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Present-Day Ben Pakua

Why is the law of Ben Pekuah not utilised these days?

Is there any Halachic reason that it can not be introduced for commercial production on a large scale?


There is no halachic reason for which the laws of a ben pakua — a calf that is born alive after its mother has already been slaughtered — should not apply today.

Yet, I am not sure how much commencial use can be made of a ben pakua. It should be noted that although a ben pakua does not require shechitah according to Torah law (because it is considered already slaughtered), it nonetheless must be slaughtered by rabbinic decree if it is to be eaten. Thus we don’t save anything on slaughter costs.

A ben pakua can also cause trouble. If it fathers a calf, the new calf can never be slaughtered and thus never eaten (assuming the mother is a regular cow, and not a ben pakua). This is so because at birth this new calf is regarded as “half-slaughtered.” Thus, it cannot be slaughtered to be eaten, because the act of ritual slaughter is regarded as if it has taken too long (i.e., from when it was born — it is already half-slaughtered — until it is actually slaughtered). Ritual slaughter must be instantaneous.

The exception to this rule is if the original cow (the one that was slaughtered at the start of this episode) was itself a treifa, then its child will not be a ben pakua, thus allowing the new calf to be slaughtered and eaten.

This is a good question for a riddle: It is a case in which an animal being treifa causes another animal to be kosher — the “grandmother” cow’s being a treifa causes the “grandson” to be kosher (or, more exactly, prevents it from automatically being “half-slaughtered” and non-kosher.)

Sources: Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 13:4, Shach 12; the riddle was seen on the Or Sameach website.

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  1. Not every Ben Pekuah requires Shechita.
    A herd can be bred by interbreeding Benei Pekuah
    The great advantage is that there are no disqualifications of terreifot

    1. The cases in which there is no need for shechitah are cases in which there is no question of maris ayin — cases that are fairly rare (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 13). Certainly, breeding an entire herd of animals that do not require shechitah would be a severe instance of maris ayin, and the animals would require shechitah. Once they require shechitah, all the laws of shechitah apply to the animals, and although some leniencies may apply (see Taz, 13:4), it would be hard to imagine that the techinical difficulty of establishing the herd would be worthwhile.

  2. i don’t understand why you don’t gain that there’s no shaylos of treyfos. also according to pm”g 64 and pr”ch 64 me’ikar hadin there is no issur of chelev so you could eliminate a large chelek of treybering.also all shaylos on the ahechita are only m’drabonon.

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