י״א בתמוז ה׳תשע״ב (July 1, 2012)

Nidda 41a-b: Caesarean Sections and Sanctified Animals

As we learned on yesterday’s daf ,the fifth perek of Massekhet Nidda discusses this question of a yotzeh dofen – a child born by means of a Caesarean section. According to the Tanna Kamma the laws of tum’at leidah do not apply to the mother. Rabbi Shimon disagrees, arguing that with regard to these laws, it is treated like any ordinary birth.

Does Rabbi Shimon believe that a fetus born of a Caesarean section is always considered to be ordinary?

Rabbi Yohanan argues that with regard to kodashim – sanctified animals – Rabbi Shimon agrees with that an animal born in this manner will not be considered an ordinary birth. The biblical passages that serve as the sources for this ruling teach about two different types of sanctification. First, if a female animal that was sanctified gives birth, ordinarily its offspring would have the same type of sanctification that the mother does. When born of Caesarean section, the animal does not receive its mother’s sanctification. Additionally, when an ordinary animal is born of a Caesarean section, it is considered to be a blemished animal and cannot be sanctified for sacrifice on the altar.

With regard to the first issue – that the offspring of a sanctified animal does not retain its mother’s holiness – Rashi explains that the animal has no intrinsic sanctification (kedushat ha-guf), although it is considered to be consecrated for its value (kedushat damim); it is like other cases where an animal was already blemished before it was consecrated. In such cases only the value of the animal becomes sanctified, and after it is redeemed it can be used for any purpose.

The Ritva points out that there are other cases where an animal cannot be brought as a sacrifice, yet it retains a higher level of intrinsic sanctification. In the case of a terefah, for example, the animal is considered consecrated, can only be redeemed if it develops a permanent blemish, and it retains certain laws of sanctification even after it is redeemed. Surely the case of a yotzeh dofen should be no less severe than that of a terefah!?

He explains that, in fact, with regard to the laws of sanctification, we view a yotzeh dofen as similar to a miscarriage, which precludes from it levels of sanctification that even a terefah can attain.

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