We have already learned that someone who steals an animal will have to pay back twice its value; if he sold it or killed it, he will have to pay back four or five times its value. Our Gemara investigates whether this same law will be true also in cases where someone did not steal the animal, but received it to watch and then claims that it was stolen from him, intending to keep it for himself.
One baraita that appears to suggest that he would not be obligated to pay back four or five times the value of the animal teaches that in a case where a person falsely claimed that the animal had been stolen from him and then witnesses came and testified that he had eaten the animal, he will pay kefel. The Gemara rejects this by arguing that there are situations that he could have eaten the animal without having actually slaughtered it – the animal may have been a nevela – it may have died or been killed on its own (of course, the animal would not be kosher in such a case).
Another situation raised by the Gemara is of an animal that can actually be eaten without shehita – the case of a ben peku’ah. A ben pekua’ah is an animal that was still in its mother’s womb when its mother was slaughtered (as opposed to a yotze dofen, which is an animal that is delivered by way of a Caesarian section when the mother is still alive). Just as all an animal’s internal organs become kosher at the moment of shehita, similarly a viable animal that is removed from its mother after slaughter is considered by Jewish law to be a living, breathing kosher animal that can be eaten without shehita.
It should be noted that if the unborn animal is at a stage that it is ready to be born, Rabbi Me’ir rules that it is considered an independent entity and will not be considered slaughtered. Rabbi Shimon disagrees and rules that even in such a case the animal will not need shehita.