More Discussions for this daf
1. Kohanim Chashudim Al Bechoros 2. Concern that One Might Give a Bechor to Kohen Employee

Michoel Reach asks:

The gemara on 35b (and in many other places) says that cohanim are suspected about mumim on their bechors. Someone else needs to testify that the animal got the mum itself. Yisroelim are not chashudim, and so it is brought in Yoreh Deah (314, 321).

I would have thought this is because the Cohen benefits from the bechor, not the Yisroel. However, this din seems to be true for a safek bechor as well, even though the Yisroel is going to get to keep it, and so it is brought in the Shulkhan Arukh. Why is this?

Thank you!

Michoel Reach, Baltimore USA

The Kollel replies:

1) In fact, the reason why Kohanim are suspected is because Kohanim must look after the Bechor animal themselves until it naturally develops a Mum. Because it involves a lot of bother to look after the animal, they are suspected of inflicting a Mum in the Bechor in order to permit its slaughter. In contrast, a Yisrael may hand over the Bechor to a Kohen to look afer it, so Yisraelim are not suspected of inflicting a blemish in order to make life easier for themselves. (See Tur, Yoreh Deah 314:1, and Taz 314:1.)

2) If it is a Safek Bechor, there is more reason to believe the Kohen. See Bechoros 36a, where the Gemara says that if it was not known whether or not the animal was a Bechor, and a Kohen said that it is a Bechor but it received a blemish unintentionally, he is believed because he could have simply kept quiet.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

Michael Reach asks:

Thank you, the answer is very interesting. (I saw also the Perisha on Y"D 314, (14) who expands a little on answer (1).)

Answer (2) I don't understand: Bechoros 36a is talking about where we don't know if it's a bechor, but the Cohen does, so he has a migu. I was asking about a different case, where a Yisroel has an animal which is a safek both to us and to the Yisroel. There he keeps it and doesn't give it to the Cohen, and he has no migu.

Thanks again,

Michoel Reach

The Kollel replies:

Michoel, the answer to your second question can also be found in the Perishah that you cited.

1) The Perishah asks as follows. We know that the Mishnah (26b) states that the Yisrael has to look after the Bechor for only 30 days if it is a sheep or goat, or 50 days if it is a larger animal (such as a cow) before he gives it to the Kohen. Since he has to look after the animal for only a short period, we are not afraid that he will inflict a blemish on it in order to save himself the bother of guarding a holy animal. However, the Perishah asks that if the animal is only a Safek Bechor, which the Yisrael will never be obligated to give to the Kohen and therefore must look after for a longer period, why do we not say that the Yisrael might make a Mum in order to allow himself to eat it immediately without requiring the bother of the extended period of watching?

2) The Perisha answers with an important principle. There is a Torah prohibition against inflicting a blemish on a Bechor (see the Gemara at the end of 33b, and Rashi DH Kol Mum, that this is derived from Vayikra 22:21, "No blemish shall be in it"). The Perishah asserts that a person is not suspected of transgressing a Torah prohibition of making a Mum merely to enable him to eat the Bechor. However, a person is suspected of stealing the present that belongs to the Kohen and keeping it for himself.

(Possibly this can be compared to the Gemara in Chulin 12a which tells us that if someone lost his goats or chickens and later found that they had been slaughtered, some opinions permit him to eat the lost goats or chickens. Tosfos (DH Harei) writes that the same applies if they were stolen, because if someone is suspected of stealing, this does not mean that he is suspected of eating a Neveilah or of causing other people to eat meat which has not been slaughtered properly. Here, too, we learn from the Perishah that while a person is not supsected of making a blemish in a Bechor, he nevertheless is suspected of not giving to the Kohen what is due to him according to the Torah. -DB)

3) The Perishah continues that if a Yisrael possesses a Safek Bechor and does not want the hard work of looking after it until it naturally develops a blemish, he has a ready solution: he may give it to a Kohen. Since the Halachah is that the Kohen is obligated to accept a Safek Bechor from a Yisrael if given to him (see Rema, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 306:4), there is no reason to suspect that the Yisrael will make a blemish, because we have learned that a person is not suspecting of transgressing a Torah prohibition in order to enable him to eat the Bechor.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom