As we learned on yesterday’s daf (=page) the laws of shehitah – ordinary ritual slaughter – and melikah – the unique slaughter of birds as part of the Temple service, stand in contrast to one another. While shehitah can only be performed on the front of the bird’s neck, melikah can only be done on the back of the bird’s neck. Nevertheless, on today’s daf,Rabbi Yirmiah quotes Shmuel as teaching that there is one point of similarity between them. The area of the neck that is appropriate for shehitah and melikah are identical.
While comparing and contrasting these two methods of ritual slaughter, the Gemara makes reference to the fact that whether or not shehitah is a Biblical requirement is, itself, a matter of disagreement (as we learned on yesterday’s daf, theTorah is clear about the requirement of melikah – see Vayikra 1:14-17 and 5:8-10). The source for this disagreement appears later on in Masechet Hullin (daf 27b) where Rav Yehudah quotes Rabbi Yitzhak ben Pinhas as teaching that the passage that commands kisui ha-dam – requiring that the blood of a bird that was killed must be covered with dirt – should be understood to mean that the bird can be killed in any manner. Rabbi Yehudah haNassi disagrees, arguing that the passage that teaches that animals must be killed “as you were commanded” ( 12:21) refers specifically to the requirement that ritual slaughter involves the two simanim – the windpipe and the esophagus – where the majority of both must be cut for animals and the majority of one must be cut for birds.
Rashi points out that even according to the opinion that there is no Biblical requirement to perform shehitah on birds, nevertheless a bird that simply dies or is bludgeoned to death will not be kosher. The only argument is whether the rules and regulations of shehitah (see the five basic rules above, daf 4 ) apply to the slaughter of birds as well as animals. In any case, it is clear that at least on a Rabbinic level, all agree that shehitah applies to fowl.