By performing ritual slaughter on a kosher animal, its meat becomes permitted to eat. Such shehitah also serves another purpose, as a properly slaughtered animal does not become tameh – it does not attain the ritual defilement of a neveilah– an animal that died on its own or was killed by a predator (see Vayikra 11:39). This is true even if the shehitah does not accomplish its primary purpose. If an animal was found to be a terefah – an animal with a terminal condition that will die within a short amount of time – although shehitah does not permit it to be eaten, nevertheless the animal does not become a neveilah, rather it remains ritually pure, since it was slaughtered properly.
How would such shehitah affect the status of an unborn – or partially born – fetus that we have been discussing in thisperek (=chapter)?
According to the Mishnah on yesterday’s daf (=page), a fetus in its mother’s womb does not become a neveilah if its mother is slaughtered, even though its exposed limb would become a neveilah if it was cut off before its mother’s slaughter. In a case where the exposed limb was not cut off and shehitah was performed on the mother while the limb was hanging out, we find a disagreement between Rabbi Me’ir and the Hakhamim. Rabbi Me’ir rules that the shehitahcannot affect an exposed limb that was not inside the womb at the moment of slaughter, so it becomes a neveilah; theHakhamim argue that the shehitah keeps the entire fetus from becoming a neveilah, so it is rendered a slaughteredterefah, which does not ritually defile.
The Gemara on today’s daf quotes a baraita that elaborates on the discussion that took place between Rabbi Me’ir and the Hakhamim regarding this issue. Rabbi Me’ir’s argument is that if the mother’s shehitah affects the entire fetus, perhaps it should permit it to be eaten, as well. The Hakhamim reply that not all slaughter permits an animal to be eaten, as is evident from the case of a terefah that is slaughtered, which remains pure, even though its meat is not permitted to be eaten.