י״ב בטבת ה׳תשע״ט (December 20, 2018)

Hullin 23a-b: Between Lamb and Ram

On today’s daf, Rabbi Zeira raises the following question: If a man commits himself to bringing a burnt offering from a ram (an adult) or a lamb (a younger animal), but, in fact, brings a palges – an “in-between” animal – what is the halakha?

The Gemara points out that according to Rabbi Yoḥanan it is clear that he can offer the palges together with the libations that are appropriate for the larger animal. He believes that a palges is a beriah bifnei atzmah – that it has a unique status and situation, as it is neither a keves nor an ayil – and that the passage o la-ayil “or for a ram” (see 15:11) should be understood as including a palges. The Tosafot Yom Tov explains that the word o – “or” – refers to something aside from the ram and it is as though the Torah had written “Thus shall it be done for each bullock, or for each palges, or for each ram.”

The source for the word palges is found in Greek, where it refers to someone who is no longer a child, but has not yet gained the status of an adult. In our case it refers to an animal that is an “in-between” stage of development. On the one hand, it is more than a year old, so it is no longer a keves – a lamb. On the other hand it is not yet an ayil – a ram – a status that it does not obtain until it is in its second year. Rashi  seems to extend this status to the animal during its thirteenth month; the Rambam appears to give it this status only on the last day of the animal’s thirteenth month; according to other rishonim, during the entire second year of the animal’s life it is considered a palges.