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Tractate Berachot, Chapter 6, Tosefta 16

August 18th, 2009 2 comments
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 6

Tosefta 161

[Even if a person] slaughters2 [an animal] for himself he needs to say a Beracha (blessing) [in the form as if it was slaughtered for others].3 He says [the following Beracha:] Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Hashechitah.4 [Even if a person] covers blood [after slaughtering a wild animal or a bird]5 for himself he needs to say a Beracha [in the form as if the blood was covered for others]. He says [the following Beracha:] Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Kisui Hadam Beafar.6

מסכת ברכות פרק ו

תוספתא טז

השוחט צריך ברכה לעצמו אומר ברוך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על השחיטה. המכסה את הדם צריך ברכה לעצמו אומר ברוך על כיסוי הדם בעפר.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues on the same subject from the previous Tosefta. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Slaughtering an animal either for food or for a sacrifice according to the rules of ritual slaughter – Shechita, is a commandement in the Torah. See Devarim 12:21. The Torah does not obligate anyone to eat meat for food except in the cases of certain sacrifices, however if a person wants to eat meat then the Torah obligates him to slaughter the animal according to the rules of Shechitah. The Torah itself did not specify what the rules of Shechitah are, besides saying that the animal should be slaughtered according to the rules. Therefore the rules of Shechitah have been passed on in the Oral Tradition (Massorah) and are recorded in the Mishna in chapters 1 and 2 of Masechta (tractate) Chulin. Since the Torah does say that the animal must be slaughtered according to its rules the process of slaughtering is considered to be a direct commandment from God and therefore requires a Beracha.
  3. The wording of the Tosefta “leatzmo” meaning “for himself” is very unclear. If the Tosefta means that he slaughtered the animal for himself it should have placed the word “leatzmo” directly after the word “hashochet”. In the way that the Tosefta places this word it implies that he should say the Beracha for himself, but that does not make any sense, since obviously if he is doing the slaughter then he is saying the Beracha for himself and not for someone else. See Higayon Aryeh on this Tosefta. It should be noted that this Beraita is quoted in Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 9:3, Daf 66a) without the word “leatzmo” meaning that regardless if he is slaughtering the animal for himself or for someone else he still would say this Beracha. However from the Tosefta it is implied that only if he slaughters the animal for himself he would say the Beracha, but not if he would slaughter the animal for someone else. This is very difficult to understand since the Beracha is made on the performance of the commandment and it should not matter who is going to eat the animal in the end, the butcher or another person. Due to this problem there exists another explanation regarding the meaning of the word “leatzmo”. This explanation is taken up by Chazon Yechezkel (Berachot, Tosefta 6:17, Chidushim, Hamal). He says that the word “leatzmo” is not referring to the Mitzva (commandment) which is being done, but rather to the type of a Beracha that shold be said on it. He quotes the Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 11:11-15) who says that the wording of the Beracha changes depending if the person is performing the Mitzvah for himself or for someone else. If the person is performing the Mitzvah for himself then the wording of the Beracha should be “Laasot …” – “to do …” followed by the type of the Mitzvah. But if the person is performing the Mitzvah for someone else then the wording of the Beracha should be “Al …” – “regarding …” followed by the type of the Mitzvah. The Rambam clarifes (Hilchot Berachot 11:15) that Shechita and covering of the blood after slaughter are exceptions to this rule. The reason that they are exceptions is because they are not obligatory commandments. The person is not obligated in eating meat and is therefore is not obligated in slaughtering the animal or covering its blood after slaughter. Therefore the Rambam explains, since Shechita is not obligatory even if the person slaughters the animal only for himself he still says the Beracha in the form of “Al …” – “regarding …”. Based on the Rambam’s position, Chazon Yechezkel explains that this is the precise reason why the Tosefta says the word “leatzmo” – “for himself” after the word “Beracha” and not after the word “Hashochet”. It is referring to the form of the Beracha, that even if a person slaughtered the animal for himself he still says the Beracha using the form “Al …” and not using the form “Laasot …”. Since Chazon Yechzekel’s explanation fits better into the precise wording of the Tosefta, I have chosen to translate it according to his explanation and not according to the explanation of Higayon Aryeh. In addition, according to Chazon Yechezkel’s explanation, the Tosefta agrees with Talmud Yerushalmi that the Beracha has to be said regardless if he is slaughtering for himself or for others, and the Tosefta is not even discussing that particular law. Rather the Tosefta is emphasizing the form in which the Beracha has to be said if the person is slaughtering for himself.
  4. ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על השחיטה – Blessed You Hashem, our God, King of the world, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us regarding the slaughter.
  5. The Torah commands that if a person slaughters a wild animal such as a deer or a bird then after the slaughter he should cover the spilled blood with some dirt. See Vayikra 17:13-14. Blood of domesticated animals such as cows, sheep or goats does not need to be covered after slaughter. As was already explained above in note 3, the commandment of covering the blood after slaughter is not considered to be obligatory since the person is not obligated to eat meat. Because of that the Beracha for this Mitzvah is said in the form of “Al …” – “regarding …” and not in the form of “Laasot …” – “to do …”.
  6. ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על כיסוי הדם בעפר – Blessed You Hashem, our God, King of the world, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us regarding covering of the blood with dirt. It should be noted that the word “Beafar” – “with dirt” only appears in the Vienna manuscript, but not in the Erfurt manuscript of the Tosefta. It is not really clear which version is more correct, since on one hand the Torah does explicitly say that the blood must be covered with dirt, but on the other hand even other materials besides dirt, such as sand, plaster or manure are all fitting to be used to cover the blood since in Halacha (Jewish Law) they are all considered to be similar enough to dirt for this purpose. See Mishna Chulin 6:7.