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Bechoros, 19

BECHOROS 19-20 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.


QUESTION: The Mishnah states that according to Rebbi Tarfon, when a firstborn animal is born through Caesarian section ("Yotzei Dofen"), both the firstborn animal and the animal both afterwards must be left to graze until they become blemished, and then they may be slaughtered and eaten. RASHI (DH Sheneihem) explains that Rebbi Tarfon maintains that each animal is a doubtful Bechor. Rebbi Tarfon is in doubt whether an animal that is considered to be the firstborn in only one respect has the status of Bechor or not. In this case, the firstborn animal (the Yotzei Dofen) is *not* the first animal to open the womb, but it is the first male to be born. The second animal born is not the first male to be born, but it is the first animal to emerge through the womb.

How can Rebbi Tarfon have a doubt whether a Yotzei Dofen is a Bechor? The Torah states explicitly that the Bechor must be "Peter Rechem" (Shemos 13:12); a Yotzei Dofen should certainly be exempt!

ANSWER: The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Bechoros 2:4) resolves this question by offering an interesting interpretation for the verse. When the verse says, "Every firstborn (Peter Rechem) shall be for Hashem," this refers to an ordinary, firstborn male, which must be given to a Kohen.

The verse continues, "And any firstborn animal sent out (Peter Sheger Behemah) of its mother." The word "Sheger" refers to a stillborn, which is called a "Sheger," as the verse says, "Shegar Alafecha" (Devarim 7:13), referring to the offspring of your cattle that is "sent out" from the womb (see Rashi there). The Or Same'ach asserts that "Kol Peter Sheger Behemah" refers to an animal born to the mother, but not from the womb -- that is, a Yotzei Dofen. The verse is teaching that a Bechor that is a Yotzei Dofen must also be given to a Kohen.

With regard to the next part of the verse, "ha'Zecharim la'Hashem" -- "the males shall be for Hashem," the Or Same'ach says that Rebbi Tarfon maintains "Iy Efshar l'Tzamtzem," it is not possible for twin babies to emerge from the mother simultaneously. Therefore, Rebbi Tarfon does not interpret the words, "ha'Zecharim la'Hashem," in the same way as Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili interprets them (17a). Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili says that these words teach that when two male twins are born at the same time, both are considered the Bechor and must be given to the Kohen. Instead, Rebbi Tarfon explains that the verse refers to a case in which the first baby emerged through a Caesarian section, and the second baby emerged naturally, and the verse is teaching that both must be given to the Kohen. This is derived from the usage of the word "ha'Zecharim," in the plural form. (The reason why Rebbi Tarfon rules that both animals must graze is because he is in doubt whether this is the accurate interpretation of the verse.)

The Or Same'ach adds that according to this explanation, the question of TOSFOS here (DH Reisha) can be answered. Tosfos asks that even if the first baby was a female born through a Caesarian section, Rebbi Tarfon should also rule that the next animal born (through a natural birth) must be given to the Kohen. According to the Or Same'ach's explanation, however, if the firstborn animal was a female born through a Caesarian section, it is neither a "Peter Rechem" nor a "Sheger Rechem," because it is not a male. Therefore, the next animal born is certainly exempt from the laws of Bechor.

(See also the Or Same'ach's words in MESHECH CHOCHMAH to Devarim 15:19, where he explains that according to Rebbi Tarfon, a Yotzei Dofen is certainly unfit for a Korban, as the Gemara in Chulin (38b) derives from Vayikra 22:27.) (D. Bloom)


QUESTION: The Mishnah states that, according to Rebbi Yishmael, when one buys a cow from a Nochri and does not know whether the cow has ever given birth before, if the cow is under three years old we may assume that it has never given birth before, and the next birth may be assumed to be its first one. This is because a cow cannot bear young before it is three years old.

TOSFOS in Avodah Zarah (24b, DH Parah) asks that it is an everyday occurrence that a two-year-old cow bears living offspring!


(a) TOSFOS answers that apparently the nature of animals has changed since the times of the Gemara, just as other elements of the natural world seem to have changed since the times of the Gemara. The Gemara in Moed Katan (11a) relates that the most beneficial time to eat fish is just before they spoil. Tosfos there (DH Kivra) points out that in his days, it was considered life-threatening to eat fish just before they spoil! Apparently, Tosfos concludes, the nature of spoiled fish has changed since the times of the Gemara.

Tosfos adds that for this reason, one should not expect the remedies prescribed by the Gemara for various ailments (see Gitin 69a, and Insights to Gitin 69:1) to successfully provide relief to those ailments in our times.

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