedication).
MBY 498-499 Slaughtering and Salting on Yom Tov (abridged – part 1)
Intro: The next two simanim in Shulchan Aruch deal with complex issues related to ‘shechita’ (ritual slaughter) on Yom Tov and the processes which follow, such as ‘kisui hadam’ (i.e. the mitzvah of covering the blood of a bird or non-domestic kosher animal), skinning, salting the meat and more. I didn’t think that you wanted to learn every detail of those halachos, nor was I prepared to teach them! I thought we could get a flavor (n.p.i.) of these issues by excerpting from Rambam’s Mishnah Torah (Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov, Perek 3). The translation is mostly from the Moznaim Edition and translator, Rabbi Eliyahu Touger. Don’t miss Part 2 of this siman, where the topic of killing insects on Yom Tov will be explored, as a ‘tolada’ (derivative) of the melacha of Shechita!
Rambam: Mishnah Torah (Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov, Perek 3
1) A person who has earth that has been prepared (i.e. non-muktzah) or ash that has been prepared… may slaughter a fowl or a beast [Ed. There is no mitzvah to cover the blood of a slaughtered domestic animal] and cover their blood on a holiday. If he does not have earth that is prepared or ash… he should not slaughter (!)… Similarly, on a holiday one should not slaughter an animal concerning which there is a doubt whether it is a wild beast or a domestic animal (e.g. a crossbreed between a goat and a deer)…
2) Similarly, if a person slaughtered a beast or a fowl before a holiday and did not cover the blood at that time, he may not cover it on the holiday….
3) A person who slaughters an animal on a holiday is permitted to pull off the wool by hand1 from the place where he wishes to slaughter it, provided he does not remove it from its place, but rather leaves it there tangled with the remainder of the wool of the animals’ neck.
[Note #1: This is the key to the leniency. Since one would normally cut the wool away with shears, pulling it by hand represents a departure from one’s ordinary procedure, and it is therefore permitted. Shearing the wool with a utensil is indeed prohibited. The Shulchan Aruch rules more stringently and forbids intentionally tearing the wool away…] When slaughtering a fowl, by contrast, one may not pull out the feathers, for doing so by hand is the usual procedure. Thus one would be performing the forbidden labor of pulling out feathers on a holiday.
4) [Intro: Hides which are freshly skinned off an animal will quickly spoil if not promptly treated with salt or other treatments. The Sages were therefore sensitive to people who would naturally hesitate slaughtering an animal on Yom Tov, knowing that the valuable hides may go to waste. In fact, the Sages were quite creative in offering halachically-solvent methods of dealing with this dilemma!] When a person skins the hide of an animal on a holiday, he should not salt it. For salting is one of the leather-making processes (i.e. related to “tanning”.) And thus one would be performing a forbidden labor that is not necessary for the preparation of food. One may, however, deposit the hide in a place where people tread on it, so that it will not spoil. This leniency was permitted only for the sake of holiday celebrations, so that a person will not refrain from slaughtering an animal. It is permitted to salt meat (i.e. to extract the blood) to be roasted, on top of this hide. (Ed. In this way, he gets the benefit of salting the hides without doing so outright!) One may even act with “guile” regarding this matter. What is implied? One may salt a small portion of meat on one place (of the hide), another small portion in another place, until the entire hide has been “salted”!
5) When does the above apply? When one is salting the meat for roasting, and not much salt is required, (i.e. because the roasting itself drains most of the blood.) If, however, one is salting it for cooking (i.e. boiling), and much salt is required, it is forbidden to salt the meat on a hide…
6) When a person skins an animal on a holiday, he should not employ the technique referred to as ‘regol’. What is meant by ‘regol’? The person removes all the meat from a hole made at one foot [Ed. ‘regel’ is a foot], leaving the entire skin intact without being torn. This is forbidden, because this means of skinning involves great effort, and it is not necessary for the holiday. Similarly, it is forbidden to cut a “handle” into the meat (i.e. to cut the meat in such a way that it will be easier for a customer to carry it home.) The prohibition applies only when the handle is made with a knife, thus restricting the butcher from following his ordinary practice. A butcher may, however, make a sign in the meat (i.e. to distinguish meat purchased by one customer from that purchased by another.) 7) We may pour hot water over the head and the feet of a slaughtered animal and singe it with fire (e.g. to remove its hair.) We may not, however, apply lime, clay or loam for that purpose, nor may we trim it with scissors…
ATTENTION: After learning all of the halachos pertaining to permissible ‘shechita’ on Yom Tov, we must now insert a very significant caveat to this whole topic. We quote from The Laws of Yom Tov, by Rabbi S. B. Cohen, p. 140: “On Yom Tov, the rule of ‘ocheil nefesh’ (Ed. namely, that certain melachos that are central to food preparation are the permissible exceptions to the general prohibition against melacha on Yom Tov) permits slaughtering a kosher creature for the sake of eating it that day. However, nowadays it is customary not to slaughter animals on Yom Tov. The slaughter of fowl remains permitted.” The source of this custom is that fact that the incidence of ‘treifah’ – i.e. signs of a mortal lesion or injury in the animal’s internal organs which would render it ‘treif’ or unkosher if found during the bedika/internal examination - have become more common over time. We don’t want to set out to perform a melacha when there is a strong likelihood that the animal will not be fit for Yom Tov food in the end. Therefore, that kind of shechita aught best be done before Yom Tov! Apparently, the incidence of ‘treifa’ in birds is much lower. See Mishnah Berura 498:49 for a discussion of this custom.