Continuing the discussion of what conditions establish an animal as a ba’al mum
– an animal with a blemish that cannot be sacrificed – the Mishnah
on today’s daf
(=page) teaches that there are some firstborn animals that will not be brought as sacrifices, but cannot be slaughtered as ordinary blemished animals, either. These animals have blemishes, but they are not sufficient to free them entirely of the sanctity of being firstborn animals. Included in the Mishnah’s list are animals found to be either a tumtum
or an androgynous
. Each of these conditions refers to a situation where the animal’s sexual identification is questionable. An androgynous
appears to have both male and female sexual organs, while a tumtum
does not appear to have any external sexual organs that would identify it as either male or female.
According to the Gemara
in Masechet Yevamot
) there is some question about how to approach animals with these conditions. Rabbi Yossi
suggests that an androgynous
is a beryah bifnei atzmah
– a unique creature who cannot be treated either as male or as female. The rishonim
have different approaches to the definition of beryah bifnei atzmah.
understand the concept as a permanent situation of safek
, of doubt, suggesting that since we cannot expect to ever ascertain whether the individual is male or female we refer to such a person as a unique creature. The Ramban
, on the other hand, accepts the simple meaning of the expression, and rules that an androgynous
is truly viewed by the halakhah
as a creature that is neither male nor female.
Medicine recognizes two types of androgynous. A true androgynous has both male and female sexual glands, while a Pseudohermaphrodite has the appearance of both male and female sexual organs, although the individual actually has only one set of sexual glands.